OT: Oldbat and other grammar-ly concerned people

deedlesDecember 10, 2012

RE: apostrophe and grammar discussion on another thread.

OMG, Oldbat and all grammar/punctuation people! Have you ever read the book "Eats, shoots & leaves"? ROFL funny and if you are a grammar/punctuation freak you'll love it. I'm not even that good with grammar and I loved it and laughed my butt off. Anyway, here is the story off the back of the book for your amusement:

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

"Why?" asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

"Well, I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

If you haven't read it, ask someone to give it to you for Christmas or your birthday or Hannukkah or whatever.

Here is a link that might be useful: eats, shoots and leaves

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I would love that book! Just goes to show that an ill-placed comma can change your entire meaning. Grammatical errors, punctuation, proofing errors and the like are major pet peeves of mine.

Another error that currently makes me want to scream blood murder is the misuse of the word 'myself.' "Are you going to the store with myself?" AAARGH!!! To me, that makes me want to shoot myself more than the misues of there/their/they're.

Thanks for the book rec, Deedles!

This post was edited by breezygirl on Mon, Dec 10, 12 at 14:49

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 1:54PM
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Speaking of misuse, it bugs me when people screw up "...and I" vs. "...and me."

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:06PM
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jscout: yes, I think "...and I" when the objective case is required is currently my #1 pet peeve.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Angie and JS: may we have an example of your pet peeve in a sentence? I slept through all english classes in HS.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:17PM
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If they don't get back to answer, maybe this is what they meant.

Subjective case (used correctly):

Deedles and I went to a movie.

Objective case (used correctly):

Angie saw Deedles and me at the movie.

Objective case (used incorrectly):

Angie saw Deedles and I at the movie.

And just for fun, subjective case (used incorrectly):

Me and Deedles went to the movie.

In the South, that last sentence sounds like Mean Deedles went to the movie, and teachers like to interrupt students to ask "Is Deedles really mean?"

Easy way to tell if it should be subjective or objective is to take out the name of the other person. Few people would say "Me went to the movie" or "Angie saw I at the movie."

This post was edited by marti8a on Mon, Dec 10, 12 at 14:36

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:31PM
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Don't forget
Deedles and I went to a movie (used correctly):
Me and Deedles went to a movie.

You've hit on many of mine, but please don't forget:
Where's it at?
Where are you going to?
Where are you coming from?
Waiting on someone vs. waiting for someone,

And given the location of where I work, the lack of conjugating "to be"

He be home
She at home (no 's on purpose)
Where you be?
Where are you and him at?
What time will you arrive at?
We be hungry! Lotsa hungry!

Ok. I'll stop.
I be hungry and out of Reese's cups, which we keep at the store. At.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Oh dear, I feel my grammarian self being pulled into this one, much against my better judgment.

The grammar don't that consistently irks me is the now ubiquitous reversal of the correct order:

Me and Joe went to the movies

Actually, the above is a twofer on the bad grammar list!

That 'me and...' construction really grinds my grammar gears. I started hearing it from my college students a few years ago and it's actually spread surprisingly widely. I hear all kinds of folks talking about how me and X did whatever.

When I'm feeling slightly ornery I sometimes amuse myself by robotically repeating "X and I" every time one of my students does it in a conversation.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:37PM
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breezy, I share your "let" peeves. :) I'm laughing with you. :)

How about apostrophe-s for a plural? Please make it stop.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:41PM
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I think I created a monster (but a fun one) !!!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:47PM
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Ann--I do that to DH even when not feeling ornery. He, however, gets ornery quickly when I do! His grammar and pronunciation leave much to be desired, and I am determined that my children will speak like me instead of him. So far so good.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:47PM
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"Me and Joe went to the movies.

Actually, the above is a twofer on the bad grammar list! "

Right, and yet the above is more common than "Joe and me went to the movies." Of course, around here, it would be "Joe an' me went ta th' movies." lol

The hardest for me to put into practice are the tenses of lay and lie. Whoever decided that lay is both a present and past tense should be shot.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:55PM
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Linelle--Ha ha! The beauty of the new edit button comes into play. :) I do NOT type well on the iPad. I resort to two or sometimes three finger typing. Then the iPad "thinks" for me and garbles my words. It's been worse since I did the iPad software upgrade recently. The auto correct and auto prediction must have changed also. I've been strongly hinting to DH about a plug-in keyboard for Christmas. Fingers crossed!

How DO people type normally on a tablet screen?!?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:55PM
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breezy, I hear ya with autocorrect. I have to watch it carefully when I type "its" or "were" to see if it will get it right, and it does most of the time.

As an old-school touch typist, I really dislike tablet keyboards. I need something tactile. And it kills me to use two or three fingers, reducing me to hunt and peck. I have an extra Apple bluetooth keyboard that works fine with my iPad, but by the time I get them set up, I'd just as soon use my laptop. I really like my iPad, but I love my laptop, no contest.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Incorrect: "Please send that report to Mike and I."
Correct: "Please send that report to Mike and me."

Incorrect: "Me and Mike will review your report."
Correct: "Mike and I will review your report."

The first example happens more often than the second.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 3:37PM
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Two that really bug me:

- not knowing the difference between "affect" and "effect"

- "then" instead of "than"

The list goes on but I don't want to sound old and grumpy.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 3:41PM
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Eats, shoots and leaves. HA, love it! I am getting the book for my father, from whom my incredibly irritating compulsion to correct everyone's spelling, grammar, pronunciation, etc. was inherited.

Breezy - ought you not to have said 'my children speak like I' instead of 'speak like me'. See, still incredibly irritating and quite possibly wrong, too:)

Thanks Deedles. Thank goodness there are others out there like us!

This post was edited by oldbat2be on Mon, Dec 10, 12 at 16:00

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 3:56PM
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The one that is currently driving me batty is using "loose" instead of "lose". WHY OH WHY???

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 3:57PM
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And then there is the "overcorrection" problem:

*Please give this to whomever is in charge here.
Correct: Please give this to whoever is in charge here.

Because the pronoun directly follows the preposition "to," often it sounds correct (or maybe formal??) to use the objective case ("whomever"). However, the pronoun is actually serving as the subject of the clause "whoever is in charge," and so demands the subjective case ("whoever"). The entire clause serves as the object of the preposition "to."

Ironically, I just this moment received an email from a syndicated newspaper columnist; I had written to him to correct a word he misused yesterday!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 3:59PM
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Incorrect: "Please send that report to Mike and I."

jscout, that drives me crazy. I think people are so used to being told not to say "me and so-and-so" that they think it's never right to use "me" in conjunction with someone else.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:05PM
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Speaking of breezy and her iPad, I just read on another thread that she stacks her kids upside down with her Corningware! I'm shocked!!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:21PM
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Wait! Wouldn't it be
"that my children speak as I do"?

I'm one of those people that can hear when something sounds wrong, but I'll be dipped if I could explain why. (again, the sleeping through HS thing)

Okay. "Are ya goin' with er no? " That's what we have going on in my neck of the Midwest, as in "is that your friend in the wood chipper there, er no?"

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:26PM
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may_flowers: OMG, rofl.... my stomach hurts.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Every day I walk past a sign in the parking lot that says
DRIVE SLOW. The day I retire I'm going to pull a magic marker out and put LY after the W. Drives me crazy. It is a professionally printed metal sign. Gramatically it's correct to say "drive slowly" as "slowly" is an adverb, and adverbs describe adjectives or verbs (or other adverbs as it happens). "Drive" is of course a verb, thus it is "drive slowly."

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:46PM
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English Minor raises hand to join in. In my youth, I lived to diagram sentences and write term papers. TMI!

@deedles - I read that book several years ago and enjoyed every page of it. The chapter that addresses the concerns of txtng is quite valid. KWIM?

The epidemic of blatant, horrific bad grammar in the U.S. is appalling and I am always biting my tongue and rolling eyes.

Sentences like "Me and her + verb" drive me up a wall. No wonder our education ranking is dropping on the international list. Gah.

People actually typing/writing such things as 'wanna' and 'gonna' is on my pet peeve list, too.

@breezygirl - In my youth, I could type 100 wpm on a manual typewriter. On the other hand (no pun intended), I have to use the one-finger method on hubby's iPad. My brain is not programmable for the tablet keypad.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:52PM
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I recently bought myself a t-shirt that says "I am silently correcting your grammar." And ditto on the "loose" when they mean "lose;" that drives me crazy.

Along the lines of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, I saw the following plaque that I was thinking of getting as a gift for my fourth grader's classroom:

Let's eat Grandma.
Let's eat, Grandma.
Commas save lives.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:59PM
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Have you seen the birthday card where the young adult women says to her friend, "Where's the party at?". The friend tells her that she shouldn't end a question with a preposition. The first girl answers back, "Okay. Where's the party at b***ch.?"

Please don't tell me what punctuation and grammar errors I have in this post.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:06PM
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My pet peeve is sell vs. sale! It grates on my nerves when people say they are going to sale something or ask how much they should sale something for! Did no one teach them the word sell! And then there are the ones who "stay at" a place rather than live there, never got that one.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:10PM
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People actually typing/writing such things as 'wanna' and 'gonna' is on my pet peeve list, too.

