I can drive myself crazy when I'm out in public. Really, it takes very little effort. If I'm home watching television for a half hour, it's a safe bet that sometime in those thirty minutes I will hear someone misuse lay and lie. When that happens I correct my television out loud. Actually, I can't help it, it just comes out. In public, though, it takes effort to be polite and not spout the same grammatical corrections that bubble out of me at home like a little post-dinner burp. I often wonder if my blood pressure spikes for a few seconds, or if my ears get red from the effort I'm exerting to keep it in.

Grammar NaziDoes this happen to you? Chances are, if you blog you have pet peeves when it comes to grammar and punctuation. Where, for instance, do you fall on the great Oxford Comma debate? If you read a list, tally, or tabulation does that last comma make your teeth itch, or will it produce a gratified smile? Because, I guarantee that you'll have one of those two reactions.

Perhaps you're reading your Twitter feed and see it's filled its updates with multiple examples of text with improper apostrophe usage. It's as maddening as unnecessary shifts in tense, isn't it?

Reading mistakes like that won't make you laugh until you cried, but can make you laugh until you cry.

As a blogger, I have two go-to sources for all questions regarding style, grammar, and punctuation.

  • Strunk and White's The Elements of Style

  • The Associated Press Stylebook

Somewhere I heard a scream. Many of you use The Chicago Manual of Style. There is a very good reason that I am an Associated Press guy, and not a Chicago Manual guy, and it is related to the specific type of writing that I perform on the job.

My approach to professional blogging is closer to news gathering and reporting. Very often, I write about topics which are in the news, such as the right to be forgotten, or net neutrality. I assume a position as a reporter, presenting what I hope to be a fair and balanced examination of the issues. AP focuses on guiding the reporter through the rules and resources needed to make that deadline. The rest of my blogging is devoted to more traditional public relations copy. In both cases, source citations (for example) are handled quite differently from the approach advocated in The Chicago Manual of Style. That guide is for all types of writers, from essayists to romance authors. It is also geared to editors and publishers in all fields of composition. You want something like this to help you prepare any and all kinds of manuscripts. For that reason alone, the breadth of coverage is both extensive and somewhat general.

Rules of English don't change, however. Well, they may, but not easily. Whichever style guide that you follow, those annoying grammar and punctuation gaffes which fill your day may make you grind your teeth and turn you into a grammar Nazi if you aren't careful. This even happens to those misguided people who actually label themselves as Nazis, as I read once on Slate.com.

Photo credit: Brett Jordan / Foter / CC BY

Gary Locke
By Gary Locke

A semi-professional hyphenate and the Content Editor for CommonPlaces. He has enjoyed a long career in theater and multimedia, and still hopes to one day drive the Batmobile.

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