“[D]iagramming sentences and identifying the parts of speech never made it into my repertoire. And so grammarians intimidate me. Once someone starts talking about verb moods, dangling whosits, and misplaced whatsits, I squirm. When I try to struggle through their prose explanations, my brain hurts.
“I’ve learned enough to be able to explain basic things to my students about common writing mistakes, but I can’t get technical. . . . When I tell students that adverbs are not their friends, I explain I mean words with ‘-ly’ on their tail. . . .
“I’m not convinced that studying grammatical labels would help my prose, though it might make me a more intimidating teacher.”
—Rachel Toor, creative writing prof, Eastern Washington University, “My Little Bag of Writing Tricks,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 2013.• Editorial Comment: Beware Conan the Grammarian.
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