I like to think that I’ve got a good handle on my grammar. However, I now have a tendency to be a little creative with it in my web copy and blogs. The joys of artistic licence. Yet, when confronted with incorrect grammar and asked my opinion, I find it incredibly difficult not to be completely honest.
Now you should know that it’s taken a while for me to develop my knowledge. I studied English until GCSE, but then didn’t really write in prose until my mid-twenties. It had been nearly a decade, and my skill was limited. Thankfully I had a colleague who was incredibly clued up and wasn’t shy with her corrections. I learnt loads. And, on the whole I follow the rules 🙂
Back to now.
We’d recently had a number of burglaries on our road, and in response, a WhatsApp group for residents was created. It’s been brilliant for getting to know my neighbours. We’re really lucky as they all seem to be lovely. Together we decided we wanted to do more to support each other and as part of this we agreed to create some stickers for our windows. Similar to Neighbourhood Watch, but just for our street.
One of my neighbours created a sticker and asked for feedback. The sticker said, “High Road Are Watching”.
This is where I got a little stuck. The grammar was clearly incorrect. It should be either “High Road is watching” or “High Road residents are watching”.
I had a choice. I could either share the correction or I could leave it alone. Maybe someone else would say something. Why wouldn’t I share my thoughts? Well, I’m only just getting to know my neighbours and I didn’t want them to think I was a weirdo that focuses on this type of detail and didn’t appreciate other people’s effort.
I did the only sensible thing. I asked for some opinions from my friends. The resounding guidance was that I should speak up. To ignore that negative inner critic. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was actually being helpful in responding.
I sent my thanks for creating the sticker, saying that it looked great. Then I suggested my amendments. And waited for my neighbours to respond.
Silence. No response. Nothing.
That’s when my inner critic showed up. “What have I done? They must hate me. Or think I’m totally arrogant. OMG.”
Then my inner rebel decided to share its two pennies. “Well if they think that was bad, maybe I should have told them they had the wrong WhatsApp logo and that capital letters aren’t used for all words in a sentence.”
I chose to hold fire on taking any action. I reread my text several times to check (again and again) that what I had written was reasonable. Eventually, I gave up and went to bed.
A couple of days later, an updated sticker image was shared. It read “High Road Resident’s Are Watching”. Erm, what’s with the random apostrophe? I didn’t say anything. I stuck my neck out a little last time and got nothing. And then…
One by one, my neighbours started correcting the sticker. Getting into a bit of a disagreement about the use of the apostrophe. Now there were several neighbours involved. Correcting each other. All I could think about was the grammar vigilante of Bristol.
I was in absolute hysterics. Do I apologise for my part in this? Nope, I stayed out of it, except to lighten the mood every so often with an emoji.
We eventually agreed on the text and a few days later I received our sticker.
On reflection, it’s amazing how critical I was of myself when I shared my initial feedback. Yet, how amused I was when others were sharing theirs. They were more direct and I just found it funny. I’m learning to hear my inner critic, but not let them rule me.