Hello! I'm the Cranky Grammarian, and I'd like to welcome you to my educational column all about the intricacies of American grammar. As someone who sincerely cares about the rules of everyday usage and punctuation, the CG could not help but be cranky in today's world chock full of misplaced apostrophes, incorrect pronoun usage, and the like.
By the way, I'm not the only one who feels these issues are important. "Eats Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" has been on the best-seller lists for months. That's right, a book about how to punctuate is a best seller in the 21st century--I have been vindicated! (And apparently also years ahead of my time, since I first starting writing this column in 1998. . .)
Sometimes incorrect usage can be attributed to sheer laziness; refusing to look things up because you think you know it, but you don't. Or you may even see something in print and assume, "It's in print, so it must be correct, right?" WRONG. Why, even business Web sites are often filled with grammatical and punctuation errors! Were it up to me, these transgressors would, of course, be shot, or at the very least soundly thrashed and humiliated in public.
Most grammarians pick a particular style guide to adhere to, and the only one I believe is practical for both personal and business writing is "The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law." If it's capped in there, I cap it; if a prefix is hyphenated in there, I hyphenate it. The AP Stylebook: use it, know it, love it. Next to me and your turtle, it should be your best friend.
I hope you enjoy these occasional missives and that they help you improve your everyday speaking and writing--something that should impress everyone you come into contact with during the day. Don't think of these tutorials as work; remember, the smarter you are the more likely you are to become a contestant on "Jeopardy."