When you're a writer or an editor, you sort of involuntarily join the grammar police force. Everywhere you go, you have the ability spot grammatical errors whether you want to or not. It's a blessing and a curse.
It is a blessing to be able to correct mistakes for others and to protect the public from gross misspellings and cringe-worthy grammar no-nos. However, it is, in a way, a curse to have to see these errors glaring at you wherever you go. The most painful one is probably the quotation-marks-used-for-emphasis mishap. If you've seen this sign in a restaurant bathroom and wanted to leave the establishment immediately, congratulations! You're one of us!
EMPLOYEES MUST "WASH HANDS" BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK
One such misuse of the English language unexpectedly found me in a residential restroom but, thankfully, it was without the germ-ridden implications. Actually, it was a motivational wall decal that was purchased from an actual store. Yes, fellow officers, these are being sold for money:
While the intentions of this decal are good, the misuse of the word "everyday" saps the decal of its inspirational meaning. The word "everyday" is an adjective meaning common or ordinary as in, "I wouldn't wear my everyday shoes to a wedding." Since you can't wrap up an adjective and give it away at Christmastime, no, everyday is NOT a gift. Every day, however, is certainly a gift! That's why it's called the present, right? Ugh. The duties of the cliché police will be discussed in another post.
In closing, I would like to say that I applaud you, fellow officers, for your attention to detail and confidence in bringing these errors to light. It's a shame that we don't get to wear official badges. Throughout my life, I have been appreciative of the grammar police pointing out my errors and teaching me a lesson or two. I'll never forget the time I wrote a poem with the phrase "leftover emotions" in it and a friendly critic taught me that the word "leftover" means yesterday's dinner.
However, not everyone in this world will be so grateful for our services. As the great Jim Gaffigan once tweeted, "Whenever you correct someone's grammar just remember that nobody likes you."
It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!
Grammar Girl is one of my favorite online resources for grammar rules. Read her take on "everyday" vs. "every day" here.
Rachel Boury Baxter
Writer: web content by day, fiction by night.