And This, My Dear Child, is a Comma
Oh, the pain! As a self-diagnosed grammar geek, reading poorly edited work is as much fun as getting a root canal without nitrous oxide. To add to the misery, I usually find such blatant attempts at first degree murder on the English language in children’s books. Take for example my son’s Christmas present from his grandparents. On the outside it’s an eye-appealing, colorful cover depicting Spider-Man and his many enemies. On the inside, it’s the bane of my existence: bad grammar.
Maybe the reason our children cannot speak their own language well is the fact that from an early age they are quietly and sneakily brainwashed into grammar stupidity. Take for example the following excerpt from the recently mentioned book:
“Thanks Uncle Ben. I just want to be a scientist,” … The mistake? Do you see it, my fellow grammar geeks? Of course you do. There should be a comma after the words “thanks” as Peter Parker is directly addressing his uncle. Remember, commas can save lives, my friends. Take for instance the following phrase: “Let’s eat Grandpa!” Cannibalism! Now, Grandpa’s life could have been spared if someone would have simply inserted the tiny punctuation mark: “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” Instead of eating the man, you are inviting him to the table to partake in the meal, not be the meal.
Does this Spider-Man book stop at this mistake? No. Sadly, there are many more. The following are just two of them.
“Then one day Peter’s life changed, on a school trip to the Science Hall.” Again the misuse and abuse of the poor little comma. Come on, editors of this book. What did the comma ever do to you that you are putting it in places it doesn’t want to go?
“Spider-Man felt confident, because he had worked very hard at perfecting his abilities.” Where do I start? I want to cry … really, I do. But tears will not solve grammar issues. I just sit and silently judge these people on their grammar blindness.
I do whatever other sensible grammar geek mothers do: I point out these errors to my five-year-old and three-year-old boys who sit there and look at me as if I’ve sprouted a comma out of my nose. Maybe I have. Maybe I’ve gone over the deep end into the grammar abyss. But, hey, I like it down here. At least I don’t have to deal with comma splices.
So, you be the judge. Am I being too geeky? Or am I right in my grammar righteous anger?