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March 15, 2013
Re. " Mailbag: Grammar gripe (March 12): I have been meaning for some time to commend June Casagrande for her column, "A Word, Please. " While the subjects of grammar and punctuation can be deathly boring to some (like reader Terry Johnston, whose letter published in today's Daily Pilot characterized Casagrande's most recent column on the Oxford comma as "ridiculous"), I am constantly surprised at how Casagrande manages to come up with topics that are actually interesting and truly helpful.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | May 18, 2012
Here's a little test that will tell you if you're suffering from a serious personality disorder I just made up. Imagine you're cruising along the street looking for a place to park when you see a sign that says, "No parking at anytime. " Do you 1.) look for another spot, 2.) park there anyway, or 3.) spend the next 10 years pondering the grammar of that sign? If you chose 1, you may be sane. If you chose 2, you may be an Angeleno. But if you chose 3, you just might be a grammar obsessive.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | June 15, 2012
On the morning of Feb. 11, Orange County residents may have heard a blood-curdling scream — the kind that leaves no doubt that a horrible atrocity has been committed. I'm writing today to confess: I'm the perp. My victim's name is Barbara. My crime was writing this sentence, "Even professionals have to look these things up" (Re. The truth about hyphens, Feb. 11) . "You do that thing that raises the hair on the back of my neck," Barbara wrote. "You split an infinitive!
NEWS
By June Casagrande | March 16, 2012
Some people love it when you correct their grammar. Those people are easy to identify. They're the folks who say, "Yes, please correct my grammar. I love that. " Pretty much everyone else alive — or who has ever lived — hates it. And because the latter group outweighs the former by something like 100 to 0, it's just a bad idea to point out people's language mistakes. Of course, there are exceptions. Unsolicited corrections can be fine, coming from teachers or parents, or anyone looking for an excuse to prove his mettle in a prison yard.
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | February 4, 2014
Making good grammar decisions usually requires very little grammar. If the sentence "Whom are you?" sounds wrong, it probably is. You don't need to know why. You need never have heard the term "predicate nominative" or even "object pronoun. " Call it grammar autopilot. But there are exceptions — specifics and subtleties of the language that require extensive grammar for a small payoff. The most striking example is "a while" and "awhile. " To know which one to use, you need to know what a preposition is, you need to know what the object of a preposition is, you need to know what an adverbial is, and you need to know what an adverb is. That last one is harder than you may realize.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | November 23, 2012
You know how grammar buffs can be a little, well, difficult to be around? Judgmental? Quick to correct? And you know how even when they're being quiet you can almost hear the unspoken criticisms seeping through their pores? Well, this grammar buff is about to take that dynamic to new heights, making the leap from simply abrasive to utterly insufferable. That's because I, an already-devout smartypants, recently outsmarted one of the most authoritative sources in language: I found a mistake — or at the very least some fuzzy thinking — in the Associated Press Stylebook.
NEWS
By June Casagrande | September 28, 2012
The life of a language columnist can be a lonely one. Picture a head of unwashed hair and a pair of mismatched graying socks protruding from behind a stack of reference books and you'll have a rough snapshot. No one wants to talk to you, lest you rap their knuckles for not using "whom" in casual conversation. And heaven knows no one wants to look at (or smell) you. But in the last few months I've learned a trick to get people to communicate with me. It's been right under my nose all the time.
NEWS
May 24, 2004
JUNE CASAGRANDE Today, Rancho Cucamonga. Tomorrow, the world! This has long been the motto of my expansionist agenda and finally my glorious plan is beginning to take shape. For those of you just tuning in, every week I examine some topic pertaining to grammar. (That's right, I said grammar. No, this is not a joke.) Often, that topic pertains to some embarrassing mistake I made. I'm always happier when it's inspired by someone else's mistake, but I'm careful not to get too smug because I usually get knocked down a peg soon afterward.
NEWS
October 11, 2004
JUNE CASAGRANDE When I was 18 years old and an idiot, I had a dream. That dream was to not be an idiot. And ironically, it backfired, bringing my first lesson in grammar humility. Around this time, I found myself in the break room of the grocery store where I worked correcting a co-worker's use of the word "dreamt." It was, I said, "dreamed." Many, many years later, I still regret this. For one thing, I'm not sure why I picked the fight. The co-worker was someone I had gone to school with, one of the "cool guys" half my friends wanted to date.
NEWS
By: JUNE CASAGRANDE | October 2, 2005
{LDQUO}Went missing," "gone missing" and their root form "go missing" are horrible, grammatically indefensible expressions that should be banned from the English language, and anyone who uses them should be tarred and feathered, so say two prominent language columnists and countless grammar sticklers. "'Went missing' must go," the Writers Art columnist James Kilpatrick wrote in 2003. "The idiom has worn out its novelty." Self-appointed Word Guy and syndicated columnist Rob Kyff chose a differently conjugated victim, "go missing," but the sentiment was the same.
