And Then There Were Three

Ellen understands perfectly

Were it not for Word and my lovely editor, you would all know that I can’t spell. Neither can I grammar nor punctuate. You have no idea how I fret over the previous sentence. You also have no idea if it’s the sentence I wrote, ‘cuz editor. I tried two free grammar-checking websites before I gave to the Mrs., but I still worry. Now, according to Ellen, I have even more to worry about.

Not more things, but more tasks at which I can fail.

According to a tidbit contained in Ellen’s latest post.

Note: There’s nothing going on between Ellen and me. I know, I tend to mention her often, but it’s just an interesting coincidence. See the thing is that I tend to read Ellen’s blog just before the #SoCS prompt is released, when the SoCS prompt is released early. I like to read a few blogs at lunch, and when Linda publishes the #SoCS prompt around that same time, the gears start turning and the voices in my head start yapping, and it’s all downhill from there.

Speaking of “downhill,” you should do some research on Ellen’s blog to learn about all the things people in England like to roll down hills., like cheese and things that are on fire.

Anyway, according to Ellen’s blog, punctuation is a whole ‘nother thing from grammar.

You know, it was bad enough when I was bad at spelling and grammar, but at least I was only bad at two things. I mean, I’m good at math. I math real well. And, I’m good at science. Now I have to add “and I’m good at computer stuff” to offset this new breakout category of punctuation as a third domain where I often fail. It’s OK, my editor punctuates well, and she usually catches most of my errors. If she misses one, David will let me know.

I think David likes catching an error that the Mrs. misses even more than he delights in finding my errors. My errors are only worth one point. Catching the editor in an error must be worth 10 points. Catching Ellen in an error – she used to be a copy editor – is worth 25 points. If there are any errors in this post, you can be sure those two will point them out.

Now I’m worried that the stress will be too much for my editor. She might abandon me to my own devices on this one.

Since I math well, I’m trying to apply set theory to this trifecta of error I find myself in.

I’m guessing I lost a few readers. I know, it’s Saturday. Some of you read this with your first cup of coffee. Some of you don’t like math. I’m not naming names, Joey, Mary, but I know you’re out there.

So, we have three sets: Spelling, Grammar, and now, Punctuation. The Union of these sets, that is the stuff that falls into any of them, would be the English-language-challenged writer that is Dan. It’s the Intersection of these sets that is giving me trouble. For example:

“…his interest was peaked when…”

That’s a mistake I actually made in a long-ago post. The proper word is ‘piqued’. My editor might have known that, but sometimes I edit my post after she gives it the ‘all clear’ signal. The question is, is that a grammatical error or a spelling error? I would guess, which is pretty much what I’m always doing with these three things, that word-choice falls under grammar. Peaked vs. piqued = grammar. Picued vs. piqued = spelling. Picue vs. peak = the intersection of grammar and spelling, i.e. it falls into both sets.

I know, I know. It’s too early for Venn Diagrams.

I hear the complaints. I’ll stop.

Before leaving, I want to point out two classes of errors with which I should not be charged: One is typing induced errors. For example, earlier I typed “thrid” instead of “third.” That’s bad, and Word caught that one. I often type “form” instead of “from.” Word misses that but the Mrs. doesn’t.

The second case is technology induced errors. When I wrote “the Mrs. misses…” Word capitalized the ‘m’ in misses. I won’t even talk about the horrible things my cell phone does.

I’m curious as to whether I could make an error that is in the intersection of grammar, spelling AND punctuation. I’ll let you know if I find one.

Ooooh, I got one: He said, “I just wanted to look in thier”, as he peeked into the room.

“Thier” vs. “their” = spelling
“Their” vs. there = grammar
Comma outside the quote = punctuation

I could make those mistakes, easy peasy.


This post has been part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday challenge. And, I think I have some bonus points coming.

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “spell.” Use the word “spell” any way you’d like. Bonus points if you use it in the first sentence. Enjoy!”


