In my family, it is common knowledge that the use of improper English means it’s fair game for everyone else to make fun of you. We don’t do it in a malicious way and, for the most part, we only make fun of each other (though sometimes we correct people when they’re on TV). However, I grew up in a family that stressed the importance of proper English when speaking and writing. Let’s face it, even if you’re extremely intelligent and well-educated, if you say “it don’t”, you’re not going to be taken as seriously as someone who says “it doesn’t”.
I was very lucky to go through a school system that stressed proper sentence structure and grammar. I wish I would have taken spelling a bit more seriously as it is something I still struggle with today (thank goodness for Spell Check). I do realize that not everyone had it ground into their minds that “to be” verbs (am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been) were evil (thankfully I’ve outgrown that and I allow myself to use more than one per paragraph) and had pop quizzes on the different types of commas. However, there are a few simple tricks to help you decide if something is grammatically correct before you put it online for everyone to see.
Me vs. I
Easy. Take the other person out of the sentence. I can’t tell you how many times I see something like this as a photo caption,”Mike and I at the zoo”. This is not correct. Would you say “I at the zoo”? No, you would say, “me at the zoo” to describe the photo. Even though “me at the zoo” sounds weird, put Mike back in the sentence and imagine a picture of two people at the zoo above it. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
Double negatives are never ok. NEVER. I once had to bite my tongue at Target when I heard a mother tell her kids, “I’m not buying nothing for nobody!” Since she looked like she could take me with one swift blow, I kept the comment of, “that means you’re buying something for everyone” to myself. Please don’t used double negatives, trust me, you’ll be better off.
Him & Her vs. He & She
People seem to have problems knowing which one to use. Once again, it can be easily solved by taking yourself out of this sentence. For example, “her and I went to the store”. Would you say “her went to the store”? This is the easiest way I have found to fix this common problem. Remember too, when answering the phone, it is proper to say “this is he” rather than “this is him” because you wouldn’t say “him is not here”.
Though some of these sentences may sound a little goofy, they are the proper way to speak and write. Though the use of improper English may slip when you’re hanging out, talking with friends, if it slips on social media, it’s out there forever. So if you have on your resume that you’re an excellent writer and someone looks at your Facebook profile where they see “Her and I went to the movie on Friday”, they may think twice about your English skills.