Complainin’ ‘bout grammar inside quotations

Someone identifying his or herself as “Argus Reader” mailed me an envelope today with a copy of one of my stories inside. The envelope warned the matter was “serious.”

The writer informed me that it is incorrect to write “kids that;” instead, it should be “kids who.” “Should use who for people,” it said. (Incidentally, the writer misspelled “usage.”)

I know this rule. The trouble is, people I talk to don’t always use correct grammar. You’ll note that “kids that” appears inside of a quotation. Generally, print journalists correct speakers’ grammar. For whatever reason, I’ve never corrected that/who misuse.

Maybe I should. I used to leave “gonna” as “gonna,” until an editor rightly told me to stop.

I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

When President Obama neglected to pronounce his g’s in a recent speech to the Congressional Black Caucus – intentionally and for effect, I’d argue – an AP reporter was criticized for writing it the way he heard it. I’d have done the same.