In 17 years of teaching English composition in Greenville public schools, Yvonne Mason had seen these blunders many times before.
Redundancies. Faulty capitalization. Lack of clarity and specificity.
But Mason wasn’t grading a student paper. She was reading a letter she received from President Donald Trump.
“I have never, ever, received a letter with this many silly mistakes,” Mason said.
The former Mauldin High School teacher promptly did what she had done thousands of times before: She corrected the writing and returned it, this one going back to the White House.
Mason recognizes, of course, that the form letter she received from the president was very likely written by a staff member, not Trump, though the letter does include Trump’s signature. It came in reply to a letter she’d written about the Feb. 14 school shooting in Florida.
A photo of Mason’s corrections has been widely shared on social media.
“When you get letters from the highest level of government, you expect them to be at least mechanically correct,” Mason said.
She dinged the Trump letter particularly for repeatedly capitalizing “nation,” “federal,” “president” and “state,” turning these common nouns into proper nouns.
Mason wrote ;
“‘Federal’ is capitalized only when used as part of a proper noun, e.g. the name of an agency,”
“If it had been written in middle school, I’d give it a C or C-plus,” she said. “If it had been written in high school, I’d give it a D.”
“When I taught school for 17 years, I taught my kids in English that the way you present yourself in writing says a lot about who you are, about what you care about, about whether or not you care to get it right.”