Friday, 19 August 2011

Stop! Grammar Time!

If you've been following along at home, you've probably noticed that I'm not exactly a grammar stickler. Sort of. I make up a lot of words (yes, in case you were wondering, I know those words aren't real) and I use sentence fragments a lot, and my paragraphing is less than academically appropriate.

Nonetheless, there are certain grammar faux-pas that really bother me. They tend to be the things that remind me of rural grammar. I don't want to make any blanket statements, but I can sometimes pick out which small town near me someone is from by their usage of certain words or phrases. It's like my own home version of Name That London Dialect.

So here is what is sure to be the first of several posts about my grammar pet peeves, featuring the WRONG way, the CORRECT way, and where applicable, exceptions to the rule. Enjoy!

WRONG: Should of, Could of, Would of
CORRECT: Should have, Could have, Would have
Exception: Should of, could of, would of ever correctly follow the words should, could, or would? No, no, of would not.

WRONG: The reason I went there is because I needed a new hat.
CORRECT: The reason I went there is THAT I needed a new hat.
OR: I went there because I needed a new hat.

WRONG: Suppose to
CORRECT: Supposed to
Excepion: I suppose to be fair, I should drown all the cats.
(But then good God, man, what the hell is wrong with you?!?!)

WRONG: I seen a big dog. Did you seen a big dog?
CORRECT: I saw a big dog. Did you see a big dog?
OR: I've seen a big dog. Have you seen a big dog?

WRONG: He really dropped a bomb on you and I.
ALSO WRONG: You and me really dropped a bomb on him.
CORRECT: He really dropped a bomb on you and me.
ALSO CORRECT: You and I really dropped a bomb on him.
Exception: He really dropped a bomb on you and I going to that party.

But really, what the heck does that even mean? I'm tired or I probably would have come up with a better verb/noun clause combination there.

Look, it's not that hard. Forget about the other person involved. If you were just talking about you, and you would normally say "I" then it's "you and I." If you would normally say "me" then it's "you and me."
I will admit that this is one of my pet peeves primarily because I make mistakes with it a lot--not in writing, but in casual conversation for sure.

WRONG: To coin a phrase, I let the cat out of the bag.
CORRECT: To use a phrase, I let the cat out of the bag.
I see this one a lot lately, and honestly, who doesn't know what "coin a phrase" means? I'm not even explaining it. Google is your friend.

ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG: That is exponentially worse
USUALLY CORRECT: That's a whole lot worse
Exception: if you actually mean that whatever you're talking about grows worse by exponents, or at least something similar. 'Exponentially' doesn't just mean 'really a whole lot.' Stop diluting the language.

WRONG: Anyways
Exception: None. Nothing. Never. Don't say anyways.
(this one even comes up in spellcheck, folks.* No excuses.)

*Know what doesn't come up in spellcheck? Spellcheck. I don't care. I'm using it that way anyway. You're allowed to break the rules as long as you know you're doing it. Except not the rules I just talked about. Because, obviously, I'm the controller of the grammatical universe. You should curtsy or something, probably.

Because humiliation is sort of my gig, I'm sure there are ridiculously obvious grammatical or spelling errors in this post. I will give something shiny to anyone who points them out. For real, I will. I support grammar vigilantism.

I normally write my blog posts quite a bit ahead, and I had one for today and when I was giving it a final proofread, I decided I didn't like it. So, I finished this post instead, from a draft I'd started a while ago, at about 4:30 in the morning after coming home from being out last night. And the extent to which I was tired and my judgement was poor, therefore, is the only reason that I'm not going to punch myself in the face for giving it that title.  I felt like I needed to explain myself there.

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