Call the (Grammar) Police!!

There will be those who will look at this title and turn their attention quickly to recipes or sports statistics. Someone’s going to say I’m too picky.  Some will use the cliché, “You have too much time on your hands.”  But along with today’s acceptance of poor taste in clothing and behavior is that of incorrect punctuation and grammar, whether written or spoken.

Here is a teeth-grinder:  “The man gave a ticket to her and I.”   Look, he would give one to her, but no way would you say he gave one “to I.”  He gave one to her and he gave one to me.  TO her and TO me.   “I” is out of the question!  Likewise, you would not say “Me and him (or him and me) went fishing.”  Chop that sentence up.  You would NEVER say “Me went fishing” or “Him went fishing!”  Now, I just know you wouldn’t say that.  Would you?  Nah.   I went and he went. 

Anyways – there is no such word other than what dictionaries call “dialect - nonstandard,” just as it does for the word, “ain’t.”   It certainly does not qualify as an introduction to a thought such as, “ANYWAYS, I didn’t want to go.”  A forum I once visited said, “The word "anyways" is found in some dialects in the United States, but it is not standard English, and it should never be used in any situation where you want to be considered reasonably well educated.”  But then there are those who don’t want to seem reasonably well-educated, so for them “anyways” is okay.  It is not nor ever has been a part of the southern dialect that I can recall except when it was introduced by TV and movies. 

How much is “alot?”  It must not be much, as my Spell Check immediately corrected my efforts to put those two words together.  Somewhere along the way, perhaps twenty years ago, students began combining “a” and “lot” to make one word.  “I like him alot.”  It has been used in high school research papers along with b/c for “because” and w/o for “without.”  It is amazing how careless (meaning “couldn’t care less”) and apathetic students have become and for what reasons. 

Apostrophes don’t show Possession!  The word means something belongs to something or someone.  Someone needs to make up a game in which participants try to make the longest list of the misuse of apostrophes.  Take “it’s” – that’s with an apostrophe, That word can only be used if you mean, “It is.”  It does not possess anything here, It just IS.  If it does possess something, then it is “its.”  I remember a long-time bait shop on a busy Conway street.  It had a large sign on the front that stayed very visible to visitors for many years. It proclaimed “minnow’s!” and “worm’s!” and “cricket’s!”  As a youngster firmly and surely taught English by the incomparable Miss Eloise Rhode, I knew even then that those critters never possessed anything but perhaps a short life ending on a hook.

 Plural.  It means more than one thing.  One does not use an apostrophe to make a plural!  A friend says, “I saw a sign at a business a few weeks ago that said "Come in and see our new package's." Someone wasted ink putting that apostrophe in there.  Again, only those who didn’t learn in school do this.  I can see an error in a garage sale sign done in Magic Marker, but from a professional sign maker?  Perhaps not as much time is able to be spent in school on grammar, punctuation, conjugation of verbs, sentence modes, etc. because of the pressures of standardized testing.  My friend says, “This misuse and ignorance of how to use our very own language has made its way into college classrooms!

Some more pet peeves? 

·         “Has went” instead of “has gone.” 

·         “We have ate” instead of “have eaten.”

·         A recent one is “Are you done yet?”  ‘Tis another thing coming in from ‘way out somewhere north, east, south or west of Conway via TV and movies and population influx as I never heard this used by the general population in this vicinity until the last 5 years.  Conway schools and colleges taught the more accepted “finished” or “through.” 

·         Adding a “th” at the end of “height.”  Just say “hite.”

·         Using “ideal” instead of “idea.”  Ideal means perfect.  Idea is a thought!

·         This last one must be tough to learn.  At no time will you ever find someone “laying in the street” or “paper laying on the ground.”  Those two things will be lying in the street and on the ground every time.  Now, a hen and her egg is another story, but you’ll have to ask her about that.

Irritating usages?  Here’s just one:  The used car TV ad delivered by the company owner who shouts, “WE’VE GOT CARS!  WE’VE GOT TRUCKS!  WE’VE GOT SUV’S!  as if listeners are deaf and would expect them to be selling anything else (not to mention that “have” and “got” don’t go well together)!  A simple statement of “We have cars, trucks, and SUV’s,” (still not a surprise at an auto company) will do.  I won’t get into local merchants making their own TV pitches and pronouncing “you” as “yew.”    No, I won’t do that.

