Monday, August 29, 2005

Grammar Gripe #1

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. It’s what’s kept me up to my artificially whitened teeth in cocaine and hookers mortgage payments and trendy shoes and brand-name peanut butter since soon after I got my precious English degree.

So, naturally, I have my (educated, I’d like to think) opinions about writing and writers and the write way to right.

And with educated opinions come cranky, self-important, globally irrelevant pet peeves. Suffice it to say, I have quite a few. Some are hard-and-fast rules people should have learned in the third grade. Some are personal preferences borne of a hatred for inelegant pomposity.

And I’m warning you in advance: My passion for good writing burns as white-hot as Rush Limbaugh’s urethra between marriages, so if you can’t stomach the incoherent rantings of a reasonably well-groomed grammar god, you may want to go here instead.

And because I often have nothing of real value to say here so I’ve decided I’ll periodically write about (yawn) grammar for those of you brave enough to soldier on with me, take a deep breath and prepare to be gramminated (I just made that word up!) with my first-ever inelegantly named Grammar Gripe!

The Problem: would like
It sounds nice and formal and educated, doesn’t it? NOT. Even in its proper subjunctive context, it sounds to my hyper-critical ears as though it's artificially pretentious and laden with rude subtext.
Example! We would like to invite you to our party … but we won’t because you’re not even cool enough to fish leftover Doritos out of our cat box.
Example! I would like to congratulate you on the birth of your baby … but I can’t because, frankly, even if it’s yours it’s too ugly to live and I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up.
Example! I would like to order the fish … but I can’t because I don't speak any known languages. And I've been dead for seven years.

The Solution: nothing
Just say, simply, Come to our party or Congratulations on the birth of your baby or I want to give you this lovely and extremely expensive gift, Jake, because you write with clarity and precision and such a refreshing lack of inelegant pomposity. Sometimes.

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