Guilty! What if I quote myself? :)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:17PM
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I am not a grammar fanatic (so don't go back and start reading my posts) but my teeth clincher is "WE was....". You WERE?

12 grade english teacher would fail anyone that spelled a lot, alot. That was HER pet peeve and I remember it well to this day.

I would love to see a poem on the semi-colon. I feel it gets left out an awful lot.

The me and I thing puzzles me. That one was always pretty easy. If you take the other person out the sentence should still read correctly and then you know you've got it right. It's pretty obvious.

"Jenny and I went to the store" or "Jenny and me went to the store"
"I went to the store" or "Me went to the store"

"Give the report to Mike and me" or "Give the report to Mike and I"
"Give the report to me" or "Give the report to I"

This was a fun thread. I thought I had the apostrophe down but that stupid grammar check sometimes is WRONG, I swear it! It will pass things I *know* are definitely incorrect and stop others that I feel are right. Hmph. Or maybe I should have been an English major to remove all doubt, lol!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:42PM
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Elraes Miller

Old grammar teacher..."Where is it at? Right before the at!"

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:51PM
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How about turning nouns into verbs, e.g., to gift, to task. There ought to be a law.

When and why did people start saying "wait on" instead of "wait for," and I don't mean as in an act of servitude. "I'm waiting on my number to be called."

I'm guilty of using "gonna" and "wanna" and "c'mon" when writing informally. I really do know the correct usage.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:52PM
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Less vs. fewer.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:59PM
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I am totally a lurker here, but I just have to post. I've been dying to get this off my chest, and you people will understand!

Locally we have a TV station called ME (Memorable Entertainment.) They show the oldies like MASH and Mary Tyler Moore. They have these commercials touting their programming, and their tag line is "because that's the way ME likes it."

It's a woman speaking, and it makes my teeth hurt every time I hear it!

Oh, and I have an apostrophe story. There is a building here that used to house a legal firm on the top floor. There was a very nice, large, metal sign afixed to the building. It was written in an elegant script, and read "Flotsam and Jetsam, Attorney's at Law." Attorney's what??

Thanks for listening to my peeves.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:08PM
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    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:10PM
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Disrespecting. When did that become a verb?
"It's a word. It's in the dictionary."

My DH said he had a teacher who said, "if it sounds right, you're OK." Of course, I beat him senseless with grammatical corrections.

I had a former niece-in-law who couldn't construct a sentence if it bit her on the .. bummy.
She said, "Oh, I know grammar. When I'm a teacher, I'll use it." In college to be an elementary ed English teacher.

Then, there's the SIL who is an absolute idiot. She was fond of writing complaint letters -- but "why bother with punctuation. It just slows down my emphasis?" And this is the day care teacher who told her own 16 year old daughter (who was reading by the fireplace) "Go outside and play with the other kids. I don't read, why should you?" The SIL who actually got a masters at U. of MD. In elementary ed.

and we wonder why?

Say. How about ending every effing thing with a question mark? Newscasters. Announcers. Interviewees on the news or radio? Public speakers. I've begun asking people, "are you asking me or not really looking for a response?"

Scratch vs. itch.

Ok. It's the wine talking. I took the day off to move my heap of 6x6s up to the house and stack them. Then (?) I got hungry and went down to the pub by my house. I dine there a lot. Today dining included wine.

Be wary. (oh! Wary and leery combined to be weery.)
Be very afraid.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:12PM
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lol Christine. You'd better add a few peanut butter cups to soak up that wine.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Love this post! Totally OT but still fun and I need that right now.
When I was growing up, my mother had a book entitled- English 2600 and it helped you learn correct grammar.

In the midwest - they possess everything(add an s to the business name) and dangle participles everywhere.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:46PM
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Dangling participles and incomplete sentences. Two things that really bother I.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:13PM
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People say the word "literally" for emphasis instead of its correct usage. I hear that word misused every day. Just today, my work colleague said "this request literally came out of the blue". What does that even mean? Or, "during the election, I was literally glued to the TV". And, "he was literally all ears". Just stop it! I mean it.

And regarding the panda story in the OP, I cannot resolve the punctuation dilemma of Oxford comma or Harvard comma. I go back and forth on it. Everyone I know uses the Harvard comma. All my teachers, college professors and work colleagues use the Harvard comma. But the Oxford comma beckons to me; it just seems right. So, upon receiving the Nobel Prize for literature, is it: "I would like to thank my parents, Emily Dickinson and God". That's some set of parents! Or is it: "I would like to thank my parents, Emily Dickinson, and God".

This post was edited by akchicago on Mon, Dec 10, 12 at 19:47

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:41PM
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I am totally a lurker, but I love this thread. Read that book several years ago (from the library) and I swear I should just buy it for myself.

soibean, where did you find that grammar t-shirt? I NEED one.

Can I just agree with all of the above? I think my biggest pet peeves are the -LY; me, myself, and I; and apostrophes.

One pet peeve I haven't yet seen mentioned: in print, the misuse of 1) they're, their, and there, and 2) your and you're. Arrrgh!

I am proud to say that my daughter has inherited my fussiness about grammar and corrects her friends, sometimes at their request.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:53PM
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One of my history professors often told the story of a French deserter during the time of Napoleon.

A subversive clerk changed Napoleon's sentencing order regarding the convict from "Pardon impossible, to be executed." to "Pardon, impossible to be executed."

See, that punctuation - it do be important! :)


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 8:02PM
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Essential books:

Strunk and White, "The Elements of Style"
Shertzer, "The Elements of Grammar"

Note that the GPO and various Newspaper organizations may have different opinions on some elements of style, often taking positions that use less ink.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 9:21PM
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How' bout, "My English is bad".
No, your English is probably fine. Your grammar and language usage is ... "creative".

I, too, want the T-shirt.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 9:29PM
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I want the t-shirt too. No one mentioned this, but if I hear someone talking, and he/she uses the word "like," in front of every clause, phrase, run-on or even a correct sentence, I feel like jumping up and throttling they! How can we break this horrid habit in a large percentage of our population?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 9:54PM
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@OhBlondie - You might enjoy this tee shirt linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: tee shirt

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:02PM
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Alright. You caught me. I abuse both my children and my Corning ware. Yep.

Now leave me alone. :)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:05PM
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OMG, CEFreeman, I never knew that was in the dictionary! Ack! I looked, and it's in my Webster's. So are dis, dissed, and dissing! I am calling it a day. After I throw in the towel.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:10PM
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At work:

"Uh, do you have anything like, uh, Coke?"
Me: "No, we don't have anything like it, but we have Coke."

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:40PM
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a2gemini, bfelton --> Talking about dangling participles
made me recall a school episode.

A group of 8th graders were marched to the principal's office and lectured on having "evil thoughts and giggling like banshees". It was a convent school and the nun who was trying to teach us about "dangling participles" couldn't understand why we were laughing uncontrollably with tears in our eyes..

Sister Theresa:"Now girls..we don't like dangling participles.. do we? We need to find a noun (she pronounced it same as "nun") who can pair with it and make it stand up for itself."
Student: "Sister, can you help the dangling participle?"
Sister Theresa: "Yes of course.. I am going to find a nice noun to make it not dangle anymore."

The Mother Superior was the scottish principal and way more knowledgeable about evil thoughts that a class of 13 year olds can have. That's a grammar lesson we will never forget :)

I loathe "like" as well. DD 8 was silently counting how many times a teen cousin used the word during a phone call with a friend :) Oh dear! She is going to grow up and buy t-shirts like soibean.

Here is a link that might be useful: I am silently correcting your grammer t-shirt

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:43PM
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Peony, don't shoot the messenger, but "slow" can be an adverb. Adverbial forms that lack the "-ly" are called "flat adverbs."

Take it easy! (not "Take it easily.")

Here is a link that might be useful: Flat adverbs

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:47PM
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I love this post. Or maybe I should say I *heart* this post? Gag, cough, snort.

Seriously, though, I am the one who spent half an hour on a United Airlines survey explaining how deplane is not a verb, unless perhaps you were doing the opposite of planing a piece of wood. My college roommate couldn't stop laughing.

Speaking of wood, I would like to begin a campaign to the woodworkers of America who make those awful signs. Example:
"The Johnson's, Established in 1997." Does the signmaker think only one Johnson lives in the house and the other Johnsons sleep in the car?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:04PM
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How about turning nouns into verbs, e.g., to gift, to task. There ought to be a law.

Oooh, Linelle, I am with you on "verbing." I remember a nice Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin utters this perfect line: "Verbing weirds language."

My SIL used to "bath" her children. "I'm going to bath Timmy now, and then we can talk." Arrgh.

