Grammar Lesson: The Backstory

grammar-lessonThe alarm bells went off in the fall of 2011. I was jarred by the realization that we work for an organization whose name is made of two words that end in the letter S. Worse, one is singular and one is plural. Emmaus Ministries. Oh. My. Gosh.* How could we have survived so long without providing a lesson on forming possessives in each of those cases?** Why was this not in our volunteer training curriculum?!? I nearly choked with panic.

At the next weekly staff meeting, I strode to the whiteboard and explained how to form possessives. I started with some “regular” possessives, then moved on to the possessives of ordinary words that end in S. Finally, I brought in the “real world application”: How to Form the Possessive of Emmaus—then, gently, tenderly, but tenaciously, of Emmaus Ministries. I instructed, I corrected, I cajoled—oh, yes—but even more, I inspired. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I went back to my seat, spent but victorious, the cheers of my appreciative coworkers ringing in my ears.

I’ve been doing a (loosely themed) grammar lesson at almost every staff meeting since.

Stay tuned.

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*This may be the first time I have used that particular technique. Jury’s out.

**If you have already dozed off with visions of your high school language arts teacher droning on about the subjunctive, this post ain’t for you. (That’s right; I used ain’t. Come get me. I have my Webster’s*** by my side.)

***Only because I can’t afford a complete OED.

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