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~Greasepit Grammar~
“Drinking and Dranking”

by Gene Owens

Oklahoma City’s grammatical combo of Frank O. Hamilton and Betsy Daugherty has struck again. Betsy often sends Frank to convey her horrible examples to the greasepit gang at Wade’s Dixieco.

Betsy’s latest discovery, says Frank, “would drive a purist like Miss Prunella Pincenez to drink were she a drinking woman.”

The article referred to actress Loni Anderson as “having drank heartily from the Hollywood fountain of youth.”

When Bubba was in her eighth-grade English class, Miss Prunella drilled into him the tenses of oddball verbs such as “drink,” “sing” and “dive.”

Bubba learned to recite them correctly: “Drink, drank, drunk; sink, sank, sunk; sing, sang, sung; spring, sprang sprung; dive, dived, dived.”

Homer would usually go too far and say “Think, thank, thunk” and “bring, brang, brung.” And Bubba had to teach him that “dove” is the name of a bird, not the proper past tense of “dive.”

Webster’s Dictionary of English usage notes that respectable people in some parts of the United States and Canada still say “have drank,” but good writers prefer “have drunk.” Miss Prunella will rap your knuckles if you say it or write it.

Bubba learned that “drunk” is the usual word for describing an intoxicated person, but “drunken” is proper when it’s used before the word it describes.

“Luther drank too much last night and was drunk when he came out of the Red Eye Saloon,” said Miss Lulabelle. “It was certainly kind of Bubba to drive him home so he wouldn’t be arrested for drunken driving.”


Ye Editor says, "Can you think of a better way to learn English grammar?"

Read more of Gene's entertaining columns:
A Tribute to Johnny Cash
Roy Moore at the Courthouse Door
All about Gene and Greasepit Grammar
Greasepit Grammar: Misplaced modifiers
Greasepit Grammar: Inertia can get you

If you have questions for Bubba, send them to Gene Owens at 1004 Cobbs Glen Drive, Anderson SC 29621 or e-mail him at genepegg@bellsouth.net


Gene Owens has been around the Southern journalistic scene for 48 years. He has been senior associate editor of The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., and editorial-page editor of the Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Va.

As senior editor for Creative Services, a management consulting firm in High Point, N. C., he ghosted more than a dozen published books for professional clients. For the past nine years he has been assistant managing editor, political editor and columnist for the Mobile Register. Register readers last year named him their favorite local columnist, and readers of the independent regional magazine, Bay Weekly, agreed. He was runner-up in the regional Green Eyeshades competition among writers of humor columns.

He has been on the board of directors of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and was editor of The Masthead, the NCEW’s national quarterly. He recently went into semi-retirement in Anderson, S. C.

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