I saw a description of some rock formation that "was sculptured by the wind." Geee, was there, perhaps, some other word that we could use to describe this process instead of verbing "sculpture"? Hmmm, no, cannot think of one...

akchicago: YES! "Literally" bugs me badly. And I definitely favor the Oxford comma. What, is it too much trouble to add one, stinking, simple comma to aid in our understanding?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:05PM
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How did I miss this post today? Poor grammar is one of my pet peeves. I agree with Breezy regarding the misuse of "myself." That just drives me crazy, as does almost everything else everyone has mentioned! What are they teaching in schools now? Apparently, grammar is taking a back seat to test preparation. No child left behind, etc, etc.!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:18PM
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I have one complaint that I have not seen mentioned here. About 20 years ago I started hearing people say, "It was so fun.". Since childhood, I (as well as all the other educated folks I grew up with) always used the word "much" in that sentence. "It was so much fun." I think my generation would have been thrown out of school if we ever spoke the first example of the above sentence. Now I hear it used on TV, radio, and in the papers. Is it grammatically correct? If so, when did that happen?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:19PM
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Another second-tier pet peeve of mine is the word "irregardless." Despite its inclusion in some dictionaries, it is NOT a proper word.

It's fun to see some of the regional grammatical errors. Many don't apply to where I live so it's even more interesting.

Btw, I hardly ever correct the iPad's misuse of "it's" when it should be "its". iPad likes" it's". My apologies. I just get tired of correcting (or at least trying to correct, as some of you have mentioned) all the iPad mistakes.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 11:55PM
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What happened to 'babysit'? Now it's, "I babysat Johnny" instead of "I babysat for Johnny". Huh?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:13AM
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Angie, the world has been a lesser place since Calvin and Hobbes retired from the scene.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:46AM
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Gharborwa--As a parent of a first grader and as a two day per week classroom volunteer, I can tell you that grammar instruction has been replaced by trying to get children to shut their freaking mouths, to sit still, and to keep their hands to themselves so they can actually HEAR what the teacher is saying. For about 10 of the kids in my DS's class, grammar is the least of my concerns for their future. Every time I'm in class I'm stunned at how much learning time is wasted by these children.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:16AM
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Breezy --> that was my exact response to classroom volunteering in DD's class. Now I only volunteer for hand's on activities or things I can do at home. Classroom contol seems impossible without unpaid labor (er.. I mean volunteers). If there is no free labor, I think the school system will just collapse.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:32AM
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Oh, "irregardless" bugs the hell out of me too. While I'm at it, so does "OMG." Why do people say "Oh-Em-Jee"? I can accept its usage while writing a text message, but in a conversation? It has the same number of syllables as "Oh my God!" What's the point?

Since I just use the word "conversation," what the heck is "conversate"? That's another one that bugs me.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:34AM
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The "irregardless" example brings up a good point: Just because something is in the dictionary does not make it good grammar or appropriate to all contexts. "Ain't" has been in the dictionary for a long time, as has most swear words.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:22AM
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I confess, I've been known to erase a random apostrophe on a white board or two with a quick swipe of a finger. The most recent was at a lumber store, but I've also done it at restaurants. Where did they all come from? Why do people think they're ok? This is actually a serious question. I don't remember this proliferation of apostrophes when I was growing up in the 70s.

Here is a link that might be useful: Apostrophe catastrophes

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:31AM
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Breezy, I have kids in high school and one in middle school now. I help in middle school art lit and the college career center--there are no paid staff to keep it open.

I hope that your teacher is a good classroom manager. When I volunteered in the younger grades, I watched and copied what lines and what tone of voice seemed to get good behavior without breaking these little people's spirits. Over time, many of those 10 little kids will settle down. Sadly, some will struggle and need extra aides and IEPs. Some will discover they are allergic to gluten or some other food and their behavior will completely change with their diet. (This happened to one of my son's closest friends.)

If you are frustrated at times--and we all can be--I will say that it has been enriching to volunteer in the schools. I feel like I understand the culture my kids are in. Next year my son applies to college, but I've already been helping kids apply to college online. The big payoff is that my kids' friends know me and like me around. Our house is the place where the group projects happen and the kids meet up before homecoming for pictures. It all goes together, and I don't think you'll regret it. What you are doing is very cool. As GWlolo said, your work is essential.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:31AM
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When did "go missing/went missing" replace IS missing? I even hear it on the news now!

I took an advanced grammar class once and two rules I learned...

It's "different than", not "different from". "Than" is comparative and "from" is....not. I see "from" used more and more.

"The lady who lives here", not "The lady that lives here".

Did I just break a comma rule? Some of them are way too stuffy! ;)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:29AM
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If you're on Facebook, there's a Facebook page called Grammarly. Some of the posts are so funny!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:30AM
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I can't believe such disruptive, impulsive behavior is all due to food allergies. When 1st graders are out of control, don't you just dread when they hit middle school? I'm 67 and grew up in a different era. We always had one kid, usually a boy, who was "that kid," but he never brought the class to its knees. He'd get sent to the principal or some specialist. How did it get so messed up?

jscout, I think some people say oh-em-gee because they think it's less offensive than using "God" a lot. It's like saying "F-word" or "F-bomb." Who doesn't actually hear in their head the forbidden word?

annkathryn, people seem to think apostrophes are appropriate options for pluralization. Sounds the same, right? ;-)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:58AM
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Like saying, "Double-You-Tee-Eff"? I'm fine with that. :)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:17AM
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May_flowers, I am not convinced that the your rule for the correct preposition following "different" is correct. While I do not intend to simply appeal to authority, it seems that most sources favor "from," while acknowledging that "than" may be acceptable depending on the sentence construction. I won't go into it, but the argument I have seen most often is that one should use "from" if the following word is a noun, and "than" if what follows is a clause.

Also, consider that the Brits typically say "A is different to B," which sounds very odd to American ears.

Finally, consider "differs." I would only say that "A differs from B." I would never say "*A differs than B."

I think prepositions are a very slippery thing. They mean so much, and have so many shades, and yet are almost unnoticed throw-aways. I think that it is interesting to compare prepositions across languages. I have not studied this carefully, but it seems to me that German, French, and English have comparable numbers of prepositions, used in roughly comparable ways. But there is not a one-to-one mapping between one English preposition and a particular German or French preposition. Rather, some English constructions that demand, say, "from," demand the French " a' ," (a with accent grave) while other constructions for which we would use "from" require "de" or "depuis" or even "chez."

(Edited to replace failed attempt for html representation of a-accent grave.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Different from/than usage note from Dictionary.com

This post was edited by Angie_DIY on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 10:33

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:30AM
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Take vs. bring gets abused on a daily basis. I know that one can be tricky - but when I hear it used incorrectly in ads on TV or the radio I about lose my mind. Why do people who write for a living get so tripped up by that one?

My personal pet peeve is the misused apostrophe. Sweet mercy. How hard it is to understand plural vs. possessive?

Spelling errors on internet boards don't bother me at all. Auto correct is known to do some funny things, and we're not writing a term paper here anyway. So an occasional apostrophe error barely registers on me. However, when I see an entire post filled with apostrophes (or, would that be apostrophe's ;) ha-ha) flying all over the place, I have to impose a quiet moment on myself.

There, I feel better now. :)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:32AM
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I've also been known to change signs. Even street signs. No joke. (Not joking?) I thing that some feel if it's an acronym, it requires an apostrophe, just as a contraction does. Not that they'd know why they think this...

My GC STBX DH used to say "condensate line" for "condensation line". When we'd conversate about grammar.

Once again, the being in the dictionary doesn't make it a "real" word. The dictionary is a book of COMMON USAGE. Just being used doesn't make it an acceptable, grammatical word. It's just ... common.

I was at Home Depot last night, (actually in search of those giant, Peanut Butter Lover's Reese's Cups) and walked down the wood aisle.

The end caps clearly stated:


I quit looking up because it was too high for me to gracefully scale the shelving to white-out the apostrophes.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:39AM
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Advice vs advise.

I was only taught the Oxford comma usage. Was my grammar education lacking? (having a mother who was an English major notwithstanding - although her liberal use of Shakespearean quotes is what I remember more)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:45AM
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In my nephew's school, in a very expensive neighborhood, the teachers display misspelled and grammatically incorrect work. They don't want to inhibit "creativity" by making corrections. It makes my brother nuts. He spent so much money so the boys could go to a highly rated school system. When I taught 2nd grade, we corrected, rewrote, and displayed.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:04AM
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One more, if I may:

The "unbridled" use of "quotation marks" around words or phrases that a person wants to "emphasize." Please make it stop.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:09AM
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What about capitalizing INSTEAD of "unbridled quotation marks" for emphasis? :)

This post was edited by jscout on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 11:24

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:23AM
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How about using l33t speak (text speak) to write forum posts?

"stfu abt my msgs. i m 2 busy & time is 2 imptnt. srsly. now u pls spend 2 hrs drwing my kit layout. tx."

It's the same philosophy that expects praise and recognition for misspelled work. If you think standards are important, you're just a hater.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:25AM
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(head down) I 'overuse' quotation marks. I do that. I'll stop... with GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WILL STOP.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:28AM
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My favorite to abuse is the hyphen which can really create quite the run-on sentence. I do try to stop myself but they just creep in there - quickly and quietly - see how easy that happens? Hey maybe I'm supposed to be using the good old semicolon instead!