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Budnmud
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Budnmud 10/12/09 - 07:51 am
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Huh?

Jeet jet?

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Terri Powers 10/12/09 - 12:02 pm
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Alot

Defined by the Urban Dictionary: "Alot ~ A combination of "a" and "lot." A word that actually exists; but since it isn't found in dictionaries it drives people up the wall. Alot of words are considered ungrammatical before they are sanctioned."

I definitely have too much time on my hands...

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boucher 10/12/09 - 03:14 pm
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Great Article

I loved the article. Everytime I get smug about these rules I read something I've written and find an error, or at least a misuse or a question. I share the pet peeves and would add "orientate" (is that a word) and "horrific", which is an adjective? Or maybe the objective case of something else? Whoa!

David McCollum
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David McCollum 10/12/09 - 04:22 pm
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I'm for elimination of the

I'm for elimination of the apostrophe (kind of like Andy confiscating Barney's bullet) because it is misused far more than it is used correctly — and I'm seen it among teachers and top students at various colleges. A school official recently sent out some info about a boy's basketball game and I asked him if this was something different because according to the grammar, only one boy would be playing.

I've always also wondered why again is not a good enough word to stand on its own without have once in front of it.

And I know. This newspaper has done more than its share of misusing the apostrophe.

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Vivian Lawson Hogue 10/12/09 - 07:03 pm
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You are on the same page with

You are on the same page with me, David! How could I have forgotten "once again?" We'll put it in the pile of what I call air fillers including "at the end of the day" and "exa-actly." The guilt of errors would have to be shared with TV, however, as I have heard some astonishing gaffs there. (e.g. Alzheimer research commercial with spokesman pronouncing it "All-timers? How did that pass editing?) It is no wonder that wrong spellings and usages become prevalent until the dictionaries are forced to include them! I do not see this in magazines, so I assume they have more time to proof and edit.

David McCollum
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David McCollum 10/12/09 - 09:04 pm
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We've allowed television and

We've allowed television and business to an extent to establish popular usages and the fortresses of proper grammar and word usage are being overrun like a garden with weeds.
Unfortunately, I've heard All-timers used more than Alzheimer's.
I'm afraid the day is coming that college papers will read like text messages and a whole generation of kids will not realize that ur is not the correct spelling for your.
And my thing about the apostrophe is the whole concept is not hard once you learn about two basic principles. It's a lot easier than figuring out how to connect a computer to a monitor or a printer or a television to a DVD player.

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Joe Mosby 10/13/09 - 11:42 am
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Excess verbiage

This is veering a little off Vivian's topic, but I once covered a school board meeting in a small town, not in Faulkner County. The agenda issue was some hot potato, and the superintendent opened by saying, "Let us commence at the initial beginning."

David McCollum
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David McCollum 10/13/09 - 12:43 pm
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We had an official in

We had an official in Faulkner County long ago who wanted to make pending legislation retroactive and he said the group needed to make it "radioactive." Maybe he wanted to make it untouchable, I don't know.

Tammie McClure
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Tammie McClure 10/13/09 - 12:54 pm
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Magazine

You mentioned not seeing these errors much in magazines. I worked at a magazine and they do have more time to proof and we had several proof readers. It was my job to proof for the Web after several other people had already proofed the material. And I did sometimes catch mistakes. We are all human and our brains do tend to 'fix' the incorrect words as we read.

I have even witnessed grammar errors in actual best selling novels before. So no one is above making these sorts of errors, but purposeful misuse of grammar is irritating, especially the use of "text speak" in writing by the younger generations. I have a 14-year-old and I am always correcting him about using things like "LOL" in a handwritten letter to his great aunts.

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Vivian Lawson Hogue 10/15/09 - 12:26 pm
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Misused words

A friend asked me to mention that we have left out one of the top offenders - "irregardless." By using it, one actually says sort of the opposite of what one intends to say. It is another one of those "nonstandards" listed in the dictionary. I have also had mention of the difference between "stationery" and "stationary." They are different unless you want to write graffiti (as in writing on paper) on someone's exercise (stationary)bike and send it via UPS. Stationery is paper you write on, where something stationary stays in one place.

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