Monday, August 23, 2010


I'm spending my morning proof-reading documents for Attorney 5.  Because I'm considered to be the best proof-reader in the office, all of our proof-reading falls in my lap.  I don't really have any problem with proof-reading, but it's somewhat ironic that they think I'm so good at it.*

The irony lies in the fact that, at best, I have the grammar skills of a tenth grader.  At worst, I could be likened to a fifth grader who has been held back a couple of years.

Somehow, I must have missed that part of my education which was supposed to teach basic grammar.  For instance, I can't diagram a sentence to save my life, I don't understand grammatical concepts like "passive voice," and I use semi-colons with reckless abandon; having no real knowledge of how they are to be correctly used.

Yeah, I can pick out misspelled words and basic inconsistencies, like referring to a client by three different names in a brief.  However, if you want me to proof-read for anything more substantial, you're out of luck.  Pretty much, if I can make sense of what I'm reading, I assume that it's right.

For better or worse, that's how I do grammar - and it has made me the best proof-reader my office has ever seen.

Low standards are my kind of standards.

*Also ironic, is that I'm finally being forced to learn grammar through my French class and a recently acquired interest in linguistics.  I'm in my late 20's and I'm just now learning about "prepositions" and "subordinate clauses."  How sad is that?


  1. What's hard is when you're proofreading the work of someone whose first language is not english. They make mistakes that wouldn't even occur to you and it forces you to learn the basic principles of grammatical rules that you had taken for granted.

  2. Learning a foreign language is great for understanding your native language better. Unfortunately, many people who had the kind of education you had are lost at first. I saw this over and over in a German class I took at the local community college. If you don't know the difference between a direct and an indirect object, all that blather about the dative and accusatve cases is going to go right over your head. But as I say, once you're forced to learn this stuff for a foreign language, you end up with a better command of English. Bonne chance!

  3. I never learned to diagram sentences. And I recently learned that sometimes the passive voice is okay.

    I love proofreading. Using a red pen to mark up other people's crap writing is my favorite. I generally go for readability and misspellings, as those are most important.

  4. Sounds like they run a tight ship at your office.

  5. I've never been good at proper grammar or even spelling. I can proofread but like you nothing substantial. In grad school, one of professors told me to read from the end and go backwards. It takes longer but it definetly helped in editing my papers. I try to do that whenever I can so I can pick up on more mistakes.