So I really have a question for all of the grammar scholars here.

This question:

"Are you going with?" I am hoping it's incorrect because it drives me NUTS!!! Is it not supposed to end with something? Going with WHO?????????????

Is this correct: "Are you going with *me, him, your sister, the mailman* somebody, anybody!?!?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:30PM
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    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:33PM
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My pet peeve...

' vs. "

four feet is 4'

four inches is 4"

That's all :)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:37PM
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    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Here is one: *miniscule. The word is derived from minute. The word is properly spelled "minuscule." However, Microsoft Word has "*miniscule" in their dictionary, and usage, it seems to me, is growing rapidly. Argh.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:09PM
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Autumn--you are correct. "Are you coming with" isn't correct. My correction of DH when he speaks this way drives him nuts. Well, I drive him nuts in general trying to have him speak properly in front of the kids. His error that makes me the most nuts? Of all his mistakes, this one is the worst to me and it's not really that grammatically egregious. He pronounces "they" as "thee"!!! Where, on earth, did he learn that as a child? His parents don't mispronounce that word. He can change the meaning of sentences quite a bit with that one.

Speaking of run-on sentence abuse, the type that bothers me the most is the use of "....." instead of using a period with complete sentences. I see this more and more.

I like your kitchen.....even with the gray curtains.....please don't change them....or correct my grammar.....sorry....pls tell me what 2 do....w/ my mrble cntrs....dont have time 2 reserch...u pls do it 4 me....thx!

This post was edited by breezygirl on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 13:22

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:11PM
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Pektel, that is great.

With the Oxford comma: After dinner, we had cheese, bread and butter, and coffee and cream.
Without the Oxford comma: *After dinner, we had cheese, bread and butter and coffee and cream.

BTW, "Oxford comma," "Harvard comma," and "serial comma" all mean the same thing.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Ahem. This:

After dinner, we had cheese, bread and butter and coffee and cream.

would never be regarded as properly punctuated. Omitting the serial comma is considered a more modern style because the final comma is typically superfluous. "We had cheese, bread and butter." However, the serial comma is used whenever necessary to avoid confusion.

I also have to deliver bad news about "coming with." It is correct. It is idiomatic English, and the construction is an ellipsis in which the object of "with" is understood. My guess is that it started as a geographic variant in the Midwest, home of many German immigrants. Mitkommen, used without any object, is perfectly grammatical German, and I suspect the usage bled into English from there.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 1:38PM
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Much as I am enjoying this thread and much as I have my own long-list of grammar and vocabulary pet peeves, my contribution to the discussion is a bit of a contrary view.

First, IMO (note...I have no problem with selectively adopting text speak to the casual medium of an online forum) there's really nothing wrong with the development and use of new words and new meanings for old words.(Eg. "to dis" and turning nouns into verbs.) Indeed, there's a great deal of respectable precedence for this. Shakespeare, for example, is credited with adding (I believe) hundreds of words to the English language...many of them by adapting their use from noun to verb or verb to adjective and so on. His vocabulary far exceeded the average Englishman of his time, in part because of this. Do we think the language would be better off if he hadn't coined the new words?

The fact is that language is a living thing that changes over time (much like a copper counter top!), and like the copper counter top, that is part of its beauty. That's one of the things that is so hard about writing a dictionary: Lexicographers have to determine when a word (or a new meaning for a word) has become sufficiently common to determine that it should be included and thus legitimized. There's a fabulous little book called "The Madman and the Professor" about the first OED which expounds on this task, for anyone interested. So while I deplore, as much as any other frustrated member of the grammar police, the sloppiness of someone (student, professional or other) who uses slang in a formal English context, I rather like its use in casual contexts.

Second, as several of the above posts have made clear, there is considerable disagreement among experts about what exactly constitutes proper grammar and punctuation. And they are not just disputes between those on one side of the pond and the other --two peoples separated by a common language. The differences of opinion remind me of something I saw quoted in one of my favorite grammar books: Under the heading of hyphens, the author, Roy Copperud introduces the subject by quoting John Benbow author of the stylebook of the Oxford University Press "If you take hyphens seriously you will surely go mad."

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:04PM
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Breezy - is your husband from the midwest? Marcolo beat me on this one! If you needed additional sources, volume 5 of the "Dictionary of American Regional English," and the whole issue of "with" is addressed comprehensively. It is noted that it is common in the midwest, near Buffalo, and in Pennsylvania Dutch country. DH is from NE and I am from Chicago, and say "let's take it with." The "us" is implied. Or, SAID. Now I say, "let's take it with...US." Totally seems unnatural to me.

From DARE:

With: Adverb. Esp. with verbs of motion: Along with, in company with, a person or persons implied in the context. [In imitation of the adverbial use of Ger mit and its cognates in other Germanic languages, reinforced by the analogy of the numerous prep/adv pairs in English, like go in the house/go in.] chiefly Inland Nth.

1935 PA [Engl of PA Germans], Another boy who was with seized the handle.

1944, All our Norwegian, Swedish and Danish friends and neighbors without exception said "Can I go with?" ...instead of "Can I go with you?" The "th" was always sounded as in "think." They also said, in asking if a certain person was included, or accompanied others at any gathering, "Was he with?" This expression was exclusively Scandinavian, and others in town never used them except in quotation marks.

1978 DARE File wNY, Though we've lived in many places where the expression isn't known, my wife has never lost the habit shared by all her friends in Buffalo, of saying, "Are you going with?" or "Can I go with?"

1981 WI, Construction four dealt with sentences of the type, "Do you want to come with?" This construction can be found in all parts of the United States where German immigrants comprise a large percentage of the inhabitants and where the German heritage is strongly felt...But the interesting fact about this construction is that 90% of the young women in Wisconsin used this as compared to 44% of the young men.

1986 DARE File neIL, Go with - Wonderful Chicagoese for Go with somebody - as in, "Do you want to go with?" "With can also stand alone as in "Take with," "Bring with," etc.

2006 NADS Letters "Go with"...I've grown up familiar with the construction, but only from my horde of aunts, uncles, and cousins from urban northern New Jersey. They are of Irish-Polish descent, and largely working class. One very seldom hears it as a naturalism on the Gulf Coast.

Probably more information than you needed/wanted to know.

So give your husband some slack, and next time you go to the movies, take him with.

This post was edited by drbeanie2000 on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 14:11

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:07PM
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OOPS....and I included one of MY biggest pet peeves (and a punctuation mistake) in my post: the misplaced modifier. It shouldn't be "a fabulous little book...about the first OED which expounds on this task". It should be " a fabulous little book called "The Madman and the Professor". About the first OED, it expounds on this task...

See, we all do it. Well, at least, I do. And I'm a writer and editor by profession!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:10PM
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I admit to using italics to emphasize.
Years ago, and really still, capitalizing was shouting.
Asterisks emphasized, *Really!*

But quotation marks simply tell me that someone doesn't really mean what they're saying. Like the idiots that draw quotation marks in the air with their fingers.

I've never clearly understood a semi-colon. Would love to.

I agree that language changes, or we would be using thee and thou, 'twixt and 'tween. However, the basic case structure doesn't change. I learned my cases learning to speak German. Never, ever got it on English. Even with an English teacher mother. Her and me will forever be just stupid. It is nonsense, up with which I will not put.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:11PM
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Maybe we can agree that improper spelling is annoying (again, loose when you mean lose). And proper use of apostrophes doesn't seem like too much to ask.

On a related note that you just raised, melissastar, the rampant use of abbreviations on this forum drives me batty. Maybe others are more frequent users of social media than I, but I just don't recognize many of the abbreviations used in this forum, and often spend a lot of time trying to puzzle them out so that I can get the gist of what people are trying to say. Makes me positively curmudgeonly.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:17PM
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Language does grow and change, Melissa. I agree with you in principle.

But dis- is a Latin prefix that is used on many other words, so it is already "taken" so to speak. Disable, disallow, disfigure and dispose are among the many words that use "dis." And what will those words now mean, since we have given this prefix a more specific meaning of "disrespect"?

"I am going to disconnect my TV from the cable box" would become "I am going to disrespect connect my TV from the cable box."

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 2:47PM
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There are no nouns that cannot be verbed! And no verbs that cannot be nouned.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 4:12PM
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When was the last time you had to diagram a sentence?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 4:15PM
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beachlily z9a

For 16 years I was a scientific editor for the U.S. Geological Survey. When I read posts, I automatically make the proper changes and continue reading.

Loved the first story about the panda. Wonderful!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Ugh - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Well at least unlike Breezy my hubby doesn't say it but some of my relation do!

drbeenie I am from MI and don't cut it short but my family that does was born and raised in WI, just over the lake. Interesting.

I did recently pick up on a little area dialect where I live now (moved a whopping 90 miles west of where I grew up). Instead of "sixth" I have been noticing around here they say "sickth". I can't figure out if the x just wasn't taught as part of pronunciation or what but it's kind of comical to me. That x sound just is gone. I am keeping it alive though, lol! Also with dates - I would say it's December 1st and others here would say it is December One.

