Breaking up with an English Teacher

Breaking up with an English Teacher

[The following text exchange took place between a female business executive named Roxanne and her boyfriend of four years, Virgil, a high school English teacher.] 

Roxanne: Dear Virgil, I gotta tell you something and it’s been on my mind for a long time.

Virgil: Good evening, Roxanne. Thank you for your text. By the way, “gotta” is not proper English. I believe you meant to say, “I must” or “I have to.” What’s up?

Roxanne:  We need 2 talk. 

Virgil: You errantly used the digit “2” as in one more than one. So, you’ve lost me. We need “one plus one talk?” That makes no sense. Please clarify. 

Roxanne: Oh, for God’s sake, Virgil. 2 is short for “to.” We need TO talk. I cant wait any longer. 

Virgil: Sorry, still not clear on what you’re trying to convey – unless you mean “no, I can’t” in which case, don’t forget the apostrophe since it’s a contraction.   

Roxanne: Geez. Okay. Got it. 

Virgil: Who’s got what? “Got it” is missing a subject. Who has it? A policeman? The Queen of England? My schnauzer? My brain buzzes with possibilities. Could you clarify who it is that has it and what specifically does he or she have? 

Roxanne: Jesus, Virgil. I’m talking about US. We need to talk about US. 

Virgil: Capitalizing the letters US only makes sense if you’re referring to our country. But even then, technically you should put periods after the letters since it’s an abbreviation for United States. 

Roxanne: Virgil, focus. For the millionth time, I don’t need another syntax lesson. 

Virgil:  I believe you mean “another grammar” lesson. Syntax is about word order. Your mistake was – 

Roxanne: My MISTAKE was taking four freakin’ years to tell you what I should have told you four years ago. It’s over.  Continue reading “Breaking up with an English Teacher” »

Lessons in bonding

Lessons in bonding

Emailing my daughter - GirlRecently my college-age daughter Rachel emailed me, asking for help with a problem. Such an event – being rarer than a sighting of Halley’s Comet – calls for all-hands-on-deck-full-throttle parental engagement.  “I’m there for you, Rachel.”

Thus began an email exchange that I am proud to say profoundly impacted my daughter and our relationship. Her gratitude for my sage advice is evidenced in her words that, well, she couldn’t even put into words how helpful I was.

Rachel:  Hey, Dad. Wanted to ask you something. My boyfriend Brad and me had a fight. I saw him with my best friend Brianna. They were holding hands. He says she’s just a friend, but I think he’s lying. Should I confront him?

Me: Thanks for your email, Rachel. I am happy to help. Frankly, this is a common problem for many young people. In fact, your mom often struggled with similar issues when she was your age.

Here are my suggestions. First, never start a sentence with a verb unless it’s a command. When you write “Wanted to ask you something”, the reader is left wondering: Who wanted to ask me something? My daughter? My boss? A strange man in a tall hat? You never want to leave your reader guessing.

Also it’s not “Brad and me had a fight.” It’s “Brad and I.”  Me is the objective form of the first person pronoun. In this context, however, you need the subjective form.

Rachel: Whatever, Dad. I don’t think you understand. I think Brad is cheating on me. Last nite, I texted him. No reply. No idea what he’s up 2. What should I do? Continue reading “Lessons in bonding” »