  1. Heavy lifting here, Dan, for a Saturday, but I have a large cup of coffee so I made it through. :-) I really had no difficulty because I’m of the sentence diagramming age and enjoyed several smiles while thinking of the nuns drilling these subjects into our little heads. Heck, I even remember carrying a dictionary with the rest of my books to class. Imagine explaining to kids today about carrying a dictionary around. :-)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What a great post! The good nuns taught me diagramming as well, though I didn’t use an abacus. My dictionary was always at my side, but it has sat on the shelf for years with the arrival of the internet – I just can’t seem to part with it. Thanks for the adventure into the English writing world!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You must be exhausted! I find that if it sounds right then it probably is acceptable. My beef? You’re/your . . . real/really . . . which/witch . . .Is your interest piqued!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Okay, I am a spelling bee “champion,” daughter of a high school Spanish and English teacher, plus I taught middle school Language Arts. That was my major, minor in El Ed Reading. :)
    I followed your logic and loved your way of illustrating the topic, Dan!! My background included your “trifecta” of grammar, spelling and punctuation. I have cellphone errors, I make punctuation errors and get aggravated at the quotation mark rule since it looks “messy” in a list! I like the tidy appearance of quotes “tucked nearly between commas.” My Mom seemed to nod and agree with my young writing patterns but efficiently took her red pen to my papers which then had to be totally rewritten. That being said, two of my three grown children NEVER mastered spelling nor writing without errors. It must not be inherited trait. ;) I fear with texting shorthand, we have lost the art of writing. You have and always will have, in my mind, a true “art” of writing. You know one of your literature or English professors knew it. :) :) This was such a pleasure reading over my second cup of coffee!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, thanks Robin. I really enjoyed English classes, but I came/come up short with those fundamentals. I bought a cheat sheet a few years ago. I keep it handy, but I still make mistakes. Fortunately, spell-check helps more often than it hurts and my editor is able to fix the rest. Although, she said this post, with its intentional errors, made her head hurt.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Poor wife! I bet it is quite an undertaking! I kind of spoiled my two daughters while they could form fantastic papers in college, they needed “an editor,” so their papers were sent to my school computer. Believe it or not, my ex-husband thought it was cheating for me to help them create a spelling error-free paper so “No homework was allowed on my home computer!”
        I stayed till five o’clock sometimes staying connected with the girls. Sadly, Jamie was much better in spelling and creative papers than the two girls and chose cooking as his life’s work. :)


    • I added that on purpose just to make you guys shiver a little. People verbify (look it up – Verbification, or verbing, is the creation of a verb from a noun, adjective or other word) stuff all the time. It’s funny, because I do that in my posts every now and then, but the only one I’ve ever been called out on is ‘math’. I was even called out on Twitter when someone was talking about the Pentium chip and I asked: “was that the one that couldn’t math?”


  5. LOL. Good one, Dan. No one’s perfect — that certainly applies to me. Imagine how boring and downright annoying it would be if we were all so robotic and perfect. Unless the robots were spellcheck bots… each from a different software vendor. OMG… I hope none of them have the red nuke button. Happy Saturday. And happy Caturday to the kitties.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cavalry…Calvary. Potato…potahto…let’s just admit we all have challenges. Mine is that I don’t edit enough. You know from all my comment errors. I ‘live’ people far more than love them to be sure! Of course, for me loving them is living them too! So I forgive myself for that one. Happy Saturday Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know what happened, Dan, but I thought I made a very witty comment over two hours ago. I totally got and appreciated your post without coffee or tea and half awake. I love spelling, punctuation and grammar…so to each their own, right? You do the math, I’ll spell.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As I’ve written a number of Grammar nazi posts on my blog in the past, I enjoyed this blathering, Dan. SpellCheck is helpful but not infallible, as it misses words that are real words but incorrect for that sentence. Four incense, eye could right this and SpellCheck wood never notice. :-)

    Flying fingers, both typing and posting, can cause irretrievable errors no matter what/who lurks to try to catch them. As for Venn diagrams, I like them, too, being somewhat mathematically-minded.

    Happy Saturday!


    Liked by 2 people

    • I like your example, Janet. I’ve tried to come at grammar from a number of different angles over the years. I’ll never get it, but I think I’m getting better. Computer based tools don’t always help. If I forced these errors into my iPad, it would now accept them as being ok.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I hate to break this to you, Dan, but using the wrong word is not grammar, it’s yet another element: diction, or error in word choice. You mean pique but you use peak: chose the wrong word. Now, if you said, “They piques my interest,” that’s an error in grammar, since it should be, “They pique my interest.” Right word, right spelling, but the verb doesn’t agree with the subject. You’re welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 1. I can’t math or science, and if we want to break those into smaller categories, I can’t physics, chemistry, or–well, my built-in copy editor is in pain from the way I’m using nouns as verbs, so I won’t make the list any longer. My point is that–. What is my point? We all learn different skills. We also manage to not-learn different skills. And boy did I not-learn a few.

    2. Someone did catch an error in that very post–a random capitalization of an I. I haven’t bothered to fix it, although it’s nagging at me so I probably will. It’s almost impossible to proofread your own writing. You’ll see what you think you wrote instead of what you did write. Twenty-five points, plus a bonus point because I haven’t fixed it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ha, ha. I have made many of those errors. Especially when I am typing quickly I can transpose letters. If you spell the word correctly, but it is still not the right word in meaning, the spell check does not catch it. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I *think* I’m pretty good at spelling and grammar, or at least good enough that I come across as reasonably articulate. However, I know I use punctuation with a lot less precision and I’m sure it makes some people cringe.

