DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am the editor of a publication that comprises submissions from a variety of people. Some of them want me to correct their grammar, but others do not.
I asked one writer whether to do so 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'd even asked. Was I wrong to ask?
In your column, since you don't print people's names with their submissions, it seems that it would be OK to correct their grammar. A recent question read: "It seems rude to seat guests (especially those who traveled from out of town) in a different room THAN the guest of honor." The person who wrote that question might have wanted to show off the article after it was published, so wouldn't it have been appropriate for you to use FROM rather than THAN?
GENTLE READER: Phew. For a second, Miss Manners was afraid that you were suggesting "than" be changed to "then," and she was going to have to have a whole other conversation about your professional qualifications. Thankfully that was not the case.
Being an editor is your job. Why are you asking for permission from your authors to do it?
Surely it will reflect poorly on all concerned if there are errors or bad grammar in their essays. Any self-respecting writer must recognize the necessity to defer to an editor -- or sensibly argue about the correctness.
Miss Manners suggests that you stop asking the authors for permission -- and if they are offended, say: "It was nearly perfect. I just corrected a few tiny things. My job, after all, is to protect you."