Are You A Prescriptive or Descriptive Grammarian?

Are you a prescriptive or descriptive grammarian and how do you know?

In the language game there are two teams: the descriptive grammarian and the prescriptive grammarian. How do you know which side of the field you play on? The answer is simple, think about the way in which you read, write and speak. You inevitably fall on either side.

Edward Finegan of the University of Southern California describes the difference between the components, “Descriptive grammarians ask the question, “What is English (or another language) like – what are its forms and how do they function in various situations?” By contrast, prescriptive grammarians ask “What should English be like – what forms should people use and what functions should they serve?”

As an English Literature student I was drilled with the prescriptive rules of grammar. My professors were boot camp instructors who blew the whistle on tense, spelling, run-on sentences, etc. Most people experienced grammar-passionate teachers in high school as well; felt the whip of their red pen slaying the student’s papers. These professors are prescriptive grammarians. Websters dictionary defines the word “prescriptive” in regards to language as, “Providing rules and opinions that tell people how language should be used.”. Prescriptive grammarians like to follow the rules of grammar without fluctuation.

Even though I was taught to be a prescriptive grammarian I always fell into the descriptive category. Websters describes “descriptive” in regards to language as, “Providing facts about how a language is actually used rather than rules that tell people how it should be used.” I always felt that if my message was conveyed to my audience then I was successful in my use of language and that is all that matters. After years of writing I finally understand now that you have to adopt both styles of prescriptive and descriptive grammar. You can’t focus so much on proper language that your writing is dry and without voice, but on the flip-side you can’t ignore the rules of grammar either, otherwise your argument isn’t clear.

Even though we can adapt our language to reach all readers (both teams) we will inherently always associate with one side more naturally than the other. Understanding which team you are on (the prescriptive or descriptive) will help you understand your reading, writing, and talking style. You will understand perhaps why you prefer classics such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin vs. The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris. Wouldn’t you like to tell people, “I am a prescriptive grammarian, I am NOT anal.” or “I am a descriptive grammarian, rules of language are less important than saying what I need to say in the moment.”? I don’t know about you, but I like to have a logical explanation for what makes me tick.
Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “Yes.” you are probably Team Prescriptive.

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “Yes.” you are probably Team Prescriptive.

  • Do you often find yourself gritting your teeth when reading social media posts with incorrect grammar?
  • When words are spelled incorrectly, or someone throws out a double negative for example, “I don’t have none” does it hurt? Does it physically hurt?
  • If someone corrects your grammar do you instantly get defensive and rush to Google to identify who is correct?
  • Do chatty blogs with run-on sentences get about 10 seconds of your attention?
  • Do people ask you to edit documents for them (and you get a power high wielding that red pen)?
  • When you are arguing in comment threads and someone uses the wrong “there” do you find yourself smiling a predatory grin because you are about to smash them with your grammar hammer?

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “Yes.” you are probably Team Descriptive.

  • Do you send texts with words you aren’t sure are spelled correctly and think to yourself, “Oh well they will get my meaning I’m too busy to correct it right now.”?
  • Do you enjoy the variation of language through dialect?
  • When you are writing your resume or other important documents, do you rely heavily on another person to edit it for you?
  • Are people amazed at how quickly you can write?
  • Do you get annoyed when people correct your grammar?
  • Do you want to gorilla-womp the people in comment threads who think that they won an argument because they corrected someone’s grammar?

While each team makes valid points and compromise is sometimes essential, naturally you will identify either Team Descriptive or Team Prescriptive.


Which team do you play for?

Cover Image Found Here.

Washington Gray Days

I live in the beautiful state of perpetual gray (Washington). I love my home state; I don’t mind the gray months (November-March). I love walks in the rain and reading a book while it gently mists outside. I appreciate the peek-a-boo blue skies. The smell of damp spring is heady and potent this time of year. A composition of hyacinth, tulips, dirt, pine, and rain.

How does spring feel where you live?

Photo credit: Miles McKee Photography


The Joining of Soldier & Writer

The Joining of Soldier & Writer

We’ll bungle their plans and crumble their wall.

I’ll wear a coat of deception;

you wear your ink-smeared shawl.

Come to me through the spruce trees,

you’ll know the place where water falls.

We’ll meet as soldier to writer;

together we will answer the epochal call.


Photo Credit Courtesy of Miles McKee Photography

Picture Wall

This is a tutorial on how to make a picture wall based off of my expertise.


Step 1: Buy frames from craft store. (I buy all of the discount frames and just go with what I get.) Most of the time the frames just work together and I like more of an eclectic look anyway. Buy other design pieces that you can hang on the wall. I like to to go with rustic and metal frames so I like objects that complement this look. For example: horse shoes, old keys, barbed wire. You can make almost anything “go” on your picture wall, just stick to similar design elements.

