I was never really taught grammar. It wasn’t in vogue in New Zealand in the 1970s, and frankly, I’m not sure it is in vogue here now either. When studying Chinese, our Chinese teacher was appalled that we didn’t really understand the names for all the different tenses etc. So learning Mandarin meant that I learnt more about English too. My grammar knowledge is, therefore, largely self-taught. But if there’s one thing I hate, it’s finding typos and errors in my work. I find them easy to identify in someone else’s work. Show me a blackboard menu and I can pick out all the spelling mistakes and incorrectly placed apostrophe’s. Gotcha! I was just kidding, I know it is apostrophes.
So I use Grammarly, cursing their preference for American spellings, to check my writing. Sometimes I ignore its suggestions, though, and sometimes it just drives me bonkers, as in the few examples below:
It won’t allow me to write “hospital” as a stand-alone word. Eg, “when I was in hospital.”
It doesn’t like “a sombre few weeks.”
It wanted me to replace “I have little time” with “a little time” which changes the meaning of the sentence.
Of course, it hates the fact that I don’t use plurals for Maori words – eg “the tui are singing in my garden.” Actually, it’s not too fond of Maori words in the first place.
Worse, it will include all these disagreements in my emailed weekly report, which is like a school report, and it makes me feel as if I need to defend myself!
I am thankful for it, though. I cut and paste a lot when I’m drafting a blog, trying to get it to flow. Unfortunately, by the time I’ve finished the post, I often cannot be bothered proof-reading. Then months or years later, when re-reading any of my posts, I get a nasty shock finding typos, confused tenses, and half-sentences, amongst other egregious grammatical errors. I am mortified when I find these. But I do thank you, my readers, for being too polite to point these out!
Fortunately, Grammarly isn’t so polite.