Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Grammar Police Report

You. Yes you! Step away from the keyboard.  You have the right to remain silent...

Hahaha.  I really love this comic.  Too funny!  

The thing is, that while I often cringe on the inside, I typically don't let my inner grammar police go around pointing out errors.  Socially, it isn't acceptable, and besides, no one likes a know-it-all.  

That being said, I am choosing the passive-aggressive approach, and posting my grammatical pet-peeves here.  :)

In no particular, the Top Three Worst Offenses are as follows:

1.  Your vs. You're.    I see this ALL the time, mostly on FB, which surprises me, seeing as most of the offenders have completed the 2nd grade (when contractions are taught).  I see this offense mostly in replies such as, "Your welcome", which always leaves me wanting to ask, "My welcome what?"  You see, "your" indicates possession.  Your house, your dog, your turn, etc. While "you're" is a contraction of the words You + Are.  It's not really that hard, I promise.  You're smart. You're able to figure this out. You're already catching on.  You're welcome.

2. There, Their, & They're.  Okay, here is the little trick one of my elementary school teachers taught me about which there/their/they're to use.  

They're - is a contraction of the words "They" + "Are".  Test:  __________ so funny.  [They are] fits, hence "they're" is the correct answer.

There - indicates a place.  Where? There!  If you can easily substitute "where" in place of "there", then you know it's correct.  Simply switch out the first letter of the word and voila!   Test: "Where are the beans?"  If you write, "They're are the beans," you are really saying "They are are the beans", which makes no sense.  If you write, "Their are the beans", it seems like a noun is missing and the sentence loses all meaning.  The reader would scratch their heads and wonder,  "Their what are the beans?"  "There are the beans" is the correct use of the word, because it indicates place.  So remember, if you mean to indicate WHERE, swap out the 'W' for a 'T' and spell THERE!

Their - indicates possession.  The easiest way to remember this is to think of  mine or "I" (possession). Their house. Their car. Their way, etc.  So, if it indicates possession, add the 'I'!

3. Two, To & Too.  Okay, right off the bat, I think nearly all native-born English speakers understand that "two" is in reference to the number 2.  Regarding the other two forms - the little mnemonic device I have for is simple.  If something is extreme or in excess, "too hot, too cold, too bad," then you give it another 'O'.  I always think, "TOO many 'O's".  Pretty much all other cases are just "to".  Example: "Once I sat down to think about it, I realized I had to let go of the fact that many people, much to my dismay, will never grasp the proper use of the word, in spite of the fact most went to school.  Isn't that just too sad?"

Here are a few others that seem a bit more confusing.

4. Lay vs. Lie -  The determinant in this case is the subject.  If the subject is being acted upon, it's "lay".  If the subject is doing the action it's "lie".  While we are not talking about "lie" as in the word meaning dishonest, my little trick to know when to use Lie or Lay is, I think: "We lie".  People lie themselves down - they are not being acted upon. I "lie" in bed myself, but I "lay" the baby down.  Sally went to "lie" down. Grammar Girl explains it as "Lay it on me".  If there is an "it" being acted upon, it's lay.  It gets confusing, because the past tense of Lay is Laid, while the past tense of Lie is Lay - but we won't get into that. 

5. Effect vs. Affect.  The quick 'n dirty way I remember this is, A=Action=Affect.  If it doesn't pass that test, it's Effect.  "This will have an effect on your grades." The action word in this sentence is "will have"; effect is a noun, so it's spelled with an 'E'.  "This will affect your grades."  Now the action word is affect, so A=Action=Affect.  A for Action.

6. Further vs. Farther.  Another quick 'n dirty trick to remember this.  Far = measurable, tangible distance.  If you're referring to a measurable, tangible distance, it's "farther".  Otherwise, it's "further".   Test: "John wants to ___________ his career."  In this situation someone may ask, "Well, how far does he want to take his career?"  However, since the degree implied is not tangibly measured, the answer is "John wants to further his career."  The next one:  "How much __________ until we get there."  In this case, we are talking about a tangible, measurable distance, so the answer is farther.  

7. Burned vs. Burnt.  Ok, now I'm just being picky.  I know.  But seriously, this one gets under my skin.  Basically, you have to understand what the difference between Verbs and Adjectives are in order to get this.  So, just to refresh from our Mad Libs writing days, a verb is an action word and an adjective is a word that describes a Noun (person, place or thing).   Burned = past tense Verb.  Burnt = Adjective
"Someone burned the toast."  vs. "We're eating the burnt toast someone made." 
YES: "I got burned when I tried to make burnt peanuts for the festival, while wearing my burnt orange sweater."
NO: "I got burnt when I tried to make burned peanuts for the festival, while wearing my burned orange sweater."
**Unless you're in Canada or the UK.  They pretty much use "-nt" for all past tense verbs.

Oh seriously, I could go on and on and on......  lose vs. loose, choose vs. chose,...  and don't get me started on incorrect pronunciations!

P.S.  It's not REAL-A-TOR!!!  It's just REAL-TOR.  Like REEL + TOR.  2 syllables.  That's it.  I promise.  Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a thousand needles in my eye if I'm wrong!  But I'm not!!!  Look it up!  REEEEEEEEEEL-Tor.  I can forgive you if you say "Reel-Ter" and I can even accept Ree-ul-tor, if you must turn it into 3 syllables.  But, truth be told, it is REAL-TOR, not REAL-A-TOR.  

P.P.S.  This wore me out, I must say.  Perhaps next time we'll get into the fact that it's not EX-CAPE nor EX-Specially, but rather ES-cape and ES-pecially.....


KiennaP said...

I don't no why, but I ain't got a clue what your talking about.

Cassie said...

Haha! I have a hard time with the 'affect' vs 'effect', but that's a nifty hint!!! Anthony was in class and this girl asked, "How do you spell expecially?" And he told her (nice and slow), "E-S-P-E-C-I-A-L-L-Y" and the girl was like, "But it sounds like there's an 'x' in there..." Anthony had to try so hard to no slap her! Ppl r idts ;)