Step 2: Print pictures in accordance to frame sizing. Make sure you pick pictures that are taken with a quality camera. Camera phone pictures are awesome for Facebook and Instagram, but when those suckers are blown up you don’t want to see grainy photos on your wall. EVERY FLAW WILL BE EMPHASIZED.

Step 3: Then comes hanging the pictures. Ask husband to do this.

Step 4: Ask him again.

Step 5: Accept the fact that he is not going to do it anytime soon and if you want all of the pictures sitting in their frames collecting dust off of your floor then you are going to do it yourself. They call this step “acceptance”.

In our house DIY stands for do it yourself if you can’t get the hubs to do it for you.


Today was one of those days that my husband Miles had other things to do in the garage (tinker and pound stuff). So I decided to tackle the hanging portion myself.

Step 6: The main tools that I use are a pencil, hammer, and nails. Since I can feel my husband’s judgey eyes when I collect my tools I grab the tape measure and level to save face (even though I probably won’t use them). To be fair, when my husband met me I was hanging everything with thumb tacks so I don’t have the best reputation for “safe” hanging.


Step 7: I don’t make any plans on how all the pictures are going to go on the wall. I just start on one end and work my way down the wall. Technical right? I eyeball the shit out of each picture and make a mark with my pencil for where the nail will go and then I drive the nail home.

Step 8: Repeat step 7 until all of your pictures are on the wall.

Step 9: Drink a beer while my husband corrects every little thing that bugs him about my winging it technique. Hey, you got to have balance in marriage (and apparently your picture wall).

Do all of these steps and you should have a pretty decent place to hang your pics.





Another picture wall that my husband and I did together:





The Stupid Girl

Disclaimer to all readers: Please don’t read this article as me casting my emotional rod into the internet ocean for compliments. This narcissistic issue starts and ends with me.

“I am stupid.” I say this to myself often throughout the day. I whisper it to myself in the bathroom at work after I ask an obvious question to my co-workers. Every day when I leave the office, I think to myself, “I am the weakest link on my team.” Hell, I would vote myself off in most team situations. I inhale the word idiot and exhale in a rush of anxiety when someone asks me for directions within the town I reside. How do I explain that I can’t remember street names that I drive on daily? When people talk about North, South, East, and West they may as well be speaking a foreign language. My family has had to deal with more directional hysterics from me than anyone should have to in a lifetime. I thank God daily for their patience.

I think my stupidity complex started in elementary school when my class began learning multiplication. My teacher created a pyramid to chart the basic 0-12 multiplication table. Well let me tell you I was no Pharaoh of THAT pyramid. My peers started to progress, but I always stayed at the bottom. I think I got through the 2’s (2×2 =4, 2×3=6, etc.) and just stopped. For months I sat in shame at the bottom of that pyramid while I watched other children receive treats for their success. It was not the rewards that I coveted, my parents were generous people, I didn’t want for much growing up. I wanted to be equal with my peers, but I was always behind.

I hated sitting in class where the whispered words “You’re stupid.” echoed throughout my mind and bounced around the walls. School was my mirror, where I had to face the part of myself I desperately loathed. In high school I graduated with a 2.0 GPA, a courtesy from teachers who desperately wanted to see me succeed. Even living through the trauma of K-12, I decided to attend community college. The decision was due to my best friend applying. I thought, “I guess college is the thing to do”.

After my first quarter at community college which felt like a flash back to the nightmare of K-12 (Pre-reqs are the worst!) I began to look forward to class. I found a passion for learning aside from the anxiety of everyone finding out just how stupid I really was. I devoured the content of each class. I knew that my work was weak so I made up for it in participation. I volunteered my ass off. If the teacher asked a question, I was the first to answer. Extra credit, I was all over it. My GPA went from a 2.0 in high school to a 3.7 upon graduation from Western Washington University.

My time at WWU was a chaotic, wonderful, crazy time in my life. I was working two jobs and completely immersed in my English literature degree. I was finding my way and learning who the “adult Rachel” was. I had my setbacks as well though. For example, I remember being in a study group for a 400 level English class. I was with two very intelligent classmates (the Sheldon and Leonard of the English world) and I told them I felt bad because I wasn’t helping much with the assignment, they were just flat out faster than me. But in good humor they joked that I provided the tea and the study space at my apartment. I cried that night, all of my old anxieties and worries rushing back at me. The echo of “I’m stupid, I’m stupid, I’m stupid” was an earthquake inside my dark bedroom.  The next morning the emotional disaster that was my ego followed me onto the bus. I went to class with a residual “Stupid“.

