How to make me hate committees

By Mir
April 29, 2006

1) Pressure me into joining, schedule far too many meetings, saddle me with responsibilities better suited to someone else.

2) Ask me to proofread the copy, then while I’m out of town, decide amongst yourselves that my “recommended changes” are unnecessary.

3) Argue with me about my “recommendations.” News flash: I do this for a living, and YES, punctuation really DOES go inside the quotation marks–every time. It’s not a “recommendation” so much as “correct English usage which will prevent us from looking like morons.” (Did you catch the period inside the quotation marks, there?)

4) Wonder why I want to resign.


  1. Theresa

    Ew. Committees. Too much like a PTO for me. Good luck!

  2. Genuine

    yeah but you’s spelt puntwation wrung.

  3. Mamacita

    Hooray, another Grammar Goddess!

    (And of course you already know that there IS an exception for that ‘end punctuation inside the quotation marks’ rule.’) I put it on my final exam, even.) (Yes, I am that mean to my students.)

    Do you really think it’s true that “There are no exceptions to this rule”?

    Dontcha just love messing with grammar?

  4. Jay Allen

    Hey, at least they didn’t ask if you had received the memo about including the cover sheet.

  5. Carla Hinkle

    Seriously. Bad punctuation is one of the banes of my existence. Especially punctuation going INSIDE quotation marks.

    I am a lawyer and edit briefs all day and it is ASTOUNDING how many people, who are also lawyers and write for a living, do this wrong.

  6. carson

    I do this wrong for casual writing (like my blog) when it interferes with my meaning. . .can’t think of an example right off, but at least I know I’m doing it wrong.

    My peeve is the people who don’t know you have to have a complete sentence before a colon and so try to get away with: idiocy, stupidity, and putting on airs.

  7. Jules

    I have to admit that I wasn’t clear on the rule until I read #3. I’m sure I have messed that up many times.

  8. s@bd

    I may have screwed with that particular grammar rule a few times in my life.

    However, I do NOT write or edit or anything else even remotely literary for a living. And my degree is in SINGING so I do not feel guilty.

    Also, now that I know the rule, I will never forget it – just watch!

  9. Chookooloonks

    Dude, if you tell me that they used “it’s” for “its” in addition to the quotation thing, I say not only quit, but send them an invoice for your time.

  10. Cele

    I so don’t do committees any more. But then I am decades older than you. And that is one of the little pet peeves of mine too.

    The first manuscript I ever critiqued as a feature article by a woman from India. I corrected all her punctuation. I was the idiot I didn’t know we do it backwards from EVERYONE else in the world.

    As of you American committee I’m with Chooks, invoice your time and quit. While you won’t expect them to pay because you did agree to be on the committee (even under duress) maybe it will make them see you more seriously. Of course it could just give them something more to talk about.

  11. Brenda

    I’ve worked in law firms for years, and I’m with Carla on this. Obviously, grammar is not taught in law school; you are supposed to have learned the rules of grammar by the time you’re in junior high.

    I’ve had to review documents from solo practitioners and documents from countries around the world. We do the punctuation inside the quotations differently from the Brits, and, since most countries study English from the Brits, that’s how they punctuate.

    Anytime I have a serious grammar, punctuation, etc. question, I always reference the Chicago Manual of Style.

    The one that sends grating chills down my spine is using “I” instead of “me.” Yes, you and me is often the correct form. Know it, use it, live it.

  12. the Mater

    Oh Mir I can so empathize with you! I’m assuming that you have Lynn Truss’s hilarious “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” on the shelf next to your Chicago Manual of Style.

    And, YES – the misuse of the possessive “its” is one of my pet peeves too! I want to throttle copywriters who don’t catch that error. It’s (correctly used) one of the most egregious errors in our daily papers and ads – eek!!!

    Gosh, this was a refreshing rant – thanks for your essay :>)

  13. Mama C-ta

    Oh thank you for #3! Now I know for a fact I’m an idiot and have been doing it wrong all this time. Before I just suspected I was an idiot. :)

  14. jess

    Yes, “you and I” instead of “you and me” definitely bugs me; however, I definitely HATE when people misuse “myself.”

    As in, “Please bring the extra copies to Ms. Supervisor or myself when you are done passing them out” or “Ms. Supervisor and myself went to the meeting with Mr. Bigshot himself yesterday.” That is usually misused by people who are trying to sound more intelligent than they obviously are. Ugh.

  15. buffi

    Was this a church committee? Did you know that most Southern Baptist churches have a “Committee on Committees”? (was that right Mamacita?) Cracks me up every time. Also, they have atrocious grammar!

  16. Bob

    now I won’t be able to post comments here anymore as I don’t know punctuation worth a damn. I am amazed at your kindness at overlooking this inability on my part for so long.

  17. Shiz

    My old boss used to “edit” my stuff back into the stone age. She once sent an email where she said that such and such “should take president” over something else.


    I like punctuation inside quote marks, but Brits, I think, are opposite. And Canada seems to vary. PICK A WAY!

    I once read The Deep End of the Ocean (BAD BOOK!) because I needed a fluff read. EVERY quote-mark is wrong in that book, and much of the rest of it. Infuriating. I wanted to burn it.

    And Oprah had the NERVE to reccommend it? It sucked arse.

  18. Linda

    First of all I love your blog. Secondly, I really believe committees are started by people who love to argue for a living and want to get other people into with them.

  19. H.A. Page

    Well, some committees can be constructive, positive and fun and make everyone feel good about what they are contributing. On the otherhand, what a bummer to think you might get to heaven and see a big committee at the gate.

    Just takes one person to spit on the cake to ruin the pieces for everyone, huh.
    Flashing by Fingertip…Cheers!

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