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At school I was never ever good at English. I was an awesome student, with high high grades, but when it came to English class, I was always terrible.
But just because I was poor in English, doesn't mean that I don't have good ideas... it just means that I was just not exposed to the proper grammar or proper spelling or ways of writing beautiful essays. Actually, it's probably due to a combination of things:
1. English was my second language, but I never had proper training in English grammar at school. So all the English I learned was by interacting and listening to my friends and teachers - at home I spoke Polish.
2. I hated reading stories when I was young (instead I loved to do puzzles, math, science), and so I didn't learn the proper way of writing "naturally" from books.
3. My strong "math" genes led me toward math and away from the humanities. Also my parents really focused their time on teaching me the sciences and really didn't emphasize the humanities.
In some previous posts on this site (for example: Teacher Pay Scale Across Canada) I received many comments. Many of them were very controversial. Lots of teachers were complaining how little pay they get, while non-teachers were complaining about teachers, and how they always complain. These typical comments are repeated everywhere. I complained about teachers before I became one, and now that I'm a teacher, I start hearing myself complain as teachers typically do.
Anyway, the debate is constant and probably will never end, but some comments were not aimed at the content, but at the "English" language of teachers. For me, this is a very low class comment: it doesn't add to the discussion - instead it hits below the belt. It's similar to a comment: "I don't like your shirt." If you can understand the content, then why bother with the "grammar" lesson.
A blog is a very very informal article - and comments are not supposed to be edited as if they were a book. It's a discussion, very much like a real life conversation. And just like in a conversation, the flow of words comes naturally, and not all grammatical structures / laws are followed. Therefore "bad grammar" comments are useless and a pet peeve of mine.
I am writing this entry because of a recent comment by one of these "grammar Nazis". Here is what my sentence was: (If you want to play along, figure out what's wrong with it.)
"This last year, I was making $30,000 less in Quebec than if I was working as a teacher in Alberta."
Here is what a reader, Ray von Schmalz, wrote:
"...if I WAS working as a teacher in Alberta"? Hmmm, try "if I WERE working" and you may be worth your extra $30,000.
And here is what I answered:
I don't know why people are so into correcting other people about grammar. I never told anyone that I am an English "grammar" teacher. I am a math teacher, and I often make fun of myself in terms of my lack of knowledge in English (spelling and grammar). My students often have to tell me how to spell something, but I pride myself that I don't "pretend" I know everything. This weakness of mine shows them that I am human, and I can only know a certain amount of things - and perfect English is not one of them. But I don't think that this takes from my ability to be an awesome teacher... You really think that all teachers in Alberta know about the "subjunctive form" of "to be"?
By the way, I looked it up ( http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-subjunctive.htm), and "if I was...." as opposed to "if I were..." is the correct informal language. Only formal English grammar requires "if I were...". Since this blog is very informal, please excuse me from this oversight!
What do you think? Is proper grammar really all that important, especially when we're talking about a blog or comment on a blog? Or should the focus be on the content and not the appearance of intelligence in the form of proper English?