Melissastar-I do also enjoy some casual conversation and write quite differently if it is formal/professional in nature. Abbreviations though I feel should be mostly saved for texting where you only have a teeny screen and a teeny keyboard. Not that I don't abbreviate some myself but it totally depends on the audience.

soibean-I have to google many of the abbreviations myself (not a big social media user either). I give myself a minute to figure it out and if I can't I either skip it and figure it unimportant or I google it. I just know the basic very common ones.

Gosh lazygardens - I think it was the 7th grade!!!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 4:33PM
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Marcolo, you did see my asterisk (denoting improper usage) in front of the offending sentence, right?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Ah, regionalisms.(ack! is that a word? or should it be dialect?)

Living in The South (should it be capitalized because it is a region, almost its own planet?), we hear such delightful things as:
"I'm fixing to go to the store, y'all." (getting ready to...)
"What can I do ya fer?" (what can I do for you?)
"That dog won't mind me" (obey - my yankee hubby hates that one)
"Oh we-ell." (one syllable words become two.
"Bayf" --- the 'ay' sounds like the 'i' in high (beef)

Just yesterday, I was explaining the "finger quotes" to some Japanese ladies who are learning English.

With his excellent education and all that, our son continues to say "probly" while Mom bangs head on desk.

"Gone missing" and "went missing" are, I believe, BritSpeak. Even I have started using it after reading my share if fiction from the UK and Ireland. I occasionally even use "eejit" when appropriate, because I adore it. With the Internet and mass communications making our globe smaller, it is inevitable that we'll see, hear, and use more of this. After all, other countries use some of our slang.

Now, about that "The Johnson's, Established in 1997."
I think that the word House is understood, hence the possessive 's. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Things like 2 x 4's and such, I've actually seen this type plural used in P.G. Wodehouse novels when he writes about golf Pro's. Again, a British author.

A few months ago, I was in a traffic jam on the Interstate, behind this 18-wheeler. The sign made me want to bang my head against the steering wheel. Enjoy. BwaHahahahaaaa!

I'm, like, you know, um, well, you know, like, uh, literally loving this discussion thread, doncha know? ;o) (somebody shoot me, now)

This post was edited by Cavimum on Tue, Dec 11, 12 at 17:42

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 5:40PM
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How about newscasters who, when reporting that someone was run over by a bus, say that the bus "ran him over" instead of "ran over him"

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 6:00PM
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And another one: "none are" instead of "none is.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 6:19PM
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I can't even comment on that truck. It's a stencil, no less.

I imagine the apostrophe in "pro's" shows that it's a contraction of "professional," rather than indicating a plural. A now-obsolete spelling.

I get less worked up about the 2x4's. There are some weird rules for using apostrophes to pluralize letters, so I see where it comes from.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 6:40PM
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Wow. So many things to comment on.

I took a standardized test in high school with a memorable misplaced comma question. The correct construction was "Muriel saw three snails stuck to the side of the tank." The alternative that tickled my funnybone was, "Muriel, stuck to the side of the tank, saw three snails." I have a very clear image of poor Muriel and that tank.

Regarding "like": I, like, grew up in th 80s, so I, like, totally use "like", like, way too much.

Regarding using colloquial spellings: I dunno, sometimes I do this for effect. Sometimes I want to write in vernacular. Wanna make a big deal of it?

CEFreeman, regarding the condensate line: Condensate (noun) is the liquid that is formed through condensation. So a condensate line would be a line that carried the liquid formed by condensation. A condensation line would be one in which condensation occured. Now, if, STBX said that the condensor is where the refrigerant condensates, there's no excuse for that.

Regarding the 2x4's: Sometimes people put in apostrophes to make things easier to read, even when they don't want a possessive, and I've seen grammarians argue that it is okay. For example, when I want to make a plural of the word "no". I find "nos" to pretty unclear. Even worse if you are talking about the way a third grader writes the letter A. "Her as are terrible." "Her a's are terrible." Neither one is good, but the second is less confusing.

Here's a stumper for you: I grew up with the colloquialism "That's a whole nother kettle of fish" or similar phrases. As near as I can tell, someone along the way construed "another" as two words and stuck a modified between them. But in writing, should it be "a whole other", "a whole 'nother" (vernacular) or do you just go formal with "that's another kettle of fish entirely"?

I use capitals for emphasis when I don't have easy access to italics. In posts like these, for example, where I would have to resort to HTML coding to do italics. I also sometimes use asterisks. I KNOW that I should use italics, but I just *can't* be bothered to try and figure out the HTML code for it right now.

I belong to a local parents listserve called Berkeley Parents Network. But whenever I write it, I wonder if the network belongs to Berkeley parents or whether it consists of Berkeley parents.

Speaking of Berkeley Parents Network, a recent edition had someone asking about the meaning of DH, DD, DS, etc. on the internet. The responses showed that there are a lot of people out there who either find the "dear" or "darling" to be sappy and offensive, or who take such abbreviation to be laziness on the part of the posters, who couldn't be bothered to write out "husband", "daughter", or "son".

Regarding the Oxford/Harvard comma: My editor at my current job uses a different stylebook on this one than the one I used in high school. I was taught that using a comma before the final list item was old fashioned, and so I don't habitually use them. My editor goes through and puts in the "missing" commas.

Regarding "go missing": I had read that "go missing" was a Britishism that has recently made inroads in the U.S. I will admit to using this one. I like being able to differentiate the state of being missing (is missing) from the event of disappearing or getting lost (go missing). "My favorite T shirt went missing last year and I haven't seen it since."

Schoolhouse Rock: "I can take a noun and bend it! "Gimme a noun!" "Bat, boat, rake and plough!" and my favorite run-on sentence ever, "In the morning, when I'm usually wide awake, I like to take a walk through the garden and down by the lake, where I often see a duck and a drake, and I wonder, as I walk by, what they would say if they could speak, although I know that's an absurd thought."

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 6:53PM
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WHY does the photo of the truck show up correctly on my desktop, but upside down on the iPad??? I give up! It looks sideways here, but readable if you're on an iPad. I'll never understand computers or iPhones (took the pic with mine)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 7:12PM
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Regarding ending a sentence with the word "with" as in:

"Are you coming with?"

I was taught throughout middle and high schools that this was both incorrect and lazy. Incorrect as in violating rules of grammar, and lazy as in not taking the energy to complete the sentence with the appropriate adverb such as me, him, etc.

Apparently, I was not taught proper English. My apologies for speaking too quickly.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 7:20PM
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And another one: "none are" instead of "none is.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Other folks who get bugged by incorrect usage! We are so few.

You guys will enjoy "A Way with Words" on NPR. It's not on every local station, but if it airs in your area, you'll love it. Meanwhile, here's their web site where you can sample the wares.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Way with Words

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 7:42PM
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How do you say - we hit a sensitive nerve.
Freeman - definitely from the midwest with the 2x4's..Grrr

My favorite book but I need to find a copy of my own.

The Joy of Lex - it is a derivative of my real name.

Oh- I need to stop putting exclamation points everywhere....

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Anybody ever read the Sweet Potato Queens book? Halarious! Author is Jill Conner Browne. I really like her use of words like "myownself" and "hisownself" but its really southern talk (she's from Mississippi)

I am guilty of some of the things mentioned here, yet have pet peeves of my own. I hate it when people use "there" "they're" and "their" wrong. Or "than" and "then." I will however, use "cuz" when I'm too lazy to type out "because." I also will use kinda, and gonna. I have 3 boys in their 20's and do a lot of texting and it does rub off. So shoot me.

ROTFLMAO at this here thread! :)

(Now I'm gonna ask a kitchen-related question on another thread and I'll be nervous as @$*% when typing!)

One other thing about Sweet Potato Queens - she has one book called her "Big Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner" for all the foodies here - there are some really good recipes in that thar book LOL!

Here is a link that might be useful: Big Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:20PM
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All of the above! My mother ingrained in me the usage of I and me. Or is it, my mother ingrained the usage of I and me in me?

My husband says, "I'm going to the doctors." But he is only seeing one doctor.

My husband also says, "I looked everywheres." What is "everywheres"? And now my kids say that. It drives me crazy! I'm always correcting them.

I am guilty of writing Tx instead of Thanks.

I am guilty of writing and saying "My bad". The president of my company also says and writes that.

It's interesting how life has become so casual. Remember the days of wearing skirts, dresses, and hosiery to work? I think respect has gone down the tubes.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 8:52PM
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breezy-I'm sticking with you. I do not like the dangling 'with' question.

momand3boys - quite a bit more casual but I'd HATE to go back to hosiery. I don't even want to go there. I don't own a pair!

mountaineergirl-I am not going to go back and re-read any of my posts. I am sure I've got some issues. :) But on the upside it didn't seem to inhibit receiving help!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:04PM
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And another one: "none are" instead of "none is.

Both are correct, depending.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:17PM
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Thanks for posting the book deedles. I will buy(used)copies for my two friends who are copyeditors at Simon and Schuster (or the shoestore as we call it). I'm sure it will make them scream. Well they do that all day long so maybe I should buy them adult beverages instead...

