Lessons in Language Arts

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    If you want your message to be understood by those who understand txt language, feel free to use it.

    However, if you want your message to be understood by everybody, it is best to use proper grammar (not grammer). That way there is less room for confusion and misinterpretation.

    And while we’re on the subject, do we all know the difference between people and things? When referring to people we use the word “who.” “That” is reserved for things.

    Wrong: The man that was walking down the street . . .

    Right: The man who was walking down the street . . .


    When I was young (back in the dark ages) I read the following sentence:

    James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher

    It looks fairly incoherent. However, with proper punctuation, it makes perfect sense.

    Here’s another one:

    The gaps between fish and and and and and chips are unequal

    Again, with proper punctuation, it will also make perfect sense.

    I’ll leave these for a day or two and see if anybody can make sense of these sentences, before I post the corrected versions.

    But, as you can see, without proper punctuation, it can be very difficult for your reader to understand what you are trying to say.


    James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher…

    hmm, still working on the other one…

    what about this one?

    Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

    this one doesnt really need punctuation but rather an understanding of the words… (did I just give it away?)


    “The gaps between fish and and and and and chips are unequal”

    I have not yet made sense of the first sentence, but this is what I think of the above sentenc:

    (Copy editor or proofreader, presumably making corrections on a written page): The gaps between “fish” and “and” and “and” and “chips” are unequal. OR – “The gaps between ‘fish’ “and” ‘and’ “and” ‘and’ “and” ‘chips’ are unequal.”

    Haifagirl, I am notorious in my family for stressing gramamtical correction in all areas. My parents O”H taught me to speak properly, and though my dad was not born in this country, his verbal skills were legendary. My biggest pet peeves include, “Between you and I,” (which sounds as though it ought to be proper English, but is grammatically incorrect), “It’s me!” (as a response to “Who is it?” (the correct response really should be,”It’s I,” which ironically sounds INCORRECT to the ear), and people who pronounce the word “nuclear” as “nukular.” OK, I have many more pet peeves, but these really bother me.

    I am not saying I am perfect (far from it), but I see such a degradation of the written AND spoken English language. There is no longer such a course as elocution in the school system, whereas in my mother’s day, students had to pass such a course in order to be graduated, and they were the better for it. The way in which we express ourselves is the very first impression people get of our intelligence. I may not be a Rhodes scholar, but I would not want people to believe me to have grown up in an intellectual wasteland, either.

    Enunciation is also a very crucial part of this issue. And lest anyone believe it is not, just think how crucial proper enunciation is l’havdil, in layning the Torah. I just believe that the area of Language Arts has become lost, and I would dearly love to see (and hear) people bringing it back to full bloom.


    “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

    this one doesnt really need punctuation but rather an understanding of the words… (did I just give it away?) “

    Not to me, cetainly.

    BTW, I HATE people using shorthand (as I just did, by the way) in texting. I am getting seasick reading these messages.


    I must admit – I’m totally buffaloed.


    This is a great place to discuss semantics, syntax, morphology and related areas. As a fairly proficient writer of the English language, I would love to see improvement in these skills.

    Instead of insulting other posters, whose primary language may or may not be English, why don’t we all bring mistakes we notice to this thread, so that posters can benefit from the discussion without feeling attacked, and threads can stay on topic without being hijacked in the name of “education”? Of course, those who are not irritated by errors need not post here at all.

    I think this alternative may make everyone happier.


    Buffalo can mean either a place (as in NY), an animal, or “to bully”.

    So, to make it easier, change all those that mean “animal” to “dogs”. Additionally, it would be easier to change all those that mean “Buffalo, NY” to “Alaska”.

    Alaskan dogs, (whom other) Alaskan dogs bully, bully Alaskan dogs.

    To bring it back to the original meaning: bison from Buffalo intimidate (other) bison from Buffalo that bison from Buffalo intimidate.

    oomis- people who write as if they are texting annoy me as well. I end up turning my head sideways to try to understand it, as if that view makes things clearer and more understandable. I understand that places like this do not need a “grammar police” but as some have mentioned before, writing clearly and understandably is being respectful to the readers. If I cant understand it the first or second time through, I give up and ignore the post. Just FYI all you “texters” out there… 😉


    oomis1105: Your biggest pet peeves are also mine. Whenever I hear “between you and I,” I cringe. And you got the “fish and chips” on the first try.

    I used to hear a commercial on the radio for a place which I think was called “The Language Institute.” It began, “People judge you by the way you speak . . . ” It was geared toward people in business who need to sound professional if they want to get ahead.

    NY Mom

    havesomeseichel: James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher…

    Sorry, haifagirl and havesomeseichel. I am college educated, but still don’t get this one. Please clarify. Thanks.


    1) James and John both wrote papers, or took some kind of test.

    2) John had written “had.”

    3) James had written “had had.”

    4) The teacher preferred “had had.”

    Ex: Haifagirl had a cold. (And still has it.)


    Haifagirl had had a cold. (And is better now.)


    Two boys, not students at this yeshiva, are walking by the Yeshiva tennis courts with a disappointed look on their face.

    The Rosh Yeshiva asks them what is the problem. They had intended to play tennis, but when they got to the court saw the sign:

    Yeshiva Students Only

    No Visitors Allowed

    Completetly without punctuation.

    The Rosh Yeshiva, who is used to reading, interpreting and analyzing texts without punctuation, tells the boys they may play tennis there. He says that the sign he saw, actually read:

    Yeshiva Students Only?

    No! Visitors Allowed.


    ronsr – kind of like No Fishing Allowed?

    Or – in NYC it is illegal to make a right on red, but in Nassau County it’s legal. Allegedly, a bochur was pulled over by a cop in NYC (I guess right over the border) for making a right on red.

    The bochur said, “To tell you the truth, officer, I am not from around here, and I didn’t know if it’s legal to make a right on red. These two guys in the back seat were arguing when we came to the corner, because there was a sign that said ‘No right on red’. One said that it’s illegal because it says ‘no right on red’, and the other one said ‘no! right on red!’ so it’s legal. I didn’t know what to do, so I listened to the second one and made a right on red.”


    We always laughed about the signs- SLOW CHILDREN CROSSING HERE!!(Slow! Children crossing here). Punctuation please!


    This entire thread just reminded me of a sign in a college parking lot where my daughter was ticketed for parking illegally (without a sticker). I cannot recall the wording of the sign, but its ambiguity was VERY similar to the tennis sign posted by ronrsr. When I read the sign, I, too, would have made the same mistake as my daughter’s, and I would have thought I could park there. There was no punctuation.


    There was actually a true story about a guy who gets pulled over for making a left at an intersection that had a “No left turn” sign. He rolls down his window and tells the cop (in his best Russian accent), “Officer, I come to the intersection, I vanted to make right turn, but the sign says, ‘no! left turn.'” the officer told him that if he can say that again with a stright face he would let him off, vicach hava!


    haifagirl; lol! A classic. Tthough you messed it up, I still got the idea, though

    I think you confused many. Here goes…

    without proper puntuation.

    John had had had James had had had had had had had had the teacher’s approval!


    Thank you b_h. With all the drugs I’m taking right now, I’m not surprised my brain is in a fog. But I don’t see where I messed up. Please explain.

    And on the subject of signs, there’s one in a ladies room that says, “Beware of stolen purses.” I’ve always wondered what those stolen purses are up to that I need to beware of them.

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