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Miss Manners: I’m an editor. Is it rude to correct grammar?

Dear Miss Manners: I am the editor of a publication that comprises submissions from a variety of people. Some of them want me to correct their grammar, but others do not.

I asked one writer whether to do so on his work, and he said he wasn’t sure. But then, an hour later, he came back and said he was offended that I’d even asked. Was I wrong to ask?

In your column, since you don’t print people’s names with their submissions, it seems that it would be okay to correct their grammar. A recent question read: “It seems rude to seat guests (especially those who traveled from out of town) in a different room THAN the guest of honor.” The person who wrote that question might have wanted to show off the article after it was published, so wouldn’t it have been appropriate for you to use FROM rather than THAN?

Phew. For a second, Miss Manners was afraid that you were suggesting “than” be changed to “then,” and she was going to have to have a whole other conversation about your professional qualifications. Thankfully that was not the case.

Being an editor is your job. Why are you asking for permission from your authors to do it?

Surely it will reflect poorly on all concerned if there are errors or bad grammar in their essays. Any self-respecting writer must recognize the necessity to defer to an editor — or sensibly argue about the correctness.

Miss Manners suggests that you stop asking the authors for permission — and if they are offended, say: “It was nearly perfect. I just corrected a few tiny things. My job, after all, is to protect you.”

Dear Miss Manners: I am in my 70s and have known some of my friends a long, long time. The problems of old age are starting to creep up on us. Some are now widows, some no longer drive and some are getting forgetful.

Last week, one friend called to plan an outing that would exclude one couple because the husband, frankly, now requires help and is no longer fun. Friend A made it clear that I was not to tell Couple B about this outing. I know they would be crushed if they knew about it, because we have done things together for many years.

So do I go on the outing and stay in the group, at least until my own age problems catch up with me? Or do I skip the outing as a loyal friend of Couple B, who won’t know about my noble act and may not care?

Forgive Miss Manners, but you are going to have to wait for her to catch up, as the answer depends on Friend A’s motivation.

Excluding Couple B because they are now dull company would be unpleasant news to them, but it is neither impolite nor immoral — unless you tell them why they are not included.

Excluding Couple B because it would require some small accommodation on the part of everyone else is disloyal, and should make you question the long-term value of A’s friendship. And too much time has passed for Friend A to claim the former under the guise of the latter.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin

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