Grammar 101, Tinged By Resentment

By:
zshetler@gmail.com

Good morning class! I hope that your weekend was enjoyable. Mine was certainly very eventful. Remember how we talked last week about the difference between internal and external conflicts? Well, I found my weekend to be full of both.

But okay. Deep breath. I feel good. I’m here, with 35 students in front of me. Let’s get going with today’s grammar lesson: we’re going to focus on common grammatical mistakes and traps.

Now, first off, let’s look at the difference between your and you’re.

Your signifies possession. For example, “This is your fault,” as in the fault belongs to you. Not me. Some other examples are as follows:

Your friends are coming to dinner with us again?”

Your lack of interest in any form of commitment is staggering.”

Or, “I don’t think your face is something that I want to see like ever again.”

Notice that in each example, the noun that directly follows your is not something that I possess or that is within my sphere of control to change. It’s on you. These are your issues. Your totally separate-from-me-now issues.

As for the other you’re, with the apostrophe and -re, it should be very easy to remember that it’s a contraction of the two words you and are, for example:

You’re a scumbag.” See, you could also say, “You are a scumbag.”

We can also flip it, go aspirational and more self-affirming with our you’re’s.

As in, “You’re not going to spend any more time fretting over this bullshit, because you’re a truly beautiful soul who is a great inspiration to all these malleable youth — our world of tomorrow.”

And, you know what, “You’re going to start going to run club where you’re going to meet somebody super hot and chill whose idea of a good time is not playing videogames with a bunch of bros till four a.m. on a weeknight, hotboxing the 400-square-foot apartment that you’re paying the entire rent for, all while he looks put out when you ask him to pay for pizza, saying, ‘I’m just trying to find a job that doesn’t compromise my values as a writer.'”

Unfortunately, I’m seeing a lot of these kind of homophone errors in your writing so far this semester. I’d like us to nip these mistakes in the bud before you find that your most valuable years are gone and your sweet young adulthood has turned out to be nothing more than a shamble of wasted days, a repository of bitter memories.

Okay? So let’s look at whether and weather.

Whether should be used to introduce alternatives. As in, “I’ve been trying for some time to decide whether the new TFA Biology teacher down the hall would make a better partner than you.” Note that there is no mention of sunshine or precipitation.

Another example could be, “Maybe it’s time to find out whether or not Tinder is a viable dating platform. I hear it is very easy to use.”

Or, “Some time during season three of House of Cards I realized that whether I’m totally alone or whether I find someone else, I’m still going to be a better person just so long as I’m not with you.”

As for weather without the first h, it should only be used to indicate the actual weather, as in the temperature, the wind, the clouds, etc. You know, just like, “Check out that foggy weather out there. I hope that you’ll get lost in all that fog and fall into a lake and drown while I’m cozy at home with my new lover — a caring, working class guy I haven’t met yet, but who I’ll no doubt meet at the public library when we both reach for the same copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”

Lastly, I want us to take a look at peek and peak. These are interchanged all too often and I’m hoping that a quick lesson on their differences will set us all straight.

Now peek with two e’s means that you are getting a quick look at something, as in, “I got a peek at your Gmail last week.” I think it is easiest to remember that this peek is related to a glance at something because the two e’s in the word are representative of the two eyes we each have in our head. Yes, two eyes that allow us to see the truth, even when someone tries to keep it hidden, buried, stashed away in a folder ostensibly labeled “Work Stuff,” despite the fact that work is a concept as foreign to that person as the concepts of loyalty, dignity, and self-respect.

Another example could be, “I got a peek at your Facebook messages and a peek at your texts and a peek at your direct message Tweets too.”

Of course, be careful not to confuse that peek with peak with an a, which means a summit or the topmost point of something…or evidently the private parts of some gym skank, like, “Sharon, from the climbing gym, who thinks it’s appropriate to send e-mails requesting that you ‘summit her peak with your nut tool,'” whatever the hell that means.

To which I counter that I might have wasted several important years on you, but it doesn’t even matter, because, “I’m still healthy and vibrant and I’ll be damned if I’ve already hit my peak and wasted my best days on you. I mean, I got miles to go before I sleep, amiright Rob Frost!?”

Well, we’ve covered a lot of grammatical ground today! I have to say that I feel particularly relieved to have worked our way through some of these issues. Anybody have any questions? Nope? Good.

I’ll be passing out worksheets to review these concepts.

If you get stuck or have any questions, just let me know. I’ll be using this time to update my relationship status and untag six years worth of Facebook photos.

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