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Lesson Plan

Analyzing Grammar Pet Peeves

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Analyzing Grammar Pet Peeves

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Susan Spangler

Susan Spangler

Fredonia, New York


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



This lesson is designed to help students become “rhetorically savvy” through their analysis of their own and others' grammar pet peeves. Students begin by thinking about their own grammar pet peeves. They then read a Dear Abby column, in which she lists several grammar pet peeves. Using a chart, students analyze each pet peeve and research it to determine its accuracy. By analyzing Dear Abby's “rant” about bad grammar usage, students become aware that attitudes about race, social class, moral and ethical character, and “proper” language use are intertwined and that the rant reveals those attitudes. Finally, students discuss the pet peeves as a class, gaining an understanding that issues of race, class, and audience's expectations help determine what is considered “proper” language usage.

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ReadWriteThink Notetaker: Students can use this online tool to take and organize notes about any topic.

Grammar Pet Peeves Analysis Chart: Students can use this graphic organizer to analyze their own pet peeves, as well as those from Dear Abby's article.

"Good Grammar is Sweet Music to Any Language-Lover's Ear": This Dear Abby column from April 9, 2002, provides several examples of grammar pet peeves, as well as the thinking behind them.

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Kenneth Lindblom and Patricia Dunn assert that traditional grammar instruction focuses on rules and correctness, ignoring subtleties of language usage and shifts that occur in language over time. The idea that a person's grammar usage is "correct" or "incorrect," "proper" or "improper" can "perpetuate cultural prejudices regarding class and race." Analyzing grammar "rants" and pet peeves can help students become "savvy writers" who "develop rhetorical knowledge of audience and context" and who are aware that their language use will be used to judge their abilities and intelligence in society (71).

Further Reading

Dunn, Patricia A., and Kenneth Lindblom. 2005. "Developing Savvy Writers by Analyzing Grammar Rants." Language in the Schools: Integrating Linguistic Knowledge into K-12 Teaching. Eds. Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck. Mahwah: Erlbaum, 191-207.


Lindblom, Kenneth and Patricia A. Dunn. "Analyzing Grammar Rants: An Alternative to Traditional Grammar Instruction." English Journal 95.5 (May 2006): 71-77.

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