The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Columns

March 15, 2014

Krohn: Misplaced modifer of mine take — please

I often get comments — usually via email — after my columns appear.

I enjoy them, whether they're complimentary or not. Even if someone thinks I'm a twit, at least they read the column. Besides, I'm often a twit.

I like getting typed letters or, better yet, handwritten notes sent in the mail.

I got a nicely typed, unsigned note this past week after a column about my excess collection of coffee mugs.

"You are a good writer," it started.

My chest pumped up a little.

"But when your grammar is poor, it's a distraction. So please, use proper grammar."

Dang.

"You do not bring your mugs to the thrift store. You take them," the note continued.

She went on to give examples: Take the dog to the vet. Take the trash out. Bring me my pills. Bring me a glass of water.

I say "she" because I imagine a nice, retired English teacher writing the note. I know the note wouldn't be from my English teacher, Mrs. Zins from Nicollet, because she's always only said nice things about me even when I desecrate the language.

I appreciated the advice.

Besides, it was a lot nicer comment than we often get in the newsroom. My colleague Dan Nienaber has a collection of memorable voice messages. He writes about criminals and cops and court cases, so messages he gets tend to focus less on grammar lessons and more on descriptions of what anatomically impossible things they want him to do to himself and language he hasn't heard since he was in the Navy.

I have to say, though, that the Take/Bring thing is the least of my grammatical crimes.

Grammar sort of bored me and I've become even lazier since the advent of computer spell-checkers and grammar programs.

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