Grammar Lecture Makes the Rules Clear

Carol Santos

Students and faculty gathered at Kreider Hall at noon on Feb. 25 to listen to a presentation by author and columnist June Casagrande entitled “Grammar in Real Life.”

Casagrande writes the weekly “A Word, Please” grammar column for the Glendale News-Press. She has also written “Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies,” “Mortal Syntax” and the upcoming “It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences.”

She has worked as a feature writer, community news reporter and city editor for the Times Community News, a division of The Los Angeles Times.

About 85 people attended the presentation in which Casagrande explained how some people fear their incorrect use of grammar.

“Grammar isn’t a list of crimes written by academics,” she said. “Grammar is a description of how words are customarily used in culture. Grammar is mechanics and dynamics used effectively with elegance.”

Some people argued that grammar should not be based on how our culture uses and misuses it, but Casagrande countered, “If we didn’t base our grammar on how our culture misuses it, we would be saying that as, ‘Thou art eroding our mother tongue.’ This language evolves from erosion and misuse.”

For those who would like to improve their grammar, she recommended “Garner’s Modern American Usage,” “The Associated Press Stylebook,” and “The Chicago Manual of Style.”

Casagrande presented a mini quiz testing the audience on various common grammatical errors, such as the difference between using “who” and “whom,” “should of” and “should have,” and “I” and “me.”

Most of audience participants picked the correct answers.

Casagrande advised not to worry about things such as splitting infinitives, using “whom,” and ending sentences with a proposition.

Student Tyler Durivan, who attended the lecture for extra credit in his English 101 class, said, “I came to learn more about grammar, and I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know before.”

While some came to fulfill extra credit in their English classes, others came for entertaining and informative speech. Student Julie Greenburg said, “I attended the presentation because it seemed interesting. The overall outcome was very effective.”