Do you have a pet peeve about words commonly misused or commonly made grammatically mistakes? Or perhaps you have a question--something you are not quite sure about concerning word usage or grammar. Please let me know and I may address it in my "The Naughty Grammarian" series. Miss Grammers takes requests--who knew?
Now let me see. I can think of two offhand, " i, um," used often in the middle of a sentence. There is a commercial (political) where someone running speaks and keeps saying "um". Plus I have read it often. I also often read Hubs that have capital "I" opening a sentence, but in the middle of sentences the "I" is written in lowercase. Why do they do this?
I have UMM disease. I say it all the time when I'm filming video lessons for my online classes, and I know exactly why I'm doing it: I'm trying to describe how to do something visual with words. It takes a second for those right brain/left brain translators to work, and that's where the umm comes in.
If a politician is doing this, he's doing some creative lying.
Oh yes, my biggest one is "your" being used for "you're". It befuddles that people get this wrong. The two words are completely different. "Your" is a pronoun and "you're" is a contraction for "you are".
My phone auto corrects "have" to "gave" often. This can seriously mess up the intended statement. For example, if someone asks "Do you have a hammer I can borrow?", to which I answer "I gave a hammer". I gave a hammer? So do I no longer have a hammer?
Adding "though" to the end of a sentence for the sole purpose of sounding cute and popular. For example, a picture of a dog with the comment "Look at those ears, though!" Though? As if someone was challenging the cuteness of the dog. Ugh.
I have two pet peeves: 1. Hearing people say, "I could care less" to express the sentiment that they are without any concern over a matter or situation. Spoken this way, it implies the very contrary - that yes indeed, the person does care. To convey the desired sentiment logically, the sentence should be expressed, "I could not care less" or "I couldn't care less.", which succinctly indicates they possess no care whatsoever about the matter or situation.
2. When a speaker throws an extra "s" at the end of a plural word. This is generally done because the speaker simply does not understand the rules for plural usage of words that have "s" near the end. I have actually heard people -allegedly educated people!- say things like, "I performed my breastes exam today." or "I returned the graded testes back to the students." A worse example involves a proper family name when speaking about more than one individual in the family. E.g.: "I invited the Westesses for dinner". The properly spoken sentence would be, "I invited the Wests for dinner."
Beth, I was about to post about "I could care less", but I was hesitant to because I've always suspected it must be some kind of accepted American phrase and not a mistake. It's never used in Britain, but we often hear and read "I could care less" from American sources - in movies and in writing, etc., It always sounds very strange (and very American) to us. It also sounds wrong, but the fact that it's often used by people who know how to speak and write grammatically correct English is what made me think it can't be a mistake but must be an accepted idiom. So it's actually wrong in America, too? Your post is a revelation to me as I've puzzled over this for years, lol.
Examiner - I couldn't agree less lol As I understand it (and as it's widely understood in Britain, at least), "I couldn't care less" means I care so little that I'm unable to care even less than I do now. If I could care less, I would, but I can't because there's no lower level of caring that is humanly possible to achieve.
I guess there must be a difference in how this phrase is perceived as I know you're an excellent and gramatically correct writer. So, if you use "I could care less" intentionally, it must be correct according to your (and many others') perception of it. I thought it might be just one of those Brit/ American differences, but Beth is from Tennessee, and that screws up my theory. Beth, are you sure you're not a Brit?
No, not a Brit. But both sides of my family produced several educators, and some of them were my elementary and jr. high teachers (and oh yeah, they drilled the proper English into my head!) In fact, my oldest son is now a university English teacher.
Maybe I misunderstood The Examiner's reply to BethPerry, but it looked like he was saying that "could care less" is correct and "couldn't care less" is wrong because "couldn't" and "less" cancel each other out and mean that someone does care (as much as, and maybe more than, before). My earlier reply to Beth (who is from Tn) was to say that, until her post, I had always assumed "could care less" to be a completely illogical but well-accepted thing that Americans consider correct. I was surprised (and pleased) to see an American say it's wrong. So The Examiner's reply to Beth implying that it wasn't wrong (or at least, that's what I inferred) put me back to square one. In Britain, it's a non-issue because nobody ever says "could care less" unless they're pretending to be American and say it with a fake American accent. So - I'd love to know once and for all: is "could care less" a phrase that American English teachers would correct in class if a student used it, or is it a phrase that the English teachers themselves would use and consider correct?
Beth says it's wrong - The Examiner says it's not (I think) and now you (another Beth just to add to the confusion) agree with Beth (and 60 million Brits). As for American usage, I'm hoping the Beths have it right because, frankly, my dear, I DO give a damn
I have already researched this. It is "I couldn't care less." Many people in this thread have said "I could care less" is not the way to go if you want to express disinterest. Miss Grammers will put this all in a hub soon. (Lucky for me, I can edit and fix my typos and failure to proof read.
That was such a fun post. lol! Um, I think that it is such a common saying, that for that reason, an English teacher might not correct it. The thing is, to add to the confusion, I think it is more commonly said, "I could care less." Which is just the lazy way to say the same thing. I have always taken it as, "I could not care about the subject matter less, even if I tried." So to say, "I COULD care less." makes no sense at all.