Time reveals the magic of our past, hidden behind the black curtain of the present.

All of my life I had teachers and parents who believed in me. They were showing me their faith in a variety of ways. My 3rd grade teacher had me read one of my stories out loud to three other classes. My math teacher Mr. Sessions gave me extra assignments so I could graduate from high school. Upon graduation day he gave me a dream catcher that he made himself. My Dad paid for my first two years of college out-of-pocket, with only a 2.0 GPA from high school backing up my scholarly reputation. My Mom and step father let me live at home for four years after high school. They spent hours every week helping me with homework. None of those people would have gone to such effort if they did not see any potential in me. I will never forget how I almost fell to the floor when one of my classmates introduced me to his reading group as one of the most insightful, intelligent people in our class. That compliment was a cast for my broken confidence that was beaten down by yours truly.

I can look back now and appreciate my academic achievements; I can attribute graduating to not floating by on participation and extra credit. I looked like an idiot (often) and I survived. I hope sometime in the future I will look at this time in my life and realize that: I was good at my job. My novel was decent. I should listen to my husband when he patiently tells me that I am, in fact, an intelligent woman. Maybe one day I will realize that I am not the only driver in a constant state of lost. Tomorrow I will look in the mirror and tell myself, “You are not the stupid girl.”

Scents and Scentsibility

Three books at once; I am quite the promiscuous reader.

I decided to splurge and get a facial for my birthday in August. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the spa was the amazing smell that permeated throughout every room.There is something about natural oils that can invigorate and soothe you at the same time.

On the other hand, have you ever walked into someone’s home and it’s like walking into a Bath and Body Works (guilty)? Where you smack into a wall of perfume and smoke. While it smells amazing it can give you a headache or make you feel nauseous depending on the scent. Don’t get me wrong, I love my citrus summer, and fall pumpkin spice candles as much as the next girl, but when I am trying to read and relax I want the spa experience.

I started researching the benefits of essential oils and found some really interesting information on Web MD: Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes. “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods. says ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York… In fact, Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants.” – Web MD

Negative ions are abundant in nature. For example, a water fall produces 50,000 Ions/cc, the country 700-1,500 Ions/cc, and mountain/seashore 5,000 ions/cc. While an air condition room has fewer negative ions 0-25 ions/cc (doTERRA manual). The negative ions upon reaching our blood stream increases our serotonin and help immensely with our mood.

I searched Amazon and read many blogs for the best product to dispense natural oils and I found  a few different options:

  • Tea lite diffusers (burn the oil)
  • Plug in diffusers
  • Fan diffuser
  • Nebulizer
  • Ultrasonic mist diffuser

I decided on a ultrasonic mist diffuser: doTERRA the Aroma Lite Diffuser, because it adequately dispenses the oil and there is no smoke to inhale. I chose two oils from doTERRA: Purify (lemon, lime, pine, citronella, melaleuca, cilantro) and Citrus Bliss (Wild Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Grapefruit Peel, Mandarin Peel, Bergamot Peel, Tangerine Peel, Clementine Peel essential oils and Vanilla Bean Absolute.)

.DSC_0292I plug in my diffuser every evening when I get home from work. I use the 8 hour setting (there is also a four hour setting) so that it runs for a few hours before we settle in at night. The diffuser is very quiet (and trust me I am a light, finicky sleeper) so we let it run while we sleep. The soft purple glow is very soothing, but I turn the light off because I can’t sleep with any light. Both scents are lovely, but the Purify has a much stronger smell than the Citrus Bliss and I tend to gravitate towards it for that reason. Follow the essential oil use chart to choose which oils work best for you.

I love to have the diffuser on while I am reading and writing. I am prone to anxiety and sometimes this hinders my ability to write. The smell helps me to relax and quiets my mind from the chaos that typically ensues after work. I don’t think this diffuser will be my “end all” for my anxiety, but if it helps in the slightest (and I truly believe it has) then it is worth every penny.

Here are some more links about the health benefits of essential oils. I chose to write mostly about the positive effect it has on my mood because that is the main benefit I have received.

9 Essential Oils with Huge Health Benefits

Benefits of Essential Oils: 10 Natural Ways to Heal Yourself

Literation is REALLY A Word

Literation is defined by Merriam-Webster as “The representation of sound or words by letters.” I know, I didn’t think it was a real word either until I looked it up. When I tell my friends the name of my blog they give me a funny look and inevitably ask, “Is literation an actual word? Do you mean alliteration?” Even as I type, spell-check is accusing me with its read squiggly line of making up the work literation, but I swear it’s real. Hopefully I didn’t slit my blog’s throat before it took its first breath by giving it an impossibly complicated name.

Final argument: Scrabble recognizes it as a 10-point word.