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

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Dear Miss Manners: I am the editor of a publication that includes submissions from a variety of people. Some of them want me to correct their grammar, but some don’t.

I asked a writer if he should do it 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 even asked. Am I wrong to ask?

In your column, since you’re not printing people’s names with their submissions, it seems like correcting their grammar would be fine. A recent question read: “It seems impolite to seat guests (especially those from out of town) in a different room than the guest of honor.” Whoever wrote this question might have wanted to show 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 you were suggesting replacing ‘that’ with ‘then’, and she was going to have to have a whole other conversation about your professional qualifications. Fortunately, that was not the case.

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

It will definitely have a bad influence on everyone involved if there are mistakes or bad grammar in their essays. Any self-respecting writer must recognize the need to defer to an editor – or reasonably argue about accuracy.

Miss Manners suggests that you stop asking the authors for permission – and if they’re offended, say, “That was almost perfect. I just fixed a few small things. My job, after all, is to protect you.

Dear Miss Manners: I am 70 years old and I have known some of my friends for a very, very long time. The problems of old age begin to invade us. Some are now widowed, some no longer drive and some become forgetful.

Last week a friend called to plan a date that would exclude a couple because the husband, frankly, now needs help and is no longer having fun. Friend A made it very clear that I shouldn’t tell Couple B about this date. I know they would be devastated if they found out because we have been doing things together for many years.

So do I go out and stay in the band, at least until my own age issues catch up with me? Or do I skip the exit as Couple B’s loyal friend, who won’t know about my noble deed and maybe won’t care?

Forgive Miss Mannersbut you’ll have to wait for her to catch up with you, as the answer depends on Friend A’s motivation.

Excluding couple B because they’re now boring would be bad news for them, but it’s not rude or immoral – unless you tell them why they’re not included.

Excluding couple B because it would require a little accommodation from everyone else is disloyal and should make you question the long-term value of A’s friendship. Friend A claims the first under cover of the second.

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

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