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:50PM
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EATREALFOOD: buy both.

I don't do the "with" thing, either. Bugs me. With what?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 12:04AM
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Okay, I am getting sucked into the vortex of this thread!

First, to answer Cavimum:

Now, about that "The Johnson's, Established in 1997."
I think that the word House is understood, hence the possessive 's. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

I quite agree that House would work. However, we still have a big apostrophe mistake. Typically more than one Johnson lives in the house. It should The Johnsons' if we are going to be using a possessive. If it is the Johnson's, only one Johnson gets to be in the house and the rest have to go stay at Motel 6.

"Here's a stumper for you: I grew up with the colloquialism "That's a whole nother kettle of fish" or similar phrases. As near as I can tell, someone along the way construed "another" as two words and stuck a modified between them. But in writing, should it be "a whole other", "a whole 'nother" (vernacular) or do you just go formal with "that's another kettle of fish entirely"?

Marcolo, my husband and I joke about "a whole nother" all the time, to the point that when someone else innocently uses the phrase, we give each other a raised eyebrow. We think it should be a "whole other" in writing.

"And another one: "none are" instead of "none is.
Both are correct, depending."

Nope. It is always "None is." The test is, you could substitute "not one" or "no one" for "none." And both of those examples always are singular. As Three Dog Night taught us, one is the loneliest number.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 3:25AM
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I am guilty of abusing ellipses, especially while texting. My daughter and her friends call them the 'awkward silence' dots and dislike them, so I am trying to discontinue the practice.

An observation: while I mentally cringe when I hear and see certain abuses, my writing style on this forum is quite casual and I see that I am committing other abuses of my own (ellipses, run-on sentences, etc.). I doubt I will change how I post but I can assure you I will always strive to never misspell anything!

The piece of grammar I never understood: lay and lie, particularly with respect to describing the tanning process correctly.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 6:26AM
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Nope. It is always "None is." The test is, you could substitute "not one" or "no one" for "none."

Sorry, wrong. None is either plural or singular.

Check the dictionary:
pronoun, singular or plural in construction \ˈnən\
Definition of NONE
1: not any
2: not one : nobody
3: not any such thing or person
4: no part : nothing

When it means "not any," it's plural. It has been so since before English was English.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 8:25AM
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You yanks may not agree with this one, but what makes me cringe is the use of the word pair.

'Sale! Buy two pair for $10.'
"I brought two pair shorts".

It should so clearly be I brought two pairS OF shorts.
Or buy two pairS for $10.

I believe in American English it may be grammatically correct (I say this after a long and quite heated discussion on the matter with a friend), but to a Brit this sounds so gratingly wrong it's almost unbearable.

I never correct someone's grammar (except DH) because I think it's rude to do so, but the pair/ pairs thing takes every ounce of self control I have. I just hate it.

I just have to say that I laughed when Oldbat (I think) corrected someone on another thread and then came back and apologized - fantastic stuff! : )

Oh and CEFreeman - what's wrong with 'where did you come from'?
'Where are you going to' is clearly not right, but 'where did you come from' sounds fine to me?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 8:29AM
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@momand3boys - Again, my theory of the understood word. Instead of saying "I'm going to the doctor's office", the word 'office' is understood. If I'm wrong, then oops, my bad. ;-)

Is iPhone's Siri guilty of the dangling participle, or some sort of grammar mistake, when she asks "What can I help you with?" I believe the correct way to ask would be "With what can I help you?" but I might be wrong about this.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 8:51AM
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oldbat2be - Me too. After a lifetime of my father trying to school me on the proper usage with the example of "you never lie a woman" or something of the like, I figured it out finally! I just never, ever, never, ever use lay or lie, or at least never around grammar nitpickians!

I find grammar fascinating from a academic stand point, but in real life I think it is embarrassing when red pencil wielder's can't control themselves in situations where it isn't warranted.

I was cured from the urge by significant other's use of "him and I" when I wised up that it said more about me fixating on it than it did about him using it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Cawaps, I think the "that's a whole nother kettle of fish" is actually an infix in which whole is inserted into the word another.

Linguistically, infixing is a mode of affective grammar, giving info about the speakers mood, instead of information.

So un-infixed, it would become "that's another whole kettle of fish."

Fun thread : )

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Hoboken, to quote my DH's idiot elementary Ed teacher, "if it sounds right, it probably is." Huh? We say, "Where did you come from?" all the time, but it should be, "From where did you come?" Which my mother beat into us.
"With what may I help you" is correct. Preposition in the correct place, plus the correct form of ability: may is permission, can is ability.

Also, that pair thing makes me nuts, too.
A "pair of twins" actually means 4 people, not two.
A "set of twins" is 2 people.
A "pair of shorts" is 1 pair.
A "pair of pants" is 1 pair.
Shrimp pl. is Shrimp, not shrimps.
Fruit pl. is Fruit (NOT FRUITS), unless it's the results of labor, such as, "Fruits of her labor."

OldBat, let me help you.
Lay: Where something rests, such as laying down.
Lie: As in "____ing, Cheating, MFing SOB" or POS, if you're being more accurate. If you want a translation of the acronyms, we'll conver(sate)e privately, ok?

I think "whole nother kettle of fish" is missing one thing: the '. "Whole 'nother kettle of fish" isn't it?

I can't get over people and their addiction to the reflexive pronoun.
I actually heard an airline ticket person announce over the microphone, "If anyone is willing to give up their seat for a free (4-letter F word) ticket anywhere xxx airlines flies in the continental U.S., (I'm getting to the point) see myself at the ticket counter.

There, you have it.
and yes, I've had my chocolate and espresso, thank you very much.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Cavimum - I know he means doctor's office, but it's one of those things that bugs the heck out of me when he says it! Of course his mother always says it, so why shouldn't he? :-)

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Funny to find this thread just now, because I recently reread John McWhorter's wonderful book, "Our Magnificent B*stard Tongue." While I am one of those who says stilted things such as "this is she" and "it is I who..." and "he's younger than I," and while all the mistakes you have discussed also set my teeth on edge, I am trying bravely to adopt the descriptivist approach of linguists and lexicographers.

Melissastar is right. Languages live and grow continuously, and not always in the ways we would prefer. But we don't speak Middle English or Old English or Proto-Indo-European, for that matter, and we don't think it's a problem. We just don't want to see any more changes to our language. This is unreasonable.

We think it's "charming," or "quaint" when Elizabeth Bennett says "... the pigs were got into the garden." Actually, saying "the pigs had got into the garden" is one of the changes that happened in the intervening 200 years since the writing of "Pride and Prejudice." If Jane Austen came to dinner, no matter how properly I spoke, my late-20th century American English would sound wrong to her.

I'm as much of a language snob as anyone. I do judge people as relatively uneducated, or, if I'm feeling charitable, speaking in a dialect, if they say things like "I seen..." But I'm trying to get over it.

BTW - I know one should underline the title of a book, but I don't know how to do that when I'm typing in this box.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 12:38PM
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An anecdote about "lay" vs "lie," the proper use of which I will never forget. My 9th grade English teacher unfortunately chose the example "I lay the child on the bed." She didn't understand why every boy and some of the girls in the class tittered. At 14, everything has the possibility of dirty double meanings.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 12:48PM
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Interesting thread...of course, I love words and language. I admit to a great deal of ambivalence on many of these subjects. Some things -- misuse of reflexives, incorrect use of nominative or objective pronouns, mismatched subjects and predicates and misplaced modifies, for example --set my teeth on edge every time I hear them and probably always will.

Others still grate on my ears, but I have learned to grit my teeth and tolerate them, as I was educated on the squishiness of grammar rules. For decades I couldn't understand why certain spellings and punctuation rules were always being changed by copy editors, when I was absolutely certain that they were correct, having had them beaten into my head by tough-minded middle-school grammar teachers. I finally realized that the rules I had learned at school in the 60's in southern New England were actually British. (Apparently, grammar teachers in Rhode Island adhered to the old ways in grammar as in cuisine...fish and chips was always served with malt vinegar!)
Now, I find I am nearly as annoyed by folks who insist that the way they were taught is the ONLY correct way as I am by unequivocally poor grammar. Of course, I may be overly sensitive to this, as a fair amount of my professional work week is spent battling with copy editors who demand that something be rewritten, making it convoluted and cumbersome but, in their opinion, grammatically correct, or with reporters who insist that the way they originally wrote something is just fine because "that's the way I've always heard it."

On some issues there simply are no absolute caveats: Ending a sentence with a preposition; when to hyphenate; when a collective noun takes the singular verb form or the plural verb form; whether "news" is always singular or if it is sometimes singular; and lots more. The best you can do is agree to use a single source (this particular dictionary, that particular style book, etc.) as your definitive guide and stick with it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 1:24PM
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Lie and lay started making more sense after I studied German (my German is very rusty, so if I mess this up, maybe someone fluent can correct me).

