On Being A Grammar Pedant

Few things are guaranteed to irritate me more than bad grammar. Yes, I know that my reaction is out of all proportion to the sin, but it is the way that I was brought up.

For example, yesterday I made a complaint to Microsoft about some applications in the Windows Store. Today, I received a polite response back from Microsoft Support to acknowledge my feedback. It was signed:

Isabelle L.

You’re Partner at Microsoft
Use what you know. Do what you’ve always imagine

My eyes were caught by that “You’re” – so much so that I completely missed the fact that “imagine” should be “imagined”. I decided that I could not let this affront to the Queen’s English slide, so I replied to Isabelle thus:

Dear Isabelle L.,
Thank you for your response to my feedback.
Could I just point out that you have a grammatical error in your signature?
It should, I think, be:
“Your Partner at Microsoft”
and not “You’re Partner at Microsoft”; “You’re” is the abbreviated form of “You are”.
Such grammatical mistakes do not give a positive feeling about the quality of Microsoft’s customer support.
Yours sincerely,
Geoff Coupe

I have just had a reply back from her. It reads:

Hi Geoff,
Thanks for your observation. Greatly appreciated. I modified that.
Isabelle L.
You are Partner at Microsoft
Use what you know. Do what you’ve always imagine

Sigh. I think that I should just count to ten in future.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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7 Responses to On Being A Grammar Pedant

  1. James Daniel says:

    Many people are now working in English who didn’t learn it as a mother tongue and probably haven’t been taught it formally either. This applies to many people in the USA, even though the USA is nominally an “English-speaking” country. The more prevalent becomes the use of English as an international language of business (and increasingly everything else too) the worse this will get, I expect.

    I share your (or was that “you’re”?) sensibilities in this regard, but can hold out little hope. The only way forward seems to be to care less, or perhaps to hope that the Chinese will come to dominate global business in the way the USA has of late, and that in due course it will be Mandarin that gets the mashing to which English is presently subjected. The latter option feels too much like cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, for my taste.


    • Geoff Coupe says:

      James, I fear that you are right. I won’t live to see my revenge in the murdering of Mandarin, but I have no doubt that it will happen. Joss Whedon’s Serenity has shown the way…

  2. Peter Ferguson says:

    I have to agree with James that obviously English is not the ladies first language. I also note that American English is becoming the norm. I have succumbed to the extent that I now find it easier to use their version of spellchecker to avoid confusion with the rest of the English speakers who were not educated under the “Old English” system. My aged father is forever correcting his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren for their use of words such as, color, meter, ****ize, whereas I have given up long ago.

  3. Matt Healy says:

    When I wad in grad school I once had a roommate from Hong Kong whose English was excellent; he regularly got annoyed at errors made by US-born people who appeared not to care. Don’t get me started on the semicolon abuse regularly perpretrated by the sign maker at my workplace cafeteria. Have you read the book “Eats, shoots, and leaves”? Good book.

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