When Shakespeare wrote his famous plays and sonnets, spelling and grammar was not standardized and yet Shakespeare became one of the greatest writers ever. That always makes me feel better. No one ever became a great writer because of their great spelling or grammar.
I am grammatically challenged, and my spelling is atrocious; although, interestingly, I’m a great reader, but that is a different story. I have tried with the grammar and spelling. I have read books on grammar, memorizing those grammar rules. And most fondly, I did the sentence diagramming exercises, several times, in a book called Rex Barks; it was actually fun. Still, despite that, grammar and spelling is something I just don’t completely get.
Not only have I written blogs off and on for years, I have also written numerous books. (And yes, there have been complaints, although my novel “The Song of the Coyote” has been very well received.) None of this has helped to improve my grammar or spelling. The grammar and spelling of my writing are better because of my use of grammar checkers, but my ability to see the problems is no better. And as we all know, the grammar checkers are not perfect, so I still need to understand grammar to use them.
I do my best. I own five grammar checkers, which despite the bad reputations they tend to have, do help. The grammar checkers that I use are MS Word, WhiteSmoke, and Ginger (which is free). I have a fourth grammar checker called Editor, but it is so hard to use that I don’t bother with it. And I just bought a new grammar checker called Writer’s Workbench. Why do I use four checkers? Because I have learned that no two, or even four, grammar checkers are the same. They each have specialties; MS Word hates the passive voice, WhiteSmoke does not like repeated words, Ginger is surprisingly good at finding word usage problems, and I’m still learning about Writer’s Workbench.
I bring this up for a reason. The reason is to offer an apology for the grammatical errors I may be making in this article, and articles in the past and future. I know some readers are good at picking out those errors, and those errors can be grating. I usually do not see grammatical errors that others make while I read, but when I do, it is bothersome. So I’m giving an apology to you grammar professors out there.
I can’t promise that I will not to make any grammar, spelling or usage errors. I believe it is more important to write than it is to write perfectly, but I will promise to try to keep the errors to a minimum.
Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter. -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)