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Celebrating our Comma Interests

Do you cringe any time you see your and you’re misused in an email or text? When people use there where they should’ve written they’re or their, does it make you want to scream? If either of those errors, dangling participles or comma splices brings out in you the desire to grab a red pencil and go to work then there is a holiday for you. “What is this wondrous day,” you ask? It is National Grammar Day; started in 2008 by Brockenbrough, a frustrated high school teacher and founder of the Grammar (SPOGG).

The date chosen for this new holiday has an alternate meaning. SPOGG says March 4 is the perfect date to celebrate grammar because, “It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help other do the same.”

This doesn’t mean you should walk up to every person you hear split an infinitive or end a sentence with a preposition and read them the rules of grammar act. The hostess for National Grammar Day, Mignon Fogarty, tries to discourage this behavior. Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, author of “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” and host of the Grammar Girl podcast says, “It should be a light-hearted day of exploring and learning.” She encourages grammar enthusiasts to go out and snap pictures of signs with humorous grammatical mistakes and share them with others. Fogarty receives emails from listeners about typos that, while grammatically correct, were not caught by spell-checkers resulting in amusing new sentences.

Some celebrators of National Grammar Day combine traditional holiday festivities with their appreciation of proper grammar by baking punctuation shaped cookies. A Costco writing team made National Grammar Day sandwiches. One not-so-traditional method of celebrating was when a man tattooed SPOGG on his arm. There are many ways in which you can join in on the ‘party-ciple’ (pun shared by twitter user @mfortuin11). The Grammar Girl section of QuickandDirtyTips.com offers many grammar-themed goodies. Send an e-card to friends who share your love of proper writing or that could use a refresher course. You can display your love of this new holiday with t-shirts, desktop wallpaper, or punctu-icons (punctuation-themed icon set). Educators, some who have already made National Grammar Day a part of their lesson plans, will appreciate the free teaching materials. Quick and Dirty Tips also hosts writing contests with categories like short fiction, haiku, and parts-of-speech poetry.

You could host your own party and serve grammartinis, created by Martha Brockenbrough, while everyone joins together to sing the official song of National Grammar Day:  March Forth. Both the full version and instrumental only are available at iTunes.

No matter how you decide to observe this new festival of grammar, like any solemn day, take a moment to reflect on those that instilled in you this gratefulness of language. Without them, you wouldn’t know your parentheses were left open!

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