A Grammar Teacher’s Wish List

I read this post and boy could I relate. Thanks to AIC Communication Services for sharing an English teacher’s–and many a proofreader’s–woes.

A picture of a dodo bird with the words "There's no room for grammar here."
Photo courtesy of AIC Communication Services

The other night, I graded my last paper of the semester and cracked open the bottle of wine that had been calling out to me all week. As I sipped my single glass of victory, I reflected on the state of my students’ writing.

I couldn’t help but long for them to enter my classes with a better foundation in grammar and syntax, so I came up with a wish list I would like elementary and secondary school teachers to try and fulfill.

  • Properly teach comma use.

    I want to put a thumbtack, point up, on the chair of every teacher who takes the lazy way out and proclaims, “Put a comma in whenever you pause or take a breath.” They set their students up for a lifetime of comma confusion.

  • Teach other punctuation.

    I know K-12 teachers are doing this, but I’d appreciate it if they explained that exclamation points shouldn’t end every sentence and question marks should only show up at the end of direct questions. (Oh, and please explain that colons and semicolons are not interchangeable with each other or commas.)

  • Ditch the absolute prohibition of beginning sentences with “because” and replace it with “being that.”

    Yes, I understand students often end up with sentence fragments if they start sentences with “because.” However, this should not become a lifelong ban. Why not prohibit “being that” instead? Honestly, I can’t think of any good reason for it.

  • Help end creative capitalization.

    I understand that, in an age of texting and microblogging (Tweeting for the uninitiated), this could be tough. Trying to convince adult learners that the pronoun “I” should always be capitalized is frustrating. Modern texting apps may automatically capitalize it, but students don’t notice. The concept of proper nouns versus common nouns seems to escape them, too.

  • Show students how parts of speech are building blocks to proper sentences.

    Like parts of an engine or rooms in a building, each part of speech has a role to play to build solid, effective sentences.

The good news, at least for me and my future students, is that the Common Core Standards being implemented in states across America cover these things.

It gives me hope that good grammar, unlike cursive writing, will not follow the path of the dodo.



8 thoughts on “A Grammar Teacher’s Wish List

  1. How about a little semi-colon instruction? I teach my students: a semi-colon is NOT a super comma, a comma on steroids; rather, a semi-colon is a period on steroids. If you can’t use a period (.), then don’t use a semi-colon.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Sara ,
        I had to look up ‘egregious’ before I dared answer .
        I have a favourite café in Spain where I go on a daily basis. Maika writes the daily specials on a chalkboard, so I wait till she goes to get my order, and I rub the apostrophes out with my sleeve when she’s not looking.
        And they’re back in position the very next day! Unbelievable!
        Fish and chip’s
        Pizza’s margherita’s (two!)
        Wine’s Rioja

        she’ll put an apostrophe ‘s’ whenever and wherever; no pattern , no system that I’ve been able to find anyway…
        I’m just popping out now to see what’s new today.
        Regards . Marie.


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