“Because of many reasons, there are few people which are able to fully understand the rules of grammar, most weren’t taught properly, and grammar and it’s laws aren’t something their going to look into.”

Anyone who can spot the 10 errors in the preceding grammatical train wreck of a sentence is ahead in a game most people – even those at the academic level – are losing. Which game, you ask? The grammar game.

Please withhold groans of disgust and contemplate the following: Repeatedly, upper-division English professors and TAs at UCSB spend a ridiculous amount of class time explaining intricacies of grammar that students should have learned in elementary and high school.

This is not the fault of the instructors. However, when they address the class after they have graded first papers with a little story of Mr. Active Verb and his cowardly friend Mr. Passive Verb, a subtle tone of dejection and defeat rings in their voices. It’s like a mechanical engineering professor restructuring his syllabus after the first midterm for a quick run-through of those tricky multiplication tables.

If a student is in a major in which the written word is the instrument through which he or she expresses an understanding of the subject matter, a lousy sense of grammar is inexcusable.

A common myth is that grammar merely dictates what some guy thought sounded good hundreds of years ago. This guy has long since died, but his ghost lingers on and haunts the language with antiquated rules that we shouldn’t follow anymore.

To some extent, this is true. The notion that English sentences should not end with prepositions is commonly credited to John Dryden, a 17th century writer who said the very phonetic formation of the word “preposition” restricted them to the position immediately before a noun. Unfortunately, the institution of such a rule results in some abominably awkward sentence constructions, such as one Winston Churchill may have said in response to the very subject of prepositions: “This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

Whether Churchill ever said it is irrelevant; the quote illustrates the good intention underlying all grammar. Grammar allows us to arrange our words in a manner that clearly and succinctly expresses our thoughts. The preposition rule turns potentially good sentences into clunkers. Modern writers often ignore it without a raising the ire of the grammar police.

The difference between active and passive voice is one that astonishingly eludes even the most eager writers. “Susie was assassinated by the girl scouts” is a poorly worded sentence written in the passive voice, but rearranging it to “The girl scouts assassinated Susie,” gives the same information in a more compact shell. The sentence simultaneously becomes shorter and better.

Indeed, grammar is everybody’s friend.

Closet grammar dunces can still rekindle their passion for it, too. Former teachers who somehow overlooked these students’ shaky interpretations of comma placement would be happy to go over the basics with those who arrive during office hours and flatly state that they are grammatically clueless.

Their TAs would be thankful when the next paper was due, they would be thankful when the got the graded paper back and – most importantly – I would be happy if I never had to meet Mr. Active Verb and Mr. Passive Verb again.

Drew Mackie is the Daily Nexus county news co-editor. He may not play the grammar Nazi in public, but what he does behind his closed bedroom door is none of your business.