Hoping to get better

My apologies in advance to English and Language teachers. I hated your class in school! I did well enough, I guess, I took three Mathematics, three Science, and an English kicker in Grade 13. Yes, I know, I’m old. I wasn’t interested in English but it was a fallback in case I stumbled in any of the other classes.

I was the kid, when you assigned a writing assignment like an essay, whose hand immediately shot up “How long does it have to be?” If you said “three pages”, you’d get three pages and not one word more. I ended up typing my essays because I learned that you could move the left and right margins in just a bit so that there were less words and yet it still looked the same.

I had no intention of being an author so I couldn’t see a great deal of value in it. It was an attitude that lasted until my first year at university in a computer science class of about 100 students when we were told that only 30% of us would become professional programmers. The rest wouldn’t be written off; there are all kinds of jobs in the computer industry other than programming and being able to write would help if we got a job writing manuals or documentation. Hmmm, or become a teacher?

I took those words to heart and started to get very serious about writing to support my love of mathematics or programming where I could. As a teacher, I ensured that there were marks for documenting computer solutions in addition to being able to code that solution.

And, I started to blog. It was intermittent and experimental on a number of platforms until I got to this place. For the longest time now, I do follow the advice of Mrs. Ball and write something everyday, even if it’s not graded. So, here we are today.

I’m a sucker I guess for online tutorials but I like to think that they and a daily writing habit have made me a better writer. I actually use some of the strategies that I was taught years ago but never really took seriously. I’ll never be a great writer like my friend David Garlick but I hope that I get better with my habits.

Speaking of David, a Twitter message went flying by on my timeline last night that caught my eye. He had retweeted this.

I actually knew that! The Cookie Monster reference would have come after my time but we talked about this somewhere a long time ago. Now, I already follow David but I decided to follow Mr. Gallagher as well.

And then, “Wait! Grammarly has a blog?”

Indeed it does! It more than that annoying English teacher that looks over my shoulder pointing out every little mistake that I make. I know, things do get through but I look forward to reading the blog posts and get better.

I could throw in that typical teacher comment about being lifelong … but I’ll resist. I’m looking forward to getting better at this little hobby.

Once again, it shows the value of following smart people like David. They can lead you to ever smarter and more useful learning. And that’s why I do it.

5 thoughts on “Hoping to get better

  1. Good morning Doug!

    I don’t know if I might have mentioned this particular little bug a boo of mine on your blog before during one of the previous instances when you talked about grammar. It’s one of those things that you hear people use all the time, and it has become so commonplace and insinuated into daily speech that even the announcers on the CDC use it incorrectly.

    It all relates to the preposition that follows to the adjective “different,”

    Everybody and his brother incorrectly says “different than,” when in reality they should be saying “different from.”

    For example, “My backpack is different than your backpack,” is what you will hear — Which really doesn’t make any sense because than is used in conjunction with more or less to compare quantities. If we were both comparing our backpacks against a third backpack, And my backpack exhibited more differences from the standard than yours did, it would make sense to say “my backpack is *more different than* your backpack. But without a third-party standard with which to make a comparison, saying *different than* is nonsensical.

    What someone really should say is “My backpack is different *from* your backpack.”

    If you keep an ear out for this, I will guarantee that you will hear “different than“ all the time, and every time you hear it, if you query it in context, you will realize that although it has become colloquial, it is grammatically incorrect.

    Have a fun day!


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