The Naughty Grammarian has finally done a hub on one of the pet peeves volunteered here--the misuse of "I could care less" for "I couldn't care less" plus the related issue of the confusion between uninterested and disinterested. While she was at it, she discussed a few other poorly understood idioms such as lying through one's teeth, and butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.
The Naughty Grammarian will be addressing your other pet peeves soon. She is still looking for your suggestions about words that are commonly confused--similar to uninterested and disinterested.
Just as a thought, perhaps the Naughty Grammarian could also do an article on grammar terms. For instance I wouldn't know a transitive verb vs. an intransitive one if they whacked me alongside the head.
That's actually a very good idea for a teaching tool. When kids are young, they could have pics on flash cards of the different parts of speech and what makes them unique represented by their appearance. It would stick with them forever.
Good idea about the terms of speech. I discussed transitive and intransitive verbs in my hub about "Lie, Lay, Laid", and then immediately forgot which was which. I'll have to think up a way to make it memorable..
In my area, people switch saw vs. seen. I cringe when I hear people say (or read) "I seen that" GAH! you SAW it. That's my big one and it's everywhere. People speak and write it that way and it drives me nuts. I'm not sure if it's a phenomenon mostly in my area of the US (Midwest) or if it's just rampant everywhere, but nothing grates me like that.
I know exactly what you mean. To me, it is not writing, it is communicating. Some ppl talk with their hands, some use expletives... I am an ellipser. However, I am seldom a winker and I would like that to be taken into account when being judged. I seldom wink, and considering how much I joke... you are all quite welcome.
If I ever write a book about ppl with accents, I will simply say they have an accent. Or a heavy accent... or a barely noticeable accent. What I will not ever do is write something that looks like this.
The southern man said, "I uh-gree suh. It surely hais beyun a lawng hawt summah!"
Oh my word, how I hate that. After one paragraph, I want to yell at the author, "We get it! He has an accent. Now stop writing like a first grader and get on with it, you're giving me a headache."
Oh, Sed-me, I love reading books that use that type of accent graphic, for lack of a better way to state that. I read hundreds of books to my children, and they enjoyed the accent as much as I enjoy reading with one. Invariably, it brought smiles and grins to all involved.
I can see where it might work if you were reading it aloud to kids, but I hate it when authors do that. Yes, it gives me a violent headache too. I like it far better when the author uses word choice, sentence structure and rhythm to show the character's accent. For example a French character could say, "Is it not so?"
I also hate when the author writes entire paragraphs in a foreign language and I have to find a language dictionary to figure out what on earth the characters are talking about.
lol... They do that in movies a lot... speak a foreign language without subtitles. I love that. It's like they're saying, "We get that you're an above average viewer. You can understand by gestures and the filling in of blanks what the character might be saying now." I like to think they're speaking to me specifically... like maybe I'll contact all the other viewers and explain it to them.
In movies it's not so bad. In novels, if there aren't any stage directions...argh! I have enough of an understanding of French, Spanish, German and Italian to get by with a few simple phrases, and even some more complex ones. But when the author goes overboard on this, it gets tedious. .
I didn't understand that one myself until I researched it. When referring to feelings use "good." When referring to health use "well." If someone says, "How are you feeling" say "I'm good." If someone says, "I heard you had the flu. How are you feeling?" Say," I'm well." (But don't say "well-ly". I have to credit Iris Drake with that joke. She put it in her comment.)
Apostrophe misuse really grates with me. A lot of people have difficulty with plurals, and add apostrophes where they shouldn't be used, for example, apple's instead of apples. And the muddling up of it's (it is) with the possessive its. This worsens into people putting apostrophes in his and hers as well.
My customers tend to be on the low end of the technical knowledge scale, and I'm constantly getting emails from them in all caps. I know they don't mean to scream at me, but honestly, that's how I read those messages. I have a stock "let me tell you a secret" message regarding this, to let them know what it means to send an emails that are all in caps.
In written communication with non-fluent speakers of English I have to deal with what I affectionately call Yoda-esque word and clause order. I really have to read the emails three times to understand what they're saying.
Catherine it is very funny that in your question was an easily missed mistake. Possibly you can do a series on proofing and giving us some fun examples when that was not done appropriately I am joking, of course, unless that leads you into a fun direction - I have read most if not all the grammarian series and will continue to do so. Thank you for your contribution.
Mds: Please don't rub it in. My failures re: proof-reading horrify me. You have a good idea there. A collection of funny proof-reading mistakes where the error changes the meaning and makes it funny. Like "Eats Shoots and Leaves, a book about grammar, where commas change the meaning to "eats, shoots, and leaves." P.S.: I'm not offended--I like people to correct me so I can fix errors. Maybe I could say I did it deliberately as a joke.
I once saw someone wearing a shirt that said "Let's eat, Grandma. Let's eat Grandma. Forgetting the comma can kill." It gave me a good laugh, but I always think carefully now about whether or not to use a comma.
