Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Things that are Bugging Me More & More Lately: The Grammar Edition

We all have things that drive us crazy. And we all do things that drive other people crazy. It’s called “being human”. I for one am all over the being human thing, and do my best to let others be human in their own ways.

However, there are some things that people just really shouldn’t do. They shouldn’t do these things for two reasons. First, these things are wrong. Second, when enough people do these wrong things on a regular enough basis, they become accepted as right things.

I have given up on hearing the word “culinary” pronounced correctly outside of my own home. My sister is beginning to feel the same way about “foyer”. Granted, we were raised to set our sights high, but there comes a time when the towel must be thrown in for the sake of sanity.

So I let “kuhl-uh-naree” go when I hear it these days. It’s just not worth it. The rest of this post is dedicated to the things that I will let go only when my dying breath forces me to conserve my strength long enough to tell my loved ones how much they mean to me. The gloves are off now. I am far too annoyed to continue ignoring any of the following:

Things That Are Just Not Right

EVERYDAY – This is not the group of seven that forms a week. This is an adjective. It means “commonplace”. You can do something in an everyday manner, but you do not do it everyday, you do it every day.

ACCEPTED vs. EXCEPTED – Frankly I find it really disturbing to see these two words misused as often as I do since, not only are the spellings completely different, they do not mean even close to the same thing. You do not except things the way they are, you accept them. Or, you can take exception and not accept them. If you’re feeling particularly feisty, you can accept all of them except the exceptions which do not merit your acceptance.

DEFINATELY – This is not a word. Please stop using it as though it is. Whatever it is you are referring to is not definate, it is definite. Definitely definite.

IRREGARDLESS – Webster’s, Oxford, and can all kiss my grammatically conscientious ass. This is not “nonstandard”, this is not “informal”, this is just wrong. Stop putting labels on it that make it sound like it’s okay to use under the right circumstances. It isn’t. Ever.

Words That Are Not Verbs

Here’s a hint to help you determine if a word is a verb; if you can’t add “ed” to the end of it to use it in the past tense, it probably isn’t. Now, this rule won’t always apply, but a little bit of common sense will take you a long way with words like:

WORKOUT – You can do an aerobic workout, but you do not workout aerobically. You work out. You did not workouted this morning. You worked out.

BACKUP – You make a backup copy. You have a backup plan. You do not backup your data, you back up your data. You did not backupped your data last week.

LOGIN – You have a login ID. You did not just use it when you loginned to your account. You logged in using your login. You will log in again tomorrow, using the same login.

Is That Your Welcome?

YOUR vs. YOU’RE – These are not interchangeable. One is about ownership. One is about a state of being. When in doubt, talk it out. Do you mean “YOU ARE welcome/great/silly/an asshole”? Then use “you’re”. I know, it’s another letter and an apostrophe. As you suffer through those extra keystrokes, take a moment to gloat. That’s your right when you’re right.

ITS vs. IT’S – see above.

THEIR vs. THERE vs. THEY’RE – A little more tricky, but really, how difficult is it to keep them straight?
Their – belonging to them
There – in that place
They’re – they are, again with the apostrophe being a none-too-subtle giveaway

This concludes today’s episode of Things that are Bugging Me More & More Lately. Please feel free to leave your own personal grammar pet peeves in the comments.


  1. i asked jerry about this one of the evenings we were druping: when you end a sentence with a quote, do you put the period inside the quotes, or outside? we both agreed that unless the quote ended with a period, you put the period on the outside, because it just makes sense.

    i guess this kind of goes against your rants, since technically, it's "supposed" to be the other way around. :/

  2. I ALWAYS put my punctuation outside of my quotes. The quotation marks are there to enclose whatever I'm quoting, and the punctuation is there to enclose the sentence. So, no, that certainly doesn't go against anything I rant against or believe.

  3. Right on, I do dig this one! I mess up the "everyday" and "every day" almost every day, but I'm trying not to make an everyday thing of it. ;)

  4. The fact that you actually know the difference well enough to joke about it means you are far from a lost cause, my friend ;)

  5. I have stayed up far too late today reading your blog, and am absolutely loving it. The grammar rule that drives me the looniest is "affect" vs. "effect". And I keep seeing it EVERYWHERE. I saw it on a website at work - specifically, the one for creating help tickets for computer problems. I thought I was going to cry.

  6. You know, it's funny you should cite that particular example in that context. You may get a chuckle out of this

    The one that I've been seeing more and more often is people talking about "baited breath". Well, folks, stop eating worms. Problem solved.