In German, you have the verb legen, which corresponds to lay, and always takes an object. That is, you have to lay something, you can't just lay. The main definition is "to put or place [something] in a horizontal position or a position of rest." Ich lege das Buch auf den Tisch. I lay the book on the table. Legen in German is completely regular, meaning that all of the conjugations of the verb follow the normal rules. In English lay is mostly regular, except that we write laid instead of layed for the past tense (for reasons I can't quite fathom). I lay, you lay, he lays, she lays, they lay; I laid, you laid, he laid, she laid, they laid.

On the other hand the German verb liegen, and the English verb lie, do not take an object. The definition is "to be in a recumbent position; to recline." Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch. The book lies on the table. You never "lie" something on the table. Lie can also mean "to get into a recumbent position," as in, "I am going to lie on the bed." There's still no object in that sentence.

The lay/lie confusion comes up because the irregular past tense conjugations of lie overlap with the present tense conjugations of lay. The past tense of lie is lay: Today, the book lies on the table. Yesterday, the book lay on the desk. But, "Today, I lay the book on the table" and "Yesterday, I laid the book on the desk."

If you can just remember that if your sentence has an object, you want lay, and lay is pretty much regular except for the alternative spelling of "layed," you'll be a step up from most of the population.

A few more pet peeves on mine.

Word use: "Staunch" versus "stanch" (you stanch the flow of blood, but he is a staunch friend) and gauntlet versus gantlet (a gauntlet is a armored glove while a gantlet is what you mean when you say "run the gantlet").

There are a lot of things, inlcuding the word use examples above, that irritate me a lot more when they are in print and got past and editor. Professional writers should know better, and if they don't, their editor should catch it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 2:03PM
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You said >

You are correct that "office" is understood, just as "house" is understood in that Johnson example. What you are missing is that you are really saying is that the house belongs to the Johnsons, correct? You wouldn't say "the house belongs to the Johnson", would you? No, because there is more than one Johnson. The Johnsons live there. Therefore, it's "The Johnsons' house". Make "Johnson" plural BEFORE you make it possessive. "Johnson's" is just pluralizing a single Johnson. "House" can certainly be understood, but "The Johnson's, established 1890" doesn't make any sense, as you haven't pluralized it yet. You've just made one Johnson possessive.

As for the doctor's office being understood, in this case, there could only be one doctor. "Doctor's office" or "Doctors' office" are both correct, depending on how many doctors you are talking about. Rarely is someone referring to only one Johnson when they mistakenly type "Johnson's", however.

Also, saying "The Johnsons, established 1890" is perfectly fine, too, even with no "house" understood, as you are saying the Johnson family was established then.

Does that make sense now? I can't tell you how many Christmas cards I get every year signed "Merry Christmas, from The Smith's!" AHGGGHHH.... again, it should be "The Smiths". More than one Smith, aka a family.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 2:45PM
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@annettacm - LOL I meant to theorize "The Johnson family's house" and didn't do that. Either way, I think your are right. I was in school learning this stuff ages ago and I always reserve the right to be wrong. ;o)

BTW, I need that tee shirt that says STTE of, "Inside every old person is a young person wondering what the **** happened?!"

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 3:13PM
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To be safe, the Johnsons should just write "The Johnson Family " and just leave the house out of it. :)

You are not the only one. As I said, my Christmas cards prove that the majority of people don't know how to pluralize their own last names. It's especially hard with people who have names ending in "s" or "z". The Schwartz family pluralized would be "The Schwartzes". I get more cards signed "The Schwartz's" than anything else, which is, of course, incorrect. It's like people think they are changing the spelling of their name if they put an -es on the end. It's okay, people.... it really is okay. :) But it is a very common mistake.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 3:24PM
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I do "whole 'nother," at least out loud. I don't write that way.

My DH just looked that up a week or so ago, in the Dictionary of American Regional English. He likes to note my so-called odd phrases and look them up. I don't have anything on him, though, except that he can't pronounce "Chicago" right. Also, though it is technically correct to pronounce the "wh" in "while," "where," and "which" with the h clearly verbalized, I still pronounce them "wile," "wear," and "witch," and it still seems odd (after 20 years) to hear him pronounce the "wh" as in "who."

Here is a link that might be useful: DARE

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 3:28PM
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Many things that people think are wrong, aren't.

You can certainly start a sentence with "and," end a sentence with a preposition and stick a split infinitive in between. None of these are proscribed by the rules of grammar.

I find most business managers today are functionally illiterate. Their writing is so disorganized and riddled with errors it is impossible to understand; very often, they do not have any idea what they mean, only that they want to sound "tough" and ready to "turbocharge." I got an email this morning from someone explaining that when she wrote yes, she really meant no. Confusing yes and no is quite a feat.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 4:04PM
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I just came back from the doctor's office. They had a container full of pens; you know the kind -- they had silk flowers on them to prevent theft, and the container was a vase full of glass pebbles. Thus, not unreasonably, they decided to put an identifying note on the vase, as the true nature of the pens was somewhat obscured. Sooo, of course, they put a note on it that said Pen's.

Ironically, on the trip to the office, I had been mentally composing a post to this thread along the lines of Ginny's or Melissa's above. So I was tossing around sentences in my mind about the greengrocers' apostrophe (as it is known across the pond).

I was the only patient in the waiting room. Another patient came in, and she and the receptionist started giggling conspiratorially and talking about the pens. Seeing my quizzical countenance, the other patient explained to me that she was there not long ago with her 14-year-old son, and he had threatened (or perhaps attempted) to extend the apostrophe into an "i." The apostrophe in Pen's. ( I'll pause while you process that.)

So, they waited for my response, and I BLURTED out "That is funny -- I had just been sitting here trying refrain from getting up and crossing out that incorrect apostrophe!"

They gave me a funny look, and I went back to reading. :-)

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Marcolo: Regarding "none," I am pretty sure what I told you is how I was taught in a college journalism course by a major editor. But, I actually think your "not any" makes logical sense. There are not too many situations one could use "none" with a plural verb though. I have been playing with it in my mind, but I have not had time to write examples out.

For the others who may not be following this portion of the thread, reprinted below.

C: Nope. It is always "None is." The test is, you could substitute "not one" or "no one" for "none."

M: Sorry, wrong. None is either plural or singular.

Check the dictionary:

pronoun, singular or plural in construction \ˈnən\
Definition of NONE
1: not any
2: not one : nobody
3: not any such thing or person
4: no part : nothing
When it means "not any," it's plural. It has been so since before English was English.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 7:50PM
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Imhappy&Iknowit IOWA zone 6b


    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 8:50PM
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There are numerous examples going back about 1100 years so they shouldn't be too hard to find.

None were missing.
None of my neighbors are here yet.
Almost none of the children can spell properly.
None of the chairs were comfortable.

I've always found the urban myth that none is singular to be really weird. It's simply incorrect beyond debate. But a lot of people like to practice armchair etymology. None looks like a contraction of no and one, so they assume it is. It's not. It goes back to the languages that predate English as a single word.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 8:51PM
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I want to weigh in on the use of apostrophes in pluralization. Now, I hate the errant greengrocer's apostrophe as much as anyone. I have been known to erase them when no one is looking, and sometimes when someone is. However, there ARE places that one must (or may) use apostrophe-s to pluralize. I must say that I disagree with Christine and a2gemini that 2x4's is patently wrong. Let me explain.

One uses an apostrophe if the meaning without one is unclear. Everyone, all experts, all casual speakers, all style guides, etc., agree that one uses 's to pluralize instances of lower-case letters:
Mary has been practicing her penmanship, and is making great progress with her d's.
If you were to disallow this usage, when Mary started working on her vowels, you would be faced with:
*Mary has been practicing her penmanship, and is making great progress with her as and her is.
So you can see why you need them there.

Should you also use an apostrophe to pluralize capital letters (majuscules)? The trend in English usage is to simplify where possible, getting rid of hyphens, diacritical marks, periods, etc., where they are not strictly needed. Thus, usage has started to avoid apostrophes in pluralization of capital letters, because usually you can discern the meaning:
I was playing Scrabble and was stuck with 3 Ts.
However, it is not always so clear. For example, let's say Mary was an erratic student; either she did well in the course (earning an A) or she did not complete her course, (earning an incomplete).
Correct: A's appeared often on Mary's report cards. I's, unfortunately, showed up in equal measure.
Confusing: *As appeared often on Mary's report cards. Is, unfortunately, showed up in equal measure.

Of course, standard advice would be to rephrase, but this contrived example shows that sometimes good usage demands an apostrophe.

What about abbreviations? Generally, if an abbreviation is formed of all capital letters with no periods, you can omit the apostrophe:
At the party, I was stuck talking to two MBAs and three MDs."
However, if you got stuck talking to two professors, and you omit the apostrophe, you have:
*At the party, I was stuck talking to two PhDs.
That is confusing; the mixture of uppercase and lower case does not clearly signal that the second lowercase letter, the s, has a different function. Thus, most style guides demand an apostrophe in this case:
At the party, I was stuck talking to two PhD's.

If you do use the periods in the abbreviation, the sources I checked required an apostrophe, because this is confusing:
*At the party, I was stuck talking to two Ph.D.s.

