CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- David Miller of Canaan Valley sent me an article titled "The Alot is Better Than You at Everything" from the blog Hyperbole and a Half. The blog, created by Allie Brosch, has some of the funniest drawings and text I've encountered in ages, and it quickly became one of my favorite sites ever.
The particular post Miller sent was about a subject near and dear to my heart: grammar peeves.
"As a grammatically conscientious person who frequents Internet forums and YouTube," writes Brosch, "I have found it necessary to develop a few coping mechanisms."
For instance, when someone uses u instead of you, Brosch imagines the person having only one finger on each hand, since that makes leaving out unnecessary letters seem reasonable. And when she encounters someone using "alot," where they've combined the two words into one, she visualizes a creature she invented to help deal with her "compulsive need to correct other people's grammar."
By her own description, her Alot looks like a cross between a bear, a yak and a pug. A visit to Broche's blog at hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com is needed to fully appreciate the brilliance behind her creation, but I'll try to describe what she has done.
Under the caption "I care about this alot" is a drawing of the oddly cute Alot creature getting hugged. Under the caption "I like this alot more" is a drawing of a smiling Alot being petted by a person while another Alot looks dejected.
Nearly as amusing as her drawings are some of the comments generated by the post, most written by others who are equally aggravated by frequently misspelled words and other grammatical missteps.
It seems impossible to avoid occasionally pinching the nerve of one of the many squad members of the grammar police. My first encounter happened after my first column was published. In it, I'd made the mistake of complaining about stop lights. A reader quickly alerted me to my mistake, saying the devices shouldn't be called stop lights, since they don't only stop traffic, but also tell it to go. They're traffic lights. A mistake I've not made again.
Generally, if I'm in a hurry and uncertain about a grammatical rule and suspect what I've written might not be right, I'll simply recast the sentence. But more often than not, it seems the recasting will include a completely different grammatical rule to watch out for. (I mean, for which to watch out.)