    This is the second time in one day I’m going back to English as a second language with you, but …. both my parents were immigrants and English was their second language. When I was in university, my mom would write me letters (sounds funny to write that now) that were hilarious. She wrote with NO punctuation – none at all. No capitals, no commas, no periods … just one very long run-on sentence, on and on for a couple of pages. Her punctuation, combined with her handwriting, made her letters a major project to read.
    Depending on how I chose to read it, inserting pauses and stops, it was often laugh-out-loud funny.
    God – I miss my mom’s letters! :D

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I can completely relate to your spelling, grammar, and punctuation challenges. My Mr. reads my posts after I’ve released them out into the blogosphere so I’ve already embarrassed myself before I have a chance to fix my mistakes. I do know that I use way too many commas (in addition to being a firm believer in the Oxford comma)… and ellipses (I had to look up that spelling – even Word was no help).

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think Grammarly can help you to some extent. I write 50 hours a week so I have tried and tested so many sites that offer grammar and punctuation help, but none are that good. Personally, for me, spelling matters. It is a part of me so I can’t do much. I guess I told you this that my friends and family know me for picking their spelling errors. They don’t like it so they never write to me. My birthday cards come blank for the fear that I will pick mistakes. For me, spelling is an indicator of the person’s attention to detail. However, in the past few years I have changed so I don’t pick spelling errors even if I spot them. I just divert my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I was a documentation manager for years and if there’s one thing that drives me buggy it’s editors who argue points of grammar like it was an exact science. It’s not! I like your Venns.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I worked for a guy ver 30 years ago who was always looking for grammar errors. We used to make three errors, on purpose, within the first two pages. Once he found those, he didn’t look as hard. I guess he felt like he had made his contribution.


  16. Look at you with your Venn diagrams makin a language arts issue into a spatial issue. I don’t care about your errors or your editor’s errors. I enjoy your posts. Sometimes your comments read like drunk texts, and I LOL to myself, but these things happen to everyone, especially on a stupid phone. I always get what you mean.
    I wonder, not that I should say this, but I’m me, so you know I’m gonna — but I wonder what your editor starts out with, cause I know I’ve read some posts she didn’t edit, I can tell. When The Mister gives me his stuff to edit, I don’t even know where to start. I wonder if your Mrs feels the same? That’s a lot of pressure sometimes.
    The point is rather that you fellas are good and interesting people, who tell good stories.
    Regardless, this post was delightful and I am honored to be mentioned as a math-twit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wouldn’t say “math twit” just someone who would rather avoid math with that first cup. As for those unedited posts, it’s mostly punctuation, word order and the occasional “I don’t know what you’re trying to say.” She will nix stuff that is inappropriate, but I don’t go there often. She doesn’t edit One-Liner Wednesday posts, and I’ve been tagged with some doozies on those. And, sometimes there isn’t time (usually when I’m late). She edits my work stuff to, which is hard because it’s technical. I think this blog is easier to edit than my SharePoint blog was. At least I hope so.

      I appreciate your reading and your comments. I even appreciate your corrections (you made at least one).

      The dumb phone comments are part dumb phone, part fat fingers and part related to the fact that I can only see 2-3 lines of what I’ve written.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Commas mess me up all the time. I frequently get posts back from my wife’s review where she’s deleted two commas and added two other ones. That was actually the subject of one of my posts. I guess it’s good, more things to write about.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh my heavens! Seriously, Dan? Must we be this serious about writing? Have you glimpsed of late the writing of the “newer generation” where no capitalization is used or proper spacing is used between sentences or proper punctuation is used for that matter either? Now THAT is problematic that these young people don’t even know how to write properly. And oh let’s not forget those who write in emoticons. Really?? YOU have nothing to worry about and IF you have those who get a kick out of correcting you, let them. Make their day! LOL And oh, is there any way we can disconnect spell check? I used to be able to because I LIKE to edit my own work and I LIKE to tease my brain by knowing how to spell correctly. And about MY phone! I could throw it through a window some days how it spells what I do NOT type. Anyways … I refuse to be all serious and follow the rules. I know how to write well, and yes I do improve my techniques upon practicing writing. I LIKE the way I write and I LIKE the way you write. Why? Because both of our styles define who we are. Huh. Take that to the bank. Tee hee …….. :) <3

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amy. I’m ok with all of this, but I like to rant a little. You can turn spellcheck off, both in Word and on your phone (if it’s an iPhone). I need it more than it bothers me. Writing well is in danger, but there will always be those who can.


  18. Great post Dan! Kudos to your Mrs. who is a great Editor. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished to have an Editor go over my posts. I leave out words, and make the typo form for from too, and I always type “the” like teh. My fingers always get the e, and h backwards. Thankfully Spellcheck does get that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m typing this comment on my phone so I’m living on the edge here but let’s see how we go. My best subject in my final exams at school was English. Then I went on to get a degree in Applied Mathematics so I understood all of this post. And laughed a lot. But I use punctuation any. damn. way. I. want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A mathematician who can write well. That might put you in a very narrow demographic. Thanks for the comment. I think punctuation should be used to cause people to read your writing the way you would read it to them.


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