Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thirteen Grammar Pet Peeves

Here is where I make everyone think I'm a big grammar snob. I don't THINK I am, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm a horrible speller (though I promise to TRY to run spell check before publishing my posts from now on!), and I do not claim to have perfect grammar. I loves me a split infinitive from time to time, but it drives me crazy to read (or hear) certain mistakes over and over again. It's careless, and I think people should take a little bit of care when they're trying to communicate. Otherwise it distracts them from your meaning, and you're not communicating well. Here are the ones that bug me the most.

1. I've already mentioned this one, but it bears repeating. 'Loose' vs. 'Lose'. You 'lose' your keys, you 'loose'...nothing. It's not a verb. At least, not usually. Perhaps you 'loose the dogs of war'...But I digress, because when I read this, usually the person is writing that someone is a 'looser'.

2. 'Was' vs. 'Were'. "I wish I was rich." This isn't technically wrong, I don't think, but it SOUNDS wrong. I think it's more a formal/casual thing these days. The more formal, and more educated sounding version, is "I wish I were rich." If you're not sure, remember Pink Floyd's amazing, "Wish You Were Here." ;)

3. 'Me and her.' Or 'her and me.' Or 'She and I' used incorrectly. This is like fingernails on a chalkboard. I HATE IT. So, how to know which pronoun to use? Omit the other person from the sentence. Would you say "her went to the store?" Maybe you would, but you really shouldn't. You should say, "She went to the store." So you would say, "She and I went to the store". I hope that "She and me went to the store" just sounds horrid to everyone, and we don't have to go into why that's wrong. As to 'She and I' used incorrectly, the rule is the same. Just make the sentence singular, and you'll know what pronoun to use. So if you would say, "He took me to the store", then you would say, "He took Maya and me to the store", or, more easily, "He took us to the store." ;)

4. It's/Its. I'm guilty of this one, but it's just a lazy habit, and my finger doesn't know what it's doing. And if I find it, I am not too lazy to go back and fix it, because it bugs me. 'It's' is the contraction for 'It is'. 'Its' is the possessive for it, and doesn't need an apostrophe any more than 'hers' or 'his' does. I had a professor once who said if we ever used 'it's' when we meant 'its' in a paper, we would get an 'F' on that paper. Not a mark down, an 'F'. Ever since then, I've been pretty aware of it. Still, it's the mistake I see the most often on my own blog, which is horrifying. Luckily, my old professor has no power over me now.

5. There/They're/Their. Obviously, this is another one that doesn't bug you when it's spoken, because you can't HEAR the difference, but when someone writes "There going to the store," or "We went to they're house," it bugs me.

6. Along the same lines as #5 are: your/you're; to/two/too; past/passed (I see this one a lot!); and weather/whether. Spell check won't catch these. I suspect that people know the difference, but are too careless to pay attention.

7. 'Literally' when you don't mean literally. Don't say, "There were literally monkeys flying out my ass", unless some actual monkeys came flying out of your ass. And if they did, um, I think we need pictures.

8. 'Unbelievable' when I can believe it. Don't say, "The plumber knows an unbelievable amount about pipes." Believe me, I can imagine that he knows a lot. It's his job. Using this same logic, 'Awesome' should bug me, unless it is used to describe something that is truly awe inspiring, like the Grand Canyon or the stars at night. It doesn't bug me though. I'm perfectly willing to tell you it's awesome that you went to a concert last night, or got that raise you've earned.

9. Well/Good. Well is an adjective, and Good is an adverb. So if you're saying "I'm good," you mean, "I'm good at something" (Damn I'm good!), or "I'm behaving" (I'm a good girl), but if someone asks, "How are you," the correct reply is, "I'm well, thank you." Unless you're sick, of course. But they probably don't care, and were only asking to be polite anyway.

10. Here/Hear. Ugh. Can't tell you how often I see this one, and it's just wrong. 'Hear' is something you do with your ears. 'Here' is where you will find me. Unless I'm there.

11. Misplaced apostrophes. I hate to see a plural treated like a possessive. I wonder if they find it insulting? ;)

12. "I could care less." Do you really mean this? Could you care less than you already do? Because really, I couldn't care less. The sad thing is that "could care less" has become the norm, and is listed as acceptable in the dictionary. Stupid dictionary.

13. Perhaps I'm wrong on this one, because I see/hear it so darned often. "Nobody has deals like these." Shouldn't that be, "Nobody else has deals like these"? Because if it's nobody, then, um, you don't have deals like these, either.

How about you? Any grammar pet peeves, other than people who get all high and mighty about grammar? ;)

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