/that/ vs. /who/

As a writer, I have been faced with people, both in my workshops, and people that are not, picking and poking at my grammar for years.  What they don’t understand is that in writing creatively, one writes in a vernacular – and that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am using a southern accent in writing or even going as far as writing in spliced language, HOWEVER, there is a spoken vernacular that is acceptable and used.  

I begin sentences with the word “and.”  And “so.”  And “but.”  People have an issue with that.

I use the ellipsis in a non-traditional way… which used to be to indicate that something was missing from a sentence.

I sometimes say “good” when I should say “well.”

And I interchange that and who in a non-grammatical way.  This blog is not my thesis.  This blog is not a professional letter or paper I am turning in.  And in dialogue in my stories, I hold the same theory.  People, when they speak, do not use perfect grammar all the time – even if they are writers or “academics”.

So to those that feel the need to debase my grammar and tell me that my way of speak is wrong (which is what they are saying, because I write here exactly how I speak), then don’t read anymore.  Maybe you can find a more grammatically-sound blog.  Maybe Perez Hilton or Just Jared have a better grasp on the English language than I do.


6 Responses

  1. I have one thing to say about this: Helena Bonham Carter. Endofstory.

  2. I’m incredibly amused by how offended you were by this considering you just insulted someone on this very blog for using what, in your opinion, is unacceptable grammar:

    The misuse of “your” vs “you’re” is ridiculously common; it’s become a part of instant messaging, text messaging, information-overloaded new-millennium culture. If he were to have read your response on your blog, he would have laughed and wondered why you’re so bothered by what is, in all honesty, as common a mistake as the misuse of “that” vs “who”.

    Grammar isn’t set in stone, it changes and adapts based on the culture, individuals, different settings, and time. I’m all for the evolution of language and, hell, through natural selection of English it seems as though the differentiation between “that” vs “who” might all but disappear one day. Since it hasn’t, though, you need to live with the fact that we live in a world where, no matter how common this misuse is, it still sounds…stupid. Not Modern, not Clever, not Hip Use Of Vernacular, just…stupid.

    I also would argue that regular conversation, and even LiveJournal, are a bit different than a blog; in my opinion (and it clearly seems that our opinions differ in this matter), blogs are more professional and deserve proper grammar, unless bad grammar is used intentionally as, like you said, some intentional use of vernacular. If you’re using this as a portfolio of some kind, people who read this and truly know the difference between that and who won’t see what you’re writing as intentional vernacular; they’ll see it as “hey, this girl doesn’t know the difference between that and who. That isn’t very smart.”

    By comparison, the modern use of ellipsis is an adaptation of the original use and serves a new function in writing that does not have a suitable alternative. The modern use of “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun is because there is no suitable alternatives. The only reason someone would use “that” when “who” would be more suitable is not to make the sentence more modern, or fit more into common vernacular, or to make the sentence flow better; the only reason to misuse that word is because the writer does not know how to use the words properly. Period.

  3. Yes, but if you are going to pick out one thing, you may as well comb through the rest and pick out all the other things that I have written “wrongly” such as starting a line with a conjunction, or the ellipsis thing, which one of my professors circled with a red pen on every paper.

    We had a few mutual friends that are way worse with writing, and cannot even string together a grammatically correct sentence in their journals, but I don’t see you inundating them with annoying diatribes on the proper use of words.

    And since out of the 100’s of people that read both my blog and my personal journal, YOU are the only one that has taken the time to point out the who vs. they thing, I don’t believe that it is as common a noted mistake as you’d like to think.

    I believe I have a fine grasp on the English language and if I had wanted a grammar lesson, I would have asked for one. The fact that you think the misuse of your/you’re is more acceptable than that/who obviously shows that you have no grasp on the reality of vernacular or are stuck in a pseudo-intellectual portal of misconception.

    People that are older, wiser, smarter, than both you and I have never noted my mistakes when it comes to that, so unless you suddenly want to switch to being an editor, I think if they’re ok with it, you should probably stick with what you are doing.

  4. Furthermore, maybe if you weren’t TRYING to be nitpicky on purpose, you would have noticed that the first line of this blog said “As I writer” instead of “As a writer”…

  5. I don’t think my comment was an annoying diatribe. Not my first one, at least. If anything, I meant it as an amusing jab in reference to my post (that you commented on, for that matter), not an attempt to offend you.

    Your grammar is better than the average person’s. By far. And if you weren’t someone who I knew was going into the field of writing, I probably never would have said anything in the first place. Plus, like I said above, it was meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek; a message that I clearly failed on with you.

    I’ll take to the grave that misuse of you vs that is just as wrong as your vs you’re. Sorry, but I will.

    PS – you misused “that” twice in your comment. Geeze, Sara; I wouldn’t mind you getting mad at me, but are you still so stubborn that you can’t learn the damn rule?

  6. TSK, TSK, now children, !!!!!!! go to your individual corners for a bit of a time out and chill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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