September 28, 2022


New Hope, Pennsylvania — What would you think if you were out walking, shopping or doing some other gerund, and out of nowhere a woman on the street says to you — “This is my grammar table.”

You might be thinking, who is this crazy lady? Who sees grammar as so imperative that they set up a table just to talk about it?

“Because I love grammar so much,” Ellen Jovin told CBS News. “It’s the anchor — like right now we’re using words. That wouldn’t even happen. We’d just look at each other.”

Like me first reported in 2019, Jovin runs a company that trains people in business communications. But her real passion is linguistics. So to share her knowledge – and have fun – Jovin set up her grammar table in New York, where she lives.

It went so well, it took over the collective noun that is America.

“It’s been so much fun taking it on the road across the country,” he said.

Jovin even wrote a book about the experience called “Rebel with a Clause.”

I met her in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Jovin reminded people how to structure sentences, explained when to use who and who, and even answered something I’ve always wondered about — does the period have to be in quotation marks or can it come out out, sometimes?

“It always goes in,” he said.

But she says her favorite part is resolving grammar differences between spouses.

“In my experience, usually if a couple comes, usually the woman is right,” he said. “I mean, from my limited experience.”

He was hanging me out like a hanging modifier. But you gotta love her passion.

Jovin has visited 47 of the 50 states so far. She said these experiences have proven to her that Americans care a lot more about grammar than some cynical reporters would have you believe. And he might be right. I mean, a guy at a red light just had to know, right then and there, do you always capitalize after a colon?

“If it’s only a sentence fragment, certainly not a cap,” she told him.

That made her day. It’s yet another fair use in her never-ending quest to make us all better at phrasing.


To communicate On the roador to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.



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