A bit of a twist this week. This is a shout out to all you English teachers out there, including my own parents, who helped turn me into a grammar-Nazi.
Top 5 Grammatical Pet Peeves:
Less and Fewer
It pains me every time I go to the express checkout line to see the phrase “10 Items or Less.” Everyone knows it should be “10 Items or Fewer,” right? It’s simple, really. Less is used with singular nouns; fewer is used with plural nouns.
“John has less money than I do.”
“John has fewer quarters than I do.”
“There is less of a crowd than I expected.”
“There are fewer people than I expected.”
It’s not that hard, people. Maybe someone should write a letter informing these department stores of their grammatical mishaps…
I and Me
It baffles me. I know English teachers spent months of class time on this one concept alone. Yet I still see rampant misuse of the first person pronouns from Facebook posts to political speeches. “I” is subjective; “me” is objective. End of story.
That means whenever you are using a preposition, “me” is the only appropriate first person singular pronoun. It should always be “between you and me,” or “for him and me.” I think people are trying to sound smart by using “you and I” in every situation. I don’t know why, though. To me, it just shows that you don’t know proper English.
The simple rule of thumb is to remove the conjunction. Would anybody say, “He did that for I?” No! Then don’t say, “He did that for you and I.”
The only misuse of “I” and “me” on which I will cut some slack is when a linking verb is in use. The proper use in this case would be, “It is I.” But if someone says, “It is me,” I’ll let that one slide because it’s a bit more confusing to understand.
The Plural “You”
We English speakers cannot help this. Whoever created modern English apparently forgot to include a second person plural pronoun. Thus we are left to develop our own ways of differentiating between singular and plural, which often gives away our region of origin: “You guys” vs. “Y’all.”
Honestly, I’m in favor of “y’all” simply because it is a legitimate contraction…and it’s gender inclusive. Take that, Northerners!
In normal conversation and writing, it’s really not that bad. Usually there are context clues about which form is being used. Where this gets really annoying is in biblical studies. Greek and Hebrew both have a second person plural pronoun which makes it easy to tell whether the author is addressing a crowd or an individual. However, that often important indicator is lost in translation when we read it in English.
I guess we’ll just have to make due until some form of the plural “you” takes over.
Overuse of Similes
My generation is like obsessed with like similes and stuff. It’s like we don’t even to how to like form a complete like coherent thought without like reverting to like similes and like comparisons.
Okay, it’s annoying to even type that way. I guess most people have their filler words, but I know some people who cannot speak an entire sentence without the word “like.” It has become the replacement for nearly every verb in their vocabulary. “I was like…then he was like…and it was all like…” Ugh. How is that any easier than saying, “I said…then he said…and it all rocked my face off?”
Use verbs, people.
Not everything is like something else. Was it like awesome? Or was it awesome?
Possessive vs. Contractions
I know they are homophones, and they are spelled similarly, but there is really no excuse to get this consistently wrong. If it’s that much trouble, then stop using the contractions! It is as simple as that. You won’t sound any less smart, and it will keep you from sounding less intelligent. Just take some time when you’re typing to make sure your pronouns are correct.
I’m not perfect, either. There are words and rules with which I still struggle, especially punctuation rules. You may have found some grammatical errors in this post for all I know. I just wanted to bring these to your attention.
The more I read Facebook and the more conversations I overhear, the more despair I have for the future of my generation.
English teachers, thank you. Keep drilling these rules into our heads. Keep on assigning books to read and essays to write. Hold on to traditional grammar and writing styles as long as we can before we are completely consumed by txt spk.