Which is worse? Poor manners or poor grammar? Why?
OK, first of all I must tell you that my initial reaction to this question was TOTALLY that of a girl, meaning, “If I were going to gossip about someone who was committing one or the other of these faux pas, which one would get the most reaction out of my fellow magpies?”
And I must also tell you that, from my own personal experience, it’s pretty easy to get a reaction to a statement like, “Oh my gosh, can you BELIEVE that he just referred to his wife as ‘my servant’ in front of all their friends?!”*
But when you are on vacation at the beach and you flounce into your hotel room in regally high moral indignation and announce to your husband that in no way, under any circumstances whatsoever, will you condescend to eat at the “Western Sizzlin” because its name is composed entirely of adjectives and contains no proper nouns whatsoever (if you can even comprehend such an abominable travesty against grammar), well in that case you’re pretty much on your own. (Fortunately for him, he’d packed A Lot of tequila.)
But you see, this is where the danger lies-this is the top of a very slippery slope. Because just about everyone has at least some sense of what is and what isn’t appropriate behavior. But what no one is talking about are the incalculable examples of violence done EVERY DAY to English grammar.
Like the people who use “myself” as a subject and think that this makes them sound “extra specially edumacated”:
-“John and myself attended the meeting”. Really-“Myself attended the meeting”? Did you now? And did they then take the only sensible course of action and FIRE YOUR ASS so that all of the people formerly at the mercy of the barrage of your constant verbal and written assaults could finally be put out of their misery?
Or the people who use the subject “I” as the object of a preposition, and think they are being SO MUCH SMARTER than the rest of us peasants who couldn’t correctly conjugate a verb if it knocked us down in the street and then sat on our head:
-“They presented the report to Todd and I”. Really-“They presented the report to I“? And did it say, “Could you please learn a freakin’ grammar rule once in a while?!” Or at least sound out your sentences to see whether or not they make sense?
-Also bad: “They presented the report to Todd and myself.” Really? In that case, I have no choice but to smite you with my Condescending And Inappropriately Superior Attitude Of Someone Who Actually Knows How To Use Reflexive Pronouns. I’m sure you will now feel suitable chastened.
It can be very lonely at times, this walking the path of a Grammar Snob. But that is a price I’m willing to pay. Even if it occasionally means floating up from the brink of a nitrous-induced coma to inform my dentist (who incidentally is just about to poke me with The Smokin’ Hot Drill Of ‘Thank God For Novocaine Because Otherwise This Would Really Hurt’) that the saying actually describes “killing multiple birds with one stone”, not throwing multiple stones at one bird. (Because I may be Book Smart, but sometimes I’m Life Dumb.)
*This actually happened. (Not to me.)
**Man, can I work myself up into an absolute rant about nothing or what?! I’m good.