The 12 Days of Christmas—for word nerds and grammar geeks

A writer recast the popular holiday song, cutting the turtle doves and lords o’leaping for non-split infinitives and Oxford commas.

It’s December, and that magical time of year is upon us, full of wonder, merriment—and the added stress of more deadlines on your to-do list. Instead of working myself into a tizzy planning my holiday meal menus, decorating the house, and shopping for gifts, this self-proclaimed word nerd and grammar geek is getting into the holiday spirit by proposing a change to a beloved Christmas carol. I’m sure “The 12 Days of Crispness” will be a jolly old hit. Lately it seems grammar gaffes, typos, and misunderstood (and misused) words have skyrocketed. There are blunders published in respected media outlets, mistakes written by business associates, and errors spoken by friends. Starting today, let’s challenge ourselves to keep our language “CRISP”—an acronym we developed at Stern + Associates to ensure our writing remains Concise/Compelling, Researched, Informative, Smart and Punctuated/Proofread. So, hum along with me now: On the first day of crispness, my colleague gave to me … the proper use of “I” versus “me.” On the second day of crispness, my colleague gave to me … two subject/verb agreements, and the proper use of “I” versus “me.” On the third day of crispness, my colleague gave to me … three grammar rules, two subject/verb agreements, and the proper use of “I” versus “me.” … Four participles that don’t dangle. … Five style books! … Six unneeded words deleted … Seven corrected typos … Eight proofread pages … Nine Oxford commas … Ten unsplit infinitives … Eleven proper hyphens … Twelve apostrophes that possess Make a resolution to “keep it CRISP” throughout the New Year. Happy holidays! A version of this story first appeared on the Stern + Associates blog.

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