What about numerals? Many contemporary sources suggest no apostrophe for numbers of two digits or larger, but suggest one for single numerals. Just for fun, I pulled out a 1976 dictionary and checked their usage suggestions. Now I confess this is a decidedly descriptivist dictionary (American Heritage), but nonetheless they professed a strong preference for the apostrophe. Even in the case of say, the 1700's or the 1960's. They required an apostrophe for single numerals:
I've been rolling 7's and 11's all night!

Finally, we can come to Christine's example of 2x4. I argue that this case clearly admits the use of an apostrophe to improve its clarity. Consider if it were to be omitted. You are going down the aisle and see bins marked

There seems to be some sort of code, perhaps like a SKU number? Granted, if you are Home Depot, you probably know what these mean. However, you have a mixture of numerals and lower case letters. Most of the people on this board would read 1x3s as "one-by-threes" but the uninitiated may scan it as "one-ex-three-ess," wondering "What does this code mean?" Here, 1x3's would be clearer.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 11:24PM
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So you got me curious enough to hunt it down. Not all of your examples follow the rule. Here is the Associated Press Stylebook (copyright 2004, p. 173) entry verbatim:

none It usually means no single one. When used in this sense it always takes singular verbs and pronouns: None of the seats was in its right place. Use a plural verb only if the sense is no two or no amount: None of the consultants agree on the same approach. None of the taxes have been paid.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 1:17AM
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My father always insisted that the title of Agatha Christie's book _And Then There Were None_ should actually be _And Then There WAS None_. I've also been told that the traditional wedding vow should have "until death DOES us part," not "until death do us part."

In library school we learned about the awful noun, "aboutness." It means what such-and-such is about. I absolutely hate this word with a passion, and haven't gotten used to it yet. We also learned that the accepted Library of Congress keywords that you'd use in a search or to describe the subject of a book are updated every year. The LoC keyword "cookery" has been replaced by "cooking" only recently. That's an example of the difference between "taxonomy" and "folksonomy," in which some words, such as made-up words like "folksonomy," become accepted in usage.

Actually, I think we all have excellent writing skills on this board, regardless of grammar mishaps. We write in complete sentences. We capitalize the beginnings of sentences and proper nouns. Spelling is good, except when "autocorrect" intervenes. It is easy to understand what people are talking about (or you could say in lib-speak "the aboutness of each post is easy to identify," ugh). The writing is generally better than that of my local newspaper, much less the average facebook post or tweet.

One writing pet peeve: "that" and "which." The British use "with" the way I use "that," and they don't put a comma before the "which." I was taught to use the comma before which, but it isn't incorrect in Britain.

Anti-with-ers: The "missing" end of the phrase is clear by context. "Let's take it with" means "Let's take it with us." "Can I go with?" means "Can I go with you?"

Since my DH marvels at what seems to be a fascinating but completely bizarre turn of phrase every single time I use it, I've gotten to the point where neither version sounds right. I tend to say, "Let's take it with. Us." around him, and the "Us" always seems like an unnecessary addition that I have to tack on, but when I visit Chicago and everybody around me, including both English-major parents, says "Let's take it with," I'm excruciatingly aware of it and it doesn't quite sound right either. I really wish he and others could accept it as a charming regionalism, like "y'all" in the South.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Drbeanie - I can talk about the comma before "which." (Anything to avoid cleaning the house.) It has to do with whether it is restrictive or nonrestrictive. Compare "Taxis, which are dirty, may not enter the city of Boston" and "Taxis which are dirty may not enter the city of Boston." In the first case (nonrestrictive), the implication is that all taxis are dirty, and you'd better plan to take the subway. The information within the commas is extra description and not necessary to the main meaning of the sentence. In the second (restrictive), you can expect that any taxi you hail in Boston will be clean.

I also always thought that one used "who" referring to people, and "which" referring to other nouns, and "that" could be used in place of either.

Did I identify the aboutness of your post, or was my aboutness about something else?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Drbeanie, ditto what Ginny said. Moreover, I don't believe that British usage differs from American usage in the preferred word to introduce restrictive vs. nonrestrictive clauses. To be sure before posting, I just checked Fowler (The King's English, 1908 edition) and with a British co-worker. Fowler and my colleague assert, in agreement with my understanding and modern American usage guides, that it is preferred to use that (with no commas) to introduce restrictive clauses, and to use which (with commas) to introduce nonrestrictive clauses.

(Edited to resolve potential ambiguity of "contemporary," which I originally used instead of "modern.")

This post was edited by Angie_DIY on Thu, Dec 13, 12 at 15:19

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 1:13PM
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While we're on the topic of grammar police, I'd like to comment on "may" vs "can." Some teachers, according to DD, still smugly answer "I don't know, can you?" when students ask if they "can go to the restroom," for instance. No, she can't unless you give her permission. These people are lucky they aren't saying it to me, or when I got back from the restroom I'd give a disquisition on the history of the English language and the origins of some inane grammar "rules."

They only get away with this because of their hierarchical relationship. Can you imagine answering your hostess in this way when she asks if she "can offer you more mashed potatoes"? Or worse, your boss, when she asks if she "can see your draft of the Kleinstuber presentation." In the first case you could end up with a lapful of mashed potatoes, and in the second, you could be fired. This particular nitpicking rule is an archaism that adds nothing to the clarity of our communications. And, in the end, good grammar should be about grace and clarity.

Thanks for letting me vent.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 2:06PM
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I'm enjoying this thread immensely. We clearly have a pro or two (see how I avoided having to pluralize pro?) in our midst. I had never heard about restrictive/nonrestrictive before, at least never called that.

How I write in emails to friends, or possibly on this board (wanna, gonna, ain't, you guys), would never show up in my business correspondence. Hopefully.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 2:22PM
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If the restrictive/nonrestrictive clauses are new to you, I learned the following. If the clause is essential to the understanding of the sentence, you should use no comma and a "that" to set off your clause. On the other hand, if the clause adds richness to the meaning, it is more likely to take a "comma-which." Here are two examples I put together.

The house that was built in 1906 is recognized as the best Craftsman home in the neighborhood.


Our house, which was built in 1906, has three mature holly trees in its yard.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:10PM
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You are smart to avoid pluralizing pro in writing. It is a Latin prefix that we are using casually as a complete word. (See the "dis" discussion earlier in this thread.) Constructing your sentence another way is creative. Finding a synonym is the other method.

I do agree with the prior posts that apostrophes can make things clearer with some plurals. However, when I am reading along, I will likely be distracted by either pros or pro's. Distracting the reader is never the intent of good writing.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:20PM
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Bravo, Ginny!

I think proper usage can be a difficult matter. On one hand, there are sloppy and ignorant (not meant in the pejorative sense) writers, and, depending on the formality of the situation, it irks us greatly to see them misuse the language. We certainly do not wish to be similarly guilty of irking others. On the other hand, it is all too tempting to try to formulate all-encompassing rules and to apply them faithfully, almost dogmatically. Real usage takes more discernment and judgement, and compassionate listening takes some tolerance.

(On a side note, I am becoming convinced as I age that this same principle -- rules are easier and useful, discernment is harder and better -- is active in many other domains, including, but not limited to, office politics and morality.)

Let me close with a wonderful quote from George Polya:

Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry ... To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery. -George Polya, mathematician (1887-1985)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Dear LORD you all lost me way back. I'm just here to tell everyone that I'm now erasing half of what I write only to most likely, re-write it wrong ennyhoo! Just like I probably did right there. Right?

Glad y'all r havin' fun tho....


    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 4:11PM
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deedles, I know you were tweaking us a little in fun, but I applaud your use of "y'all." Used correctly, as in Southern or African American dialects, it serves a good purpose in English. We don't have a different pronoun or verb ending for the second person plural, as do most languages. Sometimes it really is much clearer if one can specify that one means "you all," not just you-the-person-I'm-talking-to.

Angie - Love that quote!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Here is another nit-picky usage that people abuse all the time, namely putting comparative adjectives in front of unique. Unique means one-of-a-kind; therefore using it with either more or most is incorrect. To wit, My new kitchen is the most unique in the neighborhood. Or, your kitchen is the most unique I have seen on this board. I know it's incorrect, but I do it myself all the time. Here's to all our unique kitchens!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Bumping this up because of a Facebook post I just read. See link below. LOL

Here is a link that might be useful: The Onion

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 2:27PM
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Oh my gawd, that last paragraph in the article is hilarious! Gotta love the Onion.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Oh my gawd, that last paragraph in the article is hilarious! Gotta love the Onion.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 9:44PM
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My name is Shannon, and I employ the Oxford comma. I am quite a bit late to this party, but I do have a couple of additions.

"Fixing to" I will preface this by stating that I am from the south and have used this verbage my entire life. Though I was raised by highly educated and enlightened people, it is common phrasing here spoken by all. I was an adult before I understood that this was incorrect. By the way, it is fixin to not fixing to.

I was taught that a comma must follow a prepositional phrase at the beginning of a sentence, yet I see this less and less. Any comments or explanation by those of you who are definate experts?

Aonther pet peeve: double negatives

Cavimum, that article is hilarious.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 10:22PM
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