ôô

The History of National Grammar Day

It all started way back in 2004.

By
Mignon Fogarty
3-minute read
Episode #813
The Quick And Dirty

National Grammar Day was founded in 2008 by author Martha Brockenbrough and handed over to Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, in 2010.

Happy National Grammar Day! We celebrate our love of language every year on March 4th because it’s both a day and an imperative sentence, as in “March forth (as in ‘go forth’) and spread the love of good grammar.” 

Martha Brockenbrough creates SPOGG in 2004

But did you know we’ve only been celebrating National Grammar Day since 2008, and we have author Martha Brockenbrough to thank for the holiday?

Martha was a writer for Encarta.com and the editor-in-chief of MSN.com, and she also taught high school, and that’s what got her started on her own as a grammar guru in 2004 with the founding of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, with the hilarious abbreviation SPOGG, because she was looking for a way to make grammar more fun for her high school students. Membership was free and she took on campaigns such as boycotting Bud Light until they fixed a grammar error on a billboard, and she posted about grammar errors she and her members found in the wild.

President Bush acknowledges National Grammar Day in 2008

Then, in 2008, perhaps not coincidentally a few months before the publication of her book “Things that make us (sic)” spelled “S-I-C” like the editors note, she finagled to get a letter from then President George W. Bush sending best wishes for National Grammar Day, and a holiday created by a woman with a knack for marketing to match her love of grammar was born. 

Martha Brockenbrough puts her mind to fiction

Martha continued to promote National Grammar Day until 2010 when she decided to commit herself to writing fiction, something she has done fantastically well since then. I’m always inspired by her books. I particularly liked the multi-award-winning “Game of Love and Death” that came out in 2015, and she has a new book coming out in November of 2021 called “Into the Bloodred Woods” that has a gorgeous cover and is described as a feminist twist on the Brothers Grimm stories, “Game of Thrones” style. 

National Grammar Day shifts to Grammar Girl in 2010

In 2010, Martha handed National Grammar Day off to me for safe keeping, and I’ve been doing my part to promote it ever since. I’m pleased to say that National Grammar Day been the top story on CNN, I’ve been on the Today Show a couple of times to promote it, the American Copy Editors Society (now known as simply ACES) has embraced the day and holds an annual poetry contest, and countless celebrities have tweeted about the holiday. My favorite is still the tweet from @funnyordie that said “Celebrating National Grammar Day on Twitter is like holding an AA meeting during Mardi Gras.” Too true, Funny of Die. Too true.

How to celebrate National Grammar Day

I’ve also heard from many of you who celebrate in your own ways, by baking cakes, holding events at your schools or workplaces (when we did that), and even giving books as gifts. 

This year, I’m celebrating by making my first LinkedIn Learning course free for 24 hours to anyone on LinkedIn. So you can look for that post on my personal LinkedIn profile, Mignon Fogarty. The 24-hour clock starts ticking when you click the link, so don’t panic if you didn’t read this on March 4th. You can still go look for the post and get free access.

I’ll also read the winner of the ACES National Grammar Day poetry contest in next week’s Grammar Girl podcast. It wasn’t quite available yet when I needed to record this show.

Finally, I created a special National Grammar Day Spotify playlist with podcasts covering the top 10 grammar myths! 

Now that you know the history of our little holiday and you can play with my freebies and look forward to grammar poetry, I hope you’ll have an especially happy National Grammar Day. 

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.