The Journal Gazette
 
 
Saturday, April 04, 2020 1:00 am

Here's hoping self-discipline becomes contagious

Curtis Honeycutt

Do you want to correct people's grammar or do you want to have friends?

You can either be a “grammar Nazi,” the “grammar police,” the “grammar assistant to the regional manager” or you can have friends. It's as simple as that. You can't have your judgment cake and eat it, too.

Am I suggesting we let people go on willy-nilly, using the wrong “there/their/they're” or “your/you're”? Not necessarily. I'm suggesting we don't act like grammar bullies.

If we've learned anything over the past few weeks, it's that the collective human spirit is a powerful — and some would say unstoppable — force. When we are faced with hard things, we stand together (albeit at a safe distance from one another as defined by the CDC) and rally against our foes. Let's do our best to build one another up.

If you glean one lesson from reading “Grammar Guy” each week, it's this: Don't be a jerk. When you lord your grammar prowess over someone (especially in public), no one's going to want to hang out with you. Feel free to be right; you'll soon find yourself correcting an empty room.

Let's touch quickly on two commonly confused words: “contagious” and “infectious.” These words don't share the same definition. When something is contagious, it is spread by some sort of direct or indirect physical contact. If something is contagious, it means that there's a possibility of its being transmitted from one host to another. Every virus or disease that is contagious is also infectious.

Infectious diseases are a result of germs such as bacteria or viruses. Some infectious diseases are contagious, but not all are. You can't catch Lyme disease from another human; you contract it from a tick bite, which contains a nasty bacterium called Borrelia. So, Lyme disease is infectious, but not contagious.

These little germs can cause global pandemics; little grammar spats shouldn't cause rifts in relationships. We need each other more than ever now, so let's put away the red pens for a bit, shall we?

Grammar plays a crucial role in our language and communication. However, to quote Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson in Spider-Man, not the guy on the rice box), “With great power comes great responsibility.” Just because we have the nuclear codes doesn't mean we should use them to kill gnats. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, as they say.

Let's take care of one another as we strive for physical health as well as grammar greatness.

Curtis Honeycutt, aka The Grammar Guy, is a Noblesville-based, award-winning syndicated humor columnist. His debut book, “Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life,” comes out May 1.


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