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NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | April 16, 2014
We've all done it: You look at something you wrote, then stop and think: "It just doesn't look right. " When we write, the enormous volumes of printed text we see over our lifetimes become a mental reference for how words should be spelled and punctuated. It's remarkable how often this subconscious compass steers us in the right direction. Consciously, we may be pretty sure we're supposed to double up the Ts in the middle of the word "commitment. " But the eye knows that "committment" doesn't look right.
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NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | March 12, 2014
Many years ago, back when I used to answer my landline telephone, I found myself in a conundrum. I realized that, when a caller asked, "May I speak to June, please?" I would answer, "This is she. " But I couldn't for the life of me explain why. Why did I use the subject form, "she," for a pronoun in a spot that seemed to call for the object form, "her"? I had no idea. I tried "This is her" on for size. It sounded funny. Worse than funny. Wrong. I went back to saying, "This is she," but I didn't feel good about it. I felt like I was using fancy, formal grammar I didn't even understand.
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | March 4, 2014
How time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was writing a column debunking the myth that it's wrong to start a sentence with a conjunction. And it seems like just the day before yesterday that I wrote the same thing. And the day before that, the same thing, going back about 12 years to when I started writing this column, bright-eyed and hopeful that I could make a difference by debunking grammar myths. Foolish child. Grammar superstitions are a heck of a lot more powerful than I'll ever be, as evidenced by an email I got recently from a reader named Paul in Venice, Calif.
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | February 26, 2014
Regular readers of this column know that I spend a lot of time talking about grammar wrongs that aren't - the countless mythical language no-nos that get passed down from generation to generation of people who never bother to look them up. Broken-record metaphors apply. I replay ad nauseam the same scratchy refrain: "People think it's an error to [insert grammar myth here], but it's not. " So, for a change of pace, I thought I'd talk about a popular usage that some people call wrong and (here's the twist)
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | February 18, 2014
A group of university researchers working with some Facebook folks have recently determined that I'm not a dinosaur. Not yet, at least. Copy editors like me, who for years have been watching our hard-earned grammar skills get discounted with every poorly constructed Facebook post and semiliterate celebrity tweet, could still be useful one, two, possibly three years from now. All those awful grammar errors you see online every day may not be rendering...
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | February 12, 2014
If you have two children, and Sarah was born before Bobby, then Sarah is the older of the two. But is she also the oldest? According to a number of 1950s high school teachers whose former students now read my column, there's a simple, clear, indisputable answer to this question: No. "There's one rule I learned in high school in the '50s that nobody seems to follow, and I was wondering if what I learned no longer applies," wrote a reader in...
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | February 4, 2014
Making good grammar decisions usually requires very little grammar. If the sentence "Whom are you?" sounds wrong, it probably is. You don't need to know why. You need never have heard the term "predicate nominative" or even "object pronoun. " Call it grammar autopilot. But there are exceptions — specifics and subtleties of the language that require extensive grammar for a small payoff. The most striking example is "a while" and "awhile. " To know which one to use, you need to know what a preposition is, you need to know what the object of a preposition is, you need to know what an adverbial is, and you need to know what an adverb is. That last one is harder than you may realize.
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | November 25, 2013
Harold in Clifton Park, N.Y., wrote recently to ask me about the grammar of the sentences "I couldn't care less" and "I could care less. " Until then, I thought there were just two kinds of people in the English-speaking world: people who say "I could care less" and people who want to slap them and scream, "It's 'couldn't'!'" I've had my frustrations with both camps. So it was refreshing to learn that there is a third contingent - people who actually want to understand the grammar (population: one Harold)
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | August 26, 2013
A lot of adults gave up on grammar long ago. They didn't learn as much as they would have liked in school. Now there's too much too learn. Amid a sea of gibberish about sentence-ending prepositions, dangling participles and split infinitives, it's impossible to even know where to begin, right? Not exactly. Lifelong grammar learning is about priorities - getting the most out of the time you invest. And in my experience, no grammar lesson gives you a better bang for your buck than a crash course in past participles.
NEWS
By June Casagrande and By June Casagrande | August 16, 2013
If I were to write that coffee smells good, I wouldn't hear a word about it. If I wrote that I am happy, Emily seems nice, pizza sounds delicious, liver tastes bad or all men are created equal, none of those statements would incite the grammar cops. But there's one sentence that, although identical in structure to all these, is guaranteed to get me rapped on the knuckles. It's "I feel bad. " If I make that statement or any variation on it, someone is certain to scold me for my "error," as one Chuck in Albany did recently.
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