Ms. Grammar Person would not abandon you in your hour of need—not when you face potential pitfalls at every turn: an avalanche of apostrophes, a mountain of misplaced modifiers, and a desert of dangling participles. The horror! In truth, Mrs. G. P. gets it, but fervently hopes that “get” is a word you choose to forget. Excellent writing (the only kind that merits discussion) has no place for such a silly word, a word tossed about hither and yon, a word which is the first and last resort of a lazy lay-about. When Mrs. G.P. reads that it’s time to “get going” or for people to “get to know each other,” she feels quite faint. Once she has recovered (with the help of a strong pot of tea and some lovely biscuits), she firmly replaces the offending word with a proper verb.
While our favorite grammarian is deciding which topic to embark upon next (there are so many, after all), she hears a knock at the door. Delighted by the thought of an unexpected guest, Mrs. G.P. perks up and answers the door. A gentleman caller, looking very dapper in a morning suit and top hat, greets Mrs. G.P. with a shy smile.
“Please pardon the intrusion, dear lady, but having read your blog posts, I feel that you are a kindred spirit, and I wish to make your acquaintance.”
Although accustomed to the admiration of her devotees, Mrs. G.P. is nonetheless humbled and flattered by the attention.
“Do tell,” she replies, giving him an arch look before inviting him into her office. “Clearly, only an Englishman, such as yourself, could appreciate the beauty of our shared language.”
With a flourish, the gentleman caller tips his hat to Mrs. Grammar Person before removing it. “I hope you don’t think it impolite that I’ve come to take a peek at you, but your writing has piqued my interest. In fact, I am at the peak of my curiosity.”
Mrs. G.P. claps her hands with amusement. “Bravo! Well done! How clever of you. That someone so discreet can comprehend such discrete possibilities; it’s wonderful.”
Beaming at her, the guest nods in agreement. “And how fascinating that both words derive from the same Latin word, discretus, which means separated. Don’t you agree?”
Of course Mrs. Grammar Person agrees–how could she not, when she carefully analyzes the origin of each word she encounters? For example, continuously means continuing uninterrupted while continually means continuing over a long period of time with interruption. So interesting!
“May I beg your indulgence?” asks the esteemed gentleman, lightly kissing the hand of the startled Mrs. G.P. “Although I fear I might’ve gone too far already…”
Our favorite grammarian quickly recovers her composure and makes a confession to her befuddled guest. “One prays to hear high praise, yet it preys upon one’s mind to desire it too much.”
The gentleman chuckles. “At the risk of exaggerating to the point of hyperbole, I must say, Mrs. Grammar Person, you are the jewel in the crown. I feel I have overstayed my welcome and will take my leave now. I hope to visit you again soon. I would consider it the highest honor.” He tips his hat and turns to go.
Mrs. G.P. sees him to the door. “But I never asked you your name, sir, how terribly rude of me.”
The gentleman replies cheerfully, “My name is Mr. Syntax, and it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
With a knowing smile, Mrs. GP nods. “I sense that we will become fast friends indeed!”
Spilling the Tea
by Lucy Leaf, Advice Columnist
I love to share what’s been brewing in the back of my head. And I love giving advice. It’s as if once the tea is brewed and the cookies are on the table, the sage wisdom just pours forth. Should you have a question about books, writing, dogs, cats, tea, coffee, or cookies, drop me line. Those I can solve will be posted on my Words and Fun page.