The gal in question wrote to an animal welfare website where folks tell how they discovered a beloved pet, often found languishing in a shelter after being heartlessly dumped. Her story stood out, though. This goodhearted person wrote that the poor cat spent his initial two months “with me hiding under the bed.” What? An adult woman spent two months under her bed?
It’s a sad tell on misuse of the English language that it took me a few moments to realize that the cat hid, not the woman. Should I expect a preposition to precede the subject of a verb? Of course not. Yet that was exactly how I interpreted her opening sentence. Why did she even add the words “with me”? Where else would the animal have been, an ocean freighter?
After reading the sentence, I find myself particularly grateful for demanding school teachers. I also have a constructively perfectionist mother who instilled a strong respect for precise grammar and punctuation. I’m far from perfect, to be sure, but my problem is more along the lines of capitol versus capital and the like. All the same, I think it’s time to pick up an edition of “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” by Lynn Truss. If nothing else, the intrinsic humor and a foreword by delightful author Frank McCourt will make the informative read well worth the time and money.
Instead of worrying about perfection, however, I’d definitely rather read these types of heartwarming stories. And that goes for fiction, too, so happy writing!