Yes, people get then/than wrong often. I tell my students what a difference it makes to use the correct word. For example, "I'd rather be pissed off than pissed on" is understandable, but "I'd rather be pissed off, then pissed on" is saying that after you get angry, you want someone to urinate on you next. LOL!
Yes!!! I have plenty of pet peeves.......Arrggggh! I am so glad you are doing a series in this area. I am sure that I am going to learn some things from following it.... I am going to send you a few of my "peeves" soon.
Actually here's an entire rant I wrote on the subject some time ago. All of this was inspired by ONE (count it, ONE) novel in which every single one of these came up. I nearly smashed my e-reader against the wall. http://nakedwithoutapen.blogspot.com/20 … -word.html
I am dropping in so late to this party; I can't believe no one has already listed my pet peeve, which is lie/lay. It seems like 99% of the time it is used incorrectly, for example "I was laying on the couch."
When I hear or see that mistake, all I can think of is a person laying eggs on the couch!
In fact, I just saw that mistake today in a newly published hub which landed in my inbox. It is so common, I think it will eventually become the correct usage.
Now I'm all bent out of shape, just from thinking about it. Sheesh! I need to go lay down.
Please tell me which is correct, SmartAndFun. I did not not which was right when I wrote my latest hub so I just left "laying" in there. It didn't feel right but neither did "lieing." I never get this one right. I need to know so I can make the correction, if necessary. Thanks for bringing this one up.
Thank you so much for that clarification and excuse my misspelling of "lying." Ugh!!! Of course I knew this at some point. If you don't use it, you lose it. It is rather complicated and easy to forget. I'm going to go and make the correction in my hub. Thanks again, SmartAndFun.
Great explanation! (I'm an English teacher, by the way.) :-) One of the most confusing things is the past tense of "lie" being "lay," which can also be used as present tense. I can see why people get confused.
It is a difficult one. From what I see (and hear), people almost always use "lay" instead of "lie." I predict "lie" will eventually be considered archaic and "lay" will become the correct usage. Maybe even quite soon.
Oh, surely not! I could never say "lay" instead of "lie." I even taught my dog proper grammar. He knows to "lie down," not "lay down." I don't think we should change the English language just because people don't pay attention to correct grammar. If that's the case, "I seen" will become acceptable. Yes, let's all cringe in horror now. That one grates worse than fingernails on a chalkboard!
I agree! I am with you, but I don't think most people care or know the difference. I think "lay" is taking over and pushing out "lie." Put it in the same bin with "normalcy" and "conversate." Only us grammar nerds care.
I don't think "lie" will be pushed out; it just will never be used as much as "lay." "Conversate" is awful, isn't it? What's wrong with "converse"? People do the same thing with "orient," making it "orientate" instead. Odd.
Jan, It is not surprising you got it wrong. I wrote the hub "Lie, Lay, Laid" and I still need to stop and think and/or refer to it when I'm writing. I think this one is the hardest of all the "lessons" I did.
Smart, I did a Naughty Grammarian hub on "Lie, Lay, or Laid." The reason so many people get these mixed up is because it is really hard to understand when to use each. I had to study it for quite a while to get it straight.
ecogranny: I did a Naughty Grammarian hub on "Is it affect or effect?" A lot of people mix those two up. In fact, it was my first grammar hub. I was never quite sure which one to use. Now I know. It turns out it is pretty simple to get right once you know the former is a verb and the latter is a noun.
The phrase "for all intensive purposes" when the person actually means "for all intents and purposes."
Also (I don't know if this applies for your topic), there is something writers sometimes do in books: beating readers over the head with something. For example, they set up a scenario where a reader can clearly see that a character is upset and then the writer puts in a sentence that says, "he was upset." I loathe that. My first response is, "obviously, do you think I'm an idiot?"
I think the biggest pet peeve of mine is when people switch "our" with "are" and "brought" with "bought". I don't know why that is the most common mistake with some people and it just gives me the chills every time I see or hear someone do this.
it makes me crazy when people end their sentences with "of" or words like that. it also makes me crazy when people misuse words that do not have the same meaning, but sound similar enough to misspell the word. ex. there, their and they're and your and you're.
One of the ladies in our writer's club recently self published her novel. I was a little surprised to see an apostrophe error in her title. I didn't say anything. She used to be a teacher, BTW. Sometimes you can't say anything.
When I hear 'fer' instead of 'for'. I even hear myself say it sometimes, and it drives me crazy. Another one that bothers me is when the 't' is not pronounced and it sounds like, 'cotn' instead of 'cotton'.
I was born in CA and when we moved to CT, my mom would hear me say something the way my new East coast friends would... like Mi'in instead of mitten, or mou'in, instead of mountain... She'd say (over emphasizing the T's) "It's not mi'in, it's mit-ten."
that is highly amusing. i couldn't believe i completely forgot the thing people say which annoys me most of all grammatical and syntactic infractions: People call other people 'that's instead of 'who's or 'whom's! this is completely unacceptable!
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