Return Of The Grammar Fool

5 Jan

January 5, 2018

Longtime readers of this blog may recall that when this blog began, I was an English teacher. Since then I moved on, first to the Company I Am not allowed to name and now to a position as a freelance investigator. What do these jobs have in common? They were all silly enough to pay me.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The phrase “longtime readers of this blog” may now be an anachronism. The longest-time reader, Mr. Al Bickley, has been a proud subscriber since day one, when this blog first appeared on MySpace. However, he has been in a medically induced coma since 2012 and while technically still a subscriber, he is definitely no longer a reader. The second-longest tenured reader is my Aunt Edwina, whose constant requests to be unsubscribed from my blog have been cheerfully ignored for years, since I know them to be nothing more than playful jests. Though that does not explain why she doesn’t invite me for Thanksgiving anymore.)

But sometimes, the old English-teaching days still haunt me. If you have the stomach for it, go back and check out the many blogs where I complain about bad grammar. (Here’s one making fun of Michael Bloomberg.)  HA HA HA, boy was that annoying. What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I was thinking. Read this, which is an actual status I posted on Facebook today.

Let someone else deal with OBJ.

Get it? It works on two levels. It’s funny because A- it’s a bad snowstorm and B- the Giants stink. I’ll take my West Coast Wildcat offense somewhere else, thank you very much.

But here’s where the grammar stuff kicks in. It’s that word “today.” That pesky “today.” There were three ways to write that post.
1- The snow is so bad that I’m skipping my interview today for Giants head coach.
2- The snow is so bad that I’m skipping my interview for Giants head coach today.
3- The snow is so bad today that I’m skipping my interview for Giants head coach.

Speaking now as a former paid English expert, the word “today,” in this context, acts as some sort of adjective modifier thingy, emphasizing that the interview was today (option 1), rather than emphasizing that the position was to be the Giants head coach today (option 2), which would be inaccurate. (But as I read this back, I think option 3, emphasizing that the snow was so bad today, was the way to go. Oh well.) 

See? It makes sense. I realize that most of you don’t care (so why are you still reading? This is the internet, go find some wrestling rumors or tweet or something) but hey, I actually put thought into that stupid status update.

The moral of the story? It is a snowy day, I’m stuck indoors, and this is what happens.


6 Responses to “Return Of The Grammar Fool”

  1. T E Stazyk January 5, 2018 at 1:53 am #

    Happy New Year.

    You may have opened a can of worms! I think it totally depends on the reality of the situation being described and you are right, we can’t be 100% sure.

    I actually think that what they said is the most correct because most likely, “today” is an adjective intended to modify the noun “interview.” We can guess that the interview was today and that the snow could have occurred today or earlier but still prevented travel.

    In example 2, we still can’t be sure when the snow fell but the placement of “today” raises the question of whether interviews for Giants coach are a daily or regular event and the person is only skipping the one today. I.e. I’m skipping the one today but might go tomorrow if the snow eases up.

    Example 3, like example 2, makes sense, but with no further context it could be that today’s snow made the writer think about snow in general and made them decide that they might not want to be the coach of the Giants and have to go out when it snows or stand in the cold and snow (while they lose), so they decide not to do the interview which may take place at some as yet indeterminable time.

    Lastly, I think that woman on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was correct. Everyone knows that when Washington crossed the Delaware he promptly mooned the English and said “Yo momma.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • bmj2k January 5, 2018 at 2:01 am #

      Happy New Year!

      All good points. And you are right, it is a can of worms. Of course, the best use of a can of worms is as bait on a fishing trip, what it was definitely too cold to go on today. Or too cold today to go on. But I’m sticking with the woman on Millionaire. She knows where it’s at.


      • T E Stazyk January 5, 2018 at 3:06 pm #

        Today might be a good day for ice fishing. But then again it might be good day for ice fishing today.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. T E Stazyk January 12, 2018 at 6:32 pm #

    You have sensitized me to this issue and I now see it everywhere! Here’s a perfect example:

    “I never did anything according to what anyone else wanted. That’s why I think I am happy.”

    Sandra Bullock,

    In the second sentence shouldn’t it be, “I think that’s why I’m happy?” It’s scary to deconstruct the meaning of the sentence as written–she thinks she’s happy because she doesn’t do what other people want–doesn’t that mean people want her to think she is unhappy?


    • bmj2k January 12, 2018 at 10:58 pm #

      Yes, I agree with you 100%. As written, I read it that she “thinks” she is happy. That’s not the same as being happy. “That’s why I’m happy” would be the way to go, right? So either there is some uncertainty about if she is happy or she is deluding herself that she is happy. Someone get her to therapy!


    • bmj2k January 12, 2018 at 10:59 pm #

      She was (still is?) married to Jesse James, the bike builder, so I can see why she may have to delude herself.


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