Though I’m a writing teacher, I am not a grammar maven, much less a member of the grammar police. When I work on student writing and must pretend to be a grammar maven I do so with reference books within reach. Hard copy dictionaries (Merriam Webster, American Heritage) usually get the job done. I also keep a few bookmarked sites open on the computer: Chicago Manual of Style Q & A, Purdue University’s Owl, Urban Dictionary, and a few others. Pain in the English is a fun and also aggravating site that I only occasionally refer to because I usually end up disappearing for long stretches of time when I go there, but it’s a useful one that often stays my fledgling maven hand because of the range of opinions weighing in on such things as “Use of ‘their’ as a genderless singular,” one of today’s topics.

The site’s mission is listed at the very top of each page: “Forum for the Gray Areas of the English Language.” Well, that’s nice. Then when one reads on one sees: “Because meaning is fundamentally indeterminate.”

Now that’s some meat to chew on. All you children’s book writers out there: How does this apply to what we do? Discuss!

MarshaQ, getting reading for summer residency.