National Grammar Day: March 4

paris grammar.jpg

Today is National Grammar Day chosen because it is March 4. As Grammar Girl explains, “It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same.”

People don’t seem to like grammar.  When I’m in a class and announce we’re going to talk about grammar, I get the same reaction I’d get if I said we’re going to eat slithery, slimy raw fish. No one wants to. Think about it. It probably doesn’t help that our stereotypical grammarian is a pinched, prim, prudish, school-teacher type.

Perhaps grammar just needs some glitz, glamour, and sparkle, and who better to offer this than celebrities? Let’s add voltage to the discussion of grammar for National Grammar Day and examine some of the grammar mistakes of the rich and famous. See if you can find the errors in these three examples?


Ø  Brittany Spears made this comment during an interview with Matt Lauer.

                 “Neither the tabloids nor motherhood have taken their toll on my good  


Neither and nor can be troublesome when it comes to agreement. If the subject is made up of both singular and plural words connected by neither…nor, the verb agrees with the nearer part of the subject. Brittany could rephrase this and say, “Neither motherhood nor the tabloids have taken their toll on my good spirits.”

Ø  Which songs use the words lie and lay correctly?

Eric Clapton, “Lay Down Sally”

Bob Dylan, “Lay Lady Lay”

Bonnie Raitt singing, “Lay down with me, tell me no lies”

Snow Patrol singing, “Lie with me and just forget the world”


The problem with these two verbs is even though they have different meanings they look so much alike. The best way to select the correct one is the substitution method. Use Lay (principal parts: lay, laid, laid, laying) to mean “to put” or “to place.” Use lie (principle parts: lie, lay, lain, lying) to mean “to rest, recline, or stay.”  Snow Patrol is correct; the other three are not.

Ø  What’s wrong with  Jessica Simpson’s lyrics–grammatically speaking?

Between you and I,

And the starlight of the sky,

Nothin’ and no one would ever know…


Nothin’  may get a “pass” because of poetic license, but “between you and I” is just wrong.  “I,” “you,” and “me” are all pronouns, and as such they stand in for nouns. Pronouns may stand in for the subject, in which case they are in the subjective case, or they may stand in for the object, in which case they are in the objective case. When a pronoun follows a preposition, it is always in the objective case. “Between,” is  a preposition, so “between you and me” is always correct even if it is at the beginning of a sentence.


I’m sure there are a lot more examples of celebrities committing heinous grammar crimes. Heck, some might even be wearing them: check out Paris’s shirt. Post your celebrity grammar errors. I’ve got to believe there are a lot of them!



Celebrity Grammar website

Grammar Girl website

Romantic Lyrics website


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