Letter from Al
I got a letter forwarded from Washington, from Senator Al Franken. The letter, which is dated October 26, 2010, says:
“Congratulations on being sworn-in as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine and representing our country through your community service. Your dedication to improving the world is a testament to your leadership and recognition of your duty to contribute back to your community.
“The contributions that you are making will leave a lasting impact on these parts of the world that need it most. I’m thrilled to see Minnesotan’s [sic] who are committed to working hard and reaching out to those who are less fortunate. My friend, Senator Paul Wellstone, always said “the future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard” and I believe that you embody exactly what Paul was saying.
“Your commitment to public service is inspiring and I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.
United States Senator”
I have to admit that the first thought in my mind was “I cannot believe that they sent out a letter with such a grammatical error.” I appreciate the sentiment of the letter, I really do, though I do not believe that Senator Franken ever actually SAW the letter, or knew that it was sent – that is what his staff is there to do. Nonetheless, it was nice to receive, as sometimes we who are working in Peace Corps can forget that there are people out there who appreciate the work we do. I wonder if I were to write to Senator Franken, whether he would respond, and ask me how my service is going? Hmm…tempting to try and see what happens. Especially when my close-of-service time nears and I will be job searching.
Now, back to that grammatical error. It is a pet peeve of mine, the misplaced apostrophe. Unfortunately, it is also increasingly, and maddeningly, common, both this, and other, glaring errors in grammar. But the misplaced apostrophe…that is the worst for me. There is a simple rule that I learned in grammar school regarding the use of an apostrophe – an apostrophe is used to indicate possession or to make a conjunction. Period. The ONLY time it is not used to indicate possession is in the case of “it’s” where it forms the conjunction of “it is”. How is this a difficult rule to understand and apply? For years, I have seen the apostrophe popping up when people form plural words. WHY? Just add an “s” to make a plural (or an “es” in some cases).
Maybe I am a grammar nut because I have an undergraduate degree in Journalism, which means that I see grammar mistakes everywhere, and they drive me crazy. We are getting so lazy with the English language that it is sad. I mean, it is bad enough that we recognize non-words like “irregardless” and “de-thaw”, but why are we accepting this misuse of the apostrophe, when the rule regarding such use is pretty simple?
In reality, there are 12 rules for using an apostrophe, but they are all related to possession and contractions. I found these rules, which I remember because I grew up learning them but cannot necessarily just write them all out, at a great link called GrammarBook.com. It is a great site to bookmark if you need assistance with grammar questions.
I will stop my rant before I start making people mad at me!