Friday, October 12, 2012

Attack of the Grammar Nazis

My baby sister Katherine is ten years younger than me. When she was in preschool, I was a high school student in Honors English. One day, when Katherine was about four years old, I was drying her hair. She would not stand still. She kept squirming and trying to run away, and I was worried she might get whacked in the head by the hair dryer.

Finally, I snapped and told Katherine, "You need to stand still or I might accidentally hurt you bad."

"Badly," Katherine said.

"What?" I asked.

"Badly.  You might hurt me badly."

I knew immediately that my father was too blame for this. My four-year-old sister still thought that "cats = girls, dogs = boys," but somehow, Dad had managed to teach her how to correctly use "bad" as an adjective and "badly" as an adverb. (For the record, Katherine also knew how to correctly use the words "well" and "good" pretty much within fifteen minutes of leaving our mother's womb.)

It should come as no suprise that my family* sometimes draws my attention to grammatical errors in my blog entries. (*In this instance, the word "family" means "my father," but I promised to keep his identity a secret.)

After I published this post, my dad sent the following email:
I especially liked your blog today. One grammatical suggestion/observation (and I think I am correct on this). When putting an entire sentence (or a few sentences) inside parentheses, the period goes before the close parenthesis, not after.
I googled "periods inside or outside parenthesis," and according to the internet, my dad is right on this rule of grammar. Although everything on the internet is correct, I consulted The Elements of Style just to be sure.
According to Strunk and White: (When a wholly detached expression or sentence is parenthesized, the final stop comes before the last mark of parenthesis.)
Well I'll be damned. You learn something new every day. 
This concludes the Grammar Edition of the Cranky Pumpkin. We shall return to our regularly scheduled programming on Monday.
p.s. I own this version of The Elements of Style, which is illustrated by Maira Kalman, one of my favorite artists.
p.p.s. How cool is it that the author of Charlotte's Web also wrote the great grammar treatise for the English language? E.B. White, you're my hero.