National Grammar Day

Mark your calendars. Not for Ground Hog Day. Not for Martin Luther King's Birthday Observed. But for National Grammar Day.

It's coming (or is it its coming?).

March 4 is National Grammar Day.

This exciting (?) holiday is the brainchild of Martha Brockenbrough, a writer friend of mine who wears fabulous glasses, is as stylish as she is grammatical, and has been known to dress herself and her two daughters up like white fluffy bunnies, and not just for Halloween.

So I asked Martha to tell me, please, all about National Grammar Day. In the few seconds it took to get her e-mailed responses I nearly burst my skin with excitement.

Here's what she said:

"We set aside days for all sorts of things. There's 'Secretary's' Day' (April 23), and 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' (Sept. 19). When you step back and think about what's really important, though, it's shocking to realize there's no day set aside to honor clear and precise speech &

something that would be impossible without grammar."

Shocking. Yes, shocking!

"National Grammar Day is on March 4 so that we can pause and remember the rules that help us communicate with and understand each other," Martha continued. "The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, which I founded, is behind this effort. We believe that with good communication, many of our world's most difficult problems can be solved."

It's not just grammar, it's poverty, global warming, and war that Martha is out to conquer!

But why March 4?

"March 4 is the only day of the year that doubles as an imperative. We can't resist a good pun. March forth for good grammar!"

Get it?

So, then I needed to know what her children think of their mother, the grammar geek, I mean, guru.

"I have two daughters, ages seven and almost four," Martha wrote . "The elder girl already corrects questionable grammar in her homework assignments. And the 3-year-old knows the difference between 'may I?' and 'can I?' I could not be more proud. That said, they will eagerly tell you about the many ways I embarrass them. I have not been permitted to sing in their presence since 2004."

My kids, on the other hand, laugh when I correct their grammar and keep saying it wrong on purpose. A typical conversation in our house: "Mommy, can me and Rachel go to the park?" "Honey, you mean, 'may Rachel and I go to the park?'" "Mo-oooomy, CAN we?!"

Martha's answer to my child-rearing grammatical challenges? "I think I love your kids," she said. "You could, however, pay them 25 cents to catch your grammar errors. My kids will do anything for pocket change""and they don't even spend it!"

What Martha doesn't know is that my kids correct me all the time, and for free! ("Mommy, your hair looks funny Mommy, you have tomato on your shirt Mommy, you forgot to tie your shoes "&

166;"). So now I have to pay them to find fault with my diction and syntax. What kind of holiday is this anyway?

A rather heterodox one, apparently. Martha &

gasp! &

insists it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition. And even to start one with a conjunction. But not all the time. And sentence fragments? "They're okay, too, when used sparingly."

Every once in awhile I let my kids lap milk from bowls like kittens instead of making them drink from glasses. Martha's like that with grammar too. "When you've really mastered the rules, you can break them for effect," my fanatically faultless friend says. "Mark Twain did this brilliantly."

has a new book, co-authored with James di Properzio, "The Baby Bonding Book for Dads," coming out in March (Willow Creek Press). She plans to pay readers 25 cents to find grammatical errors in it. A professional writer, she lives with her three grammatically incorrect children and one grammatically impeccable husband in Ashland.

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