All writers and editors live in a constant state of frustration. Each and every blog, social media post, newspaper article, etc. are filled to the brim with incorrect grammatical phrases, punctuation errors, and badly written content that make us shake our collective heads. We usually grit our teeth and walk away, but today is not that day. My writer and editor friends will surely feel my pain, and I hope the rest of you get a kick out of the frustration that lives in the mind of a writer. Disclaimer: For you PETA-type people out there, don’t get your dander up. This post is not about dogs. If the subject was purple Chevys, I would have written the same thing.
I read the following letter on a forum a while back. As a writer, I’m agitated by the grammar. The more I look at it, the more I’m frustrated by the content. I copied and pasted it exactly as it appeared, and I have wasted my entire morning
ripping it to shreds writing a blog about it.
There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard. I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water. Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter? I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” – Anonymous Liker
While this letter is probably written by a good-deed doer, and I am all for rescuing neglected and abused animals, the post has many issues one simply cannot overlook. Grammar is the least of its problems.
“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.”
There’s no need for a comma in this sentence. Why would a question need to be anonymous? Oh, you meant the person asking the question wishes to remain anonymous. Oh.
“There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard.”
Where does one even start? This is a run-on sentence with two topics – the dog and ‘they.’ “You can see every single bone” is an exaggeration. It is not possible to see every single bone unless you’ve dissected the dog, in which case we have another problem. We understand the dog is skinny, but this exaggeration leads us to believe that nothing else you’ve written here is completely true either. I’m going to ignore the “their” typo, but who is “they” in the last part of the sentence? I’m thinking you mean your neighbors? Wait! If you know this is your neighbor’s dog, why don’t you take him home? Hang on to that thought for a moment.
I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water.
Is this a different dog? Do you have THIS dog in your possession? This sentence has me wondering how you knew this dog was wondering. Was he sitting on your back porch in the pose of The Thinker? Oh, you meant wandering, as in roaming around. Why didn’t you say so? Was he carrying a bowl of food and water with him? (…which would probably be TWO bowls, but that’s neither here nor there.) Did you mean YOU had the bowl (singular) of food and water? I’m so confused.
(photo credit: Rodin’s Thinker, National Gallery of Art, exhibiting how I’m feeling at this moment.)
“Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter?”
I understand the question, really, I do, but I don’t understand how over thirty people responded to the original post with phone numbers and names of shelters, and not one person noticed that the writer had STOLEN her neighbor’s dog. The wish to remain anonymous now makes more sense.
I’ll mention the obvious here. This was posted on a forum, using the Internet, which has “The Google” as my elderly friend calls it. Just look up a number.
There should be a dash between high and kill as this two-word adjective (see what I did there?) is describing the shelter.
“I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.”
Finally, a sentence written correctly, but after the exaggeration and the fact that you’ve stolen your neighbor’s dog, I’m not inclined to trust your judgment. I may want to imagine you sitting next to a malnourished Rottweiler, but what I envision is a busybody old lady with a dirty poodle on her lap.