Sunday, September 19, 2010

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 50

Photo is of my dad (middle in tie) at the grocery store he owned in Oak Cliff, Dallas, 1930's. My brother said that dad gave food to many, many people during the depression.

#50 - “When mentioning several people in a sentence with yourself, always list yourself last.”  To know if you should use “me” or “I” leave everyone else out of the sentence, and if it sounds right with “me” use “me,” otherwise use “I.”

You’ve heard me say before that mom was all about appearances. Well, she believed with ever fiber of her being that what came out of one’s mouth could make or break one. I may have been born and raised in West Texas where “done went” and “ain’t” are part of the local vernacular and have absolutely nothing to do with intelligence, but even as a small child I winced when someone said them.  I still do.

Aside from the grammatical and appearances issues, I just think that #50 is a really handy mnemonic.  And “mnemonic” is a word I adore. Mnemonic.  Mnemonic.  I love saying it, but occasions to use mnemonic don’t come up that often. I mean how do you segue from, “How’s work SueAnn?” to “Good. Working too hard.  You know how it is, but let me tell you about my favorite mnemonic.” Click on Read More Below...

 While we’re on the topic, my favorite mnemonic is ‘i’ before ‘e,’ except after ‘c,’ or when sounded as ‘a,’ as in neighbor or weigh. But fewer people know the mnemonic sentence that can help us remember the major exceptions: ‘Neither leisure foreigner seized the weird heights.’ I don’t think this one came from mom, but rather Mrs. McCarver, 5th grade.

According to my KOAT (knower of all things), Wiki, a mnemonic device is one that assists the memory. Mnemonic comes from the Greek mnemon, which means mindful. (Mnemosyne was the Greek goddess of memory and the mother of the Muses by Zeus.) Gaud what a heritage!

By the way, here’s the mnemonic to spell mnemonic? The “m” doesn’t exist. Oh, and FYI, segue (continue) and Segway (personal green transportation) are called homophones which are words that sound the same but have different meanings (not to be confused with homonyms which also sound the same and are spelled the same but have different meanings). However, segue and Segway are related as the Segway was inspired by the word segue, but they knew no one could spell segue so they spelled it Segway.

Confused yet? Me too. Let’s just dumb this down a little.

In the process of researching mom’s #50, I came across something that I could, unfortunately, really, really, really relate to, and it is any writer’s worst nightmare:
“Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb” (Brian Clark)

1. Your vs. You’re,

 2. It’s vs. Its (this one always kicks my butt),

3. There vs. Their,

4. Affect vs. Effect, and

5. My personal favorite, the Dangling Participle

Other words that I usually just steer clear of are capitol/capital, who/whom, bare/bear (another cool homophone), and any usage of present-progressive verbs.

So, mom and I are right! “When mentioning several people in a sentence with yourself, always list yourself last.”

Between this blog post and 24 hours with my three grandchildren, I’m exhausted, so adios.



  1. Loved the seque/Segway bit. My favorite word is 'queue.' Being from West Texas as well, I didn't even hear this word until I was about 50 years old but I use it as often as possible. Of course people want to hit me with a billiard ball when I say it. Speaking of 50, you're halfway. Any particular plans for writing the second half of Mom's 100?

  2. Can you see the writing on the wall (so to speak, or write) in this post? One of us (in the Wade clan) had to become am obsessed writer/English teacher. Looks as though several of us have. . . (Incomplete sentence here).

    And, IMHO (you know that's a [n] acronym, right?), obsession is the most important quality in a writer. I think it's more important than talent. After all, we writers must be willing to dedicate hours and hours to tweaking sentences, paragraphs and essays. It's really (Did you know, it's bad form to use an adverb to separate the subject from the verb?) about re-writing.

    And, BTW, Sue (you know that's an acronym for by the way, right?), you're pretty obsessed (as a writer) in this post.

    The worst thing about being a writer is that the very most important (oh dear, now I've used two adverbs in a row, which is very very bad form) quality (obsession, that is) a writer can have, is also the the one that will kill him/her (now, writers use the term "hir"). If you're obsessed by language and revision, you'll eventually lose (not loose) your ever-lovin' (the apostrophe symbolizes the missing "g" in loving) mind because language and the grammar that rules it, change all the time. In fact, I probably should have used another comma in the previous sentence, but comma usage has changed again and I'm not sure if I need one.

    I swear, each semester, I have to memorize (using a good mnemonic) new grammar rules. Perhaps, this is what should be called Shakespeare's Revenge. Or, am I just protesting too much?

    Oh, whatever....(that's a technical term, too).

    The good news? If you love language, you'll probably become a pretty doggone good (another example of using too many adverbs) writer.


  3. Thank you for your interesting,humorous and clever comments. I love, love, love your comments!!

    As far as the big "50" halfway point of mom's 100 things, I'm just going to enjoy the rest of the journey. Can't believe I've plowed through the first 50 and can't believe I'm only half way there.


  4. One of my favorite memos from an accountant:

    "Please bare with me..."

    Another that a sales rep sent out to attorneys:

    "professional manor"

    Spell check is not always as wonderful as it might seem.

    The its and it's mistake drives me NUTS and I see it all the time in ads.

  5. One of the most fantastic family pics. Mom had not seen or did not remember this one.

    Is Daddy Wade smoking a cig and a pipe at the same time?

    Is Daddy Wade mocking a future movie poster of The Untouchables?

    Was Daddy Wade funny but not like Joe Pesci in
    Good fellas?

    In case you don't know who i am, i'm the one who played Frank Zappa music so loud one Sunday morning that Mommy Wade's church service could hear.

    She never made a big deal about it. That is what is really interesting.

  6. I love this photo as well, and am not sure how it is that I have it.
    No, dad isn't smoking a pipe. Just a cigarette. That's a blemish on the photo.
    Of course I was 12 when dad died, so I'm not entirely sure I would know if dad was funny, but a vague memory of sitting in his office and the guys there laughing at what dad was saying makes me think that he was.