Surviving Teenagers: Does Grammar Matter?

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

Surviving Teenagers: Does grammar matter?

There's been a lot of talk about grammar recently. A new grammar, punctuation and spelling test is has been introduced for children at the end of Key Stage 2 (year 6).

Earlier, there was a lot of publicity for the very first Bad Grammar Awards which criticised leading academics for writing a letter full of mistakes to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove.

My family is used to me getting upset about grammar and punctuation.

"Look!" I say, stopping dead in our local high street. My son follows my shaking finger. "What?" he says, frantically scanning the horizon for a car crash or a robbery or someone saving a baby from a burning building.

Outside the vegetable shop is a sign for New Potato's.

I try to keep a lid on all this. It's not very relaxing for everyone else to see me flinching at notices or shouting at the TV. I must be the only person in the world who got worked up over Snow Patrol's 'If I just lay here.'

And I do understand that some people think worrying about grammar and spelling is a bit old-fashioned. Teenagers are busy texting without a comma in sight. And we've got a whole online world awash with creative English.

Sometimes my daughter, to be kind, tries to reassure me that she cares about complicated sentences. She throws me the odd long word. This is particularly thoughtful as she's got A levels coming up in the next few weeks and has got quite enough to think about as it is.

"I should be revising," she says, "but I'm not."

"Aren't you?"

"You could say I'm procrastinating."

I'm impressed.

"Although, strictly speaking," she says, "to procrastinate originally meant to put something off until tomorrow..."

I look at her with admiration.

"...and I don't want to do it tomorrow, either."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

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