But Tactfully

DSC_0934From Alexander, the grammarian, [I learned] to refrain from faultfinding, and not in a reproachful way to chide those who uttered any barbarous or incorrect or strange-sounding expression; but tactfully to introduce the very expression which they ought to have used, in the course of an answer or assent or inquiry about the thing, not about the word; or by some other suitable suggestion.

— Marcus Aurelius

The timeline of my grammar life could be summed up in a few words: apathetic → indifferent → learned-through-teaching → pompous donkey → repellant sheriff → quieter → still learning manners.

There was a time in my life, alas, when I would not hesitate to correct your grammar, nay, when I would swoop down and pounce upon your words as an eagle dives for a fish. There was a time when I approved of scoldfests written by grammar purists.

There was a time, cough cough, when I publicly corrected my son in the middle of a toast at a wedding reception. Indeed, it’s true! But here’s the deal. He said, speaking to his brother-in-law (groom) and sister-in-law (bride), that “my mom should probably get a finder’s fee since two marriages happened because of her Grammar Class: First me and Jessie got married and now you two.” I could only stand up and say, “JESSIE AND I” … and the crowd roared with laughter. If it had been a art class or a science class I would never have said a peep!

I pray those times are behind me. I hope I’ve learned that people are more precious than words. There is a time to refrain from faultfinding.


8 thoughts on “But Tactfully

  1. Did you hear it? My BIG sigh of relief! Grammar wasn’t a big deal in nursing school;(. I want you to know I signed up for a MOOC grammar and writing class,,,,,can this old dog learn new tricks? I sure hope so…

  2. you’re darling. It’s true. p.s. I am constantly second-guessing my speech (i.e. did I say that right? correctly?) I blame it on living in two foreign countries for 9 years.

    That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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