The English language never runs out of “tricks”. That latter word sums up all the difficult to comprehend rules to common mistakes I’ve learned about the language since schooling days. A large number of them comes from the ones I’m yet to learn. I never stopped “self studying” the technicalities behind the tricks. I’m travel blogger. I write. I’m a writer one way or the other; therefore, I’m expected to be mindful of grammar. Having said that, my proficiency of the language, is still a work in progress. It’ll be the case as long as I’m writing, I believe.
Writing about each of the grammar pet peeves here is a means of retaining the knowledge more than anything else. It’s really been a very effective way to keep the learning intact so please bear with me. After all, the grammar posts still hold a high percentage of the blog’s traffic nearly every day. It just dawned on me that I’ve not written any article about grammar for more than a year now. The last article I wrote was “The New Kind of Technocracy To Be Learned“. It’s about time to add something to the Grammar Pet Peeves Series.
A big thanks to a concerned citizen who’ve recently called my attention regarding an email I sent him; it “osculated” my muse. The email has metric symbols — such as “min” for minutes, “kg” for kilograms, and “km” for kilometer — in it. These were his concerns. He assertively pointed out that each of the symbols I used should have “s” — followed by a period — at their respective ends as in, mins., kgs., and kms. because they were used in plural sense.
What went really wrong there? He simply thought metric symbols are similar to regular plural nouns, which means you can add “s” to form their plurals. They are different unless the respective units (i.e., minutes, kilograms, and kilometers) of those symbols are the ones being used.
Now, to my dear fellas who are not yet familiar with the rules surrounding said issue, make a note of this: In the International System of Units (SI), the units don’t have “abbreviations” but symbols such as “g” for gram; “k” for kilo; kW (not KW) for kilowatt; and W for watt. These unit symbols don’t follow the grammatical rules for abbreviations because they follow the mathematical rules for symbols instead. Hence, km, kg, or min will stay as it is — and is never followed by a period. The exception to the latter is when any of the given examples falls at the end of a sentence.
Another important rule to remember is that the (metric) symbols are separated from the numerical quantity they follow by a space. Therefore, 7 kilograms should be written as 7 kg — not 7kg.
When someone directly points out your mistake, you get offended. This is generally true. In my case, I rarely get offended when it’s about grammar. I would feel sorry though for the person who’s doing that without doing any homework. And, I’m most grateful if someone does that — provided it’s accompanied with an explanation or citation.
I started doing “homework” when I was directly corrected by a fellow blogger, Sir R. Luis Flores of the Liquid Druid’s travel blog, in 2012. It was about the word “infamous”, which I used to mean “not famous”. If you’re interested to know the details, check the comments section of my post, “Rediscovering One of the Country’s Historical Treasures”. I was also refrained from using “big words” by a random reader in 2014 (details are here: “Mount Maculot’s Irony“). According to him, my English is mediocre. His comment made me watchful of my diction. What topped these “correcting incidents” was my verbal tussle with Sir Paeng del Rosario, Definitely Filipino Blog‘s regular critic, in my blog post titled “Masteral and Some Very Common Filipino Concoctions” in 2015. He brutally butchered my grammar. In the end, I thanked all of them. I took all of their constructive criticisms to heart, and I still cringe each time I remember those mistakes. The best thing that came out of these experiences: I always see to it that almost every word, phrase, or idiomatic expression I use is well-researched.
On a lighter note, there was a colleague who sent me a thank you note a few months back. It was about, of course, expressing his gratitude to me for consistently using the common idioms such as “My apologies.“, “Congratulations!“, and “I have no plans.” in my emails and social media posts. He admitted that he had always used “My apology.” as an expression for acknowledging his mistakes; “Congratulation!” for saying that he’s happy about somebody else’s good luck or success; and “I have no plan.” for implying that he doesn’t have a plan to do something or to go somewhere. He also acknowledged that the aforementioned expressions I’ve been using are grammatically correct regardless of number and that he wouldn’t have doubted the correctness of the ones he used.
We, non-native speakers, all have our fair share of grammar mishaps because, in large measure, English is our second language. Be that as it may it shouldn’t be a reason for us to hesitate about writing or studying the language more. If that isn’t convincing enough, put in mind from here on out that communication is today’s most important skill. “It has become fashionable to say that our present epoch is an information age, but that’s not quite right. In truth, we live in a communication age and it’s time we start taking it seriously” (“Why Communication Is Today’s Most Important Skill“, forbes.com, 06 February 2015).
As for me, I’ll definitely write more travel stories, and I’ll not stop studying the language not only because I’m a travel blogger but because I’m a natural philomath. I fess up: I can’t excel at everything I do. I’m but limited to barely countable modalities of intelligence. I get to experience failing miserably at times no matter how hard I try. That being said, I make sure that I’m still doing something to step up in my chosen endeavors regardless of the outcome and in spite of the contrary. This is one of the best lessons I learned in the corporate world. It’s how white-collar workers roll. And, all of these sentiments disappear whenever I think of writing just an article or two amid a hectic schedule. I have been cutting back on blogging so If I did publish, like I said, one or two articles in a month, the feeling is priceless! It gives me a genuine smile thinking of facing every workweek.
How to start travel blogging (asianjournal.com)
10 tips for new travel bloggers (travelhack.com)
Lessons in Travel Blogging (twinsthattravel.com)
Why Poor Grammar and Spelling Are Bad for Your Blog (blogclarity.com)
27 Websites Every Travel Blogger Should be Reading (travelblogsuccess.com)
How blogging helped me learn English grammar: a native speaker tale (bittenbythetravelbug.com)
Top Self Editing Tips for Travel Bloggers and Travel Writers (breakintotravelwriting.com)