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It was hilarious in a good way. He or she is extremely clunky, and many people get really weird about the sexist implications of hypothetical situations they should get over it. Any thoughts? Using adjectives instead of adverbs is an all-too common error. How much leeway should writers have for dramatic effect? Some acronyms are pronounced as a word, though.
Oakland as what? I also think that blogging in particular is a forgiving medium and can be more casual. I just did it in the above paragraph. Brian made this point in one of those articles I linked to… the first, I think. It sounds weird to me, but so do a lot of these the first time I hear them. After an adjective we use adverbs with a few exceptions some of which are the verb to be, get, feel etc. If the sentence were ha!
Would you say:. It, along with canned laughter, should die. Good post. Thanks for the tips. Marc — I actually had a bit in here about that but removed it because it was going off topic. You might want to chalk it up to regional pronunciations. My Texan grandparents did that a lot. If badly modifies feel then it seems to imply you have problems emoting. And regardless of strict correctness which is sometimes very often in the eye of the beholder , usage generally wins out in the end. That said, generally speaking, here in the US people generally seem use adjectives instead of adverbs.
I smell well means I have a good sniffer. Preach it! Great info, but I have to take issue with the subjunctive point. Good lord, those last two lines sound insane when I read them back in my head. I am fishing. I will be fishing. Marc, not correct. Great post. Thank you for pointing out the subtlety of using articles. Another easy way to improve grammar naturally is to read classic literature or just books in general.
The more you read a certain language being used correctly, the more likely you will use it correctly as well. At least, this is my experience. But when I write for one magazine client in particular, they always change that to the following on editing:. I try to avoid it or alternate. Interestingly, I was reading the blogs of several noted professional copyeditors earlier this week, and two items struck me:. Keep in mind, language at least, English is a living language, and to try to proscribe any changes is a losing proposition.
Phil — I set a trap for anyone who disagreed with me. It just feels sloppy to me. An Historical post! I were going to write about this, but you literally took it right out from under me! So now Tom, Darren, and myself will have to come up with something totally better! Lack of the serial comma makes me nuts in AP style. Like you, I much prefer it for clarity. It drives me crazy to see bad grammar in blogs — I know I do it too, but it still drives me nuts!
Marc — You guys put mayonnaise on French fries. Now THAT makes you sound like a chimp! In that way they would understand how so many of us are offended when writers use adjectives instead of adverbs. Very well done. Everyone needs this. I am not a huge stickler for grammar but reading poor grammar reduces the impact of any article. I think I will have…chocolate ice cream! For example, correct use of commas around clauses always results in the comma-surrounded clause being able to be removed from the sentence with the sentence still having valid structure.
Check out this one…. It is a preposition! Its only for loosers. Johnny- Hooray! For years, I learned that you keep it, until I got to college and took a bunch of journalism classes. It most certainly is the AP that marks out the final comma of a list, but only in certain situations. Those poor punctuation marks are so abused. We should get together and talk about that mad affiliate cash you just sent me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Or at least, sigh loudly. He makes a good point. I love it when you figure out that something is correct, and so you use it correctly.
I hate that. Very useful article. I share your thoughts on literally. The word is getting rapped in The Netherlands as well. I probably do a Britney myself now and then. Everyone needs to have these rules burned into their brains. I recently saw a preview of a new gardening magazine. It had beautiful images, creative layout and fonts, and mistakes. Score one for everyone who actually notices these things.
This article was great. Enjoy, and please me any really egregious ones you guys see! I did Johnny. You could have tied your old picture in with a new one for this article ; a picture with you and your twitter nuts running from the hall monitor. Most everyone realizes their mistake and we have a good laugh. Is perfectly ok to write. I love being a grammar nitpicker, but I also love breaking the rules for the sake of vernacular style.
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You might consider not being an annoying spoilsport. Paul oratorio. Not sure why. Obviously, if you could care less, then you care. Very elegantly done. As one poster noted, 2 about the plural they is incorrect. I have been hearing this quite a bit lately. Regarding 2: This is also on our list of most common grammatical errors. Our advice to clients and students is as follows: if you are referring to people in general, not to a specific person, make the subject plural.
In English, there are some situations where the a very strict interpretation of the rules results in MORE confusion, not less. Copyblogger covered some situations a while back where you can and should bend the rules, because the confusion it would otherwise cause is greater. Their examples, with which I agree completely, are:. Anyway — thanks for the grammar talk. You can always count on your grammar geeks to jump in on something like this, J.
Two strippers were all over ME. You can never say two strippers were all over I; thus you can never say two strippers were all over Jim and I. I, myself, believe that if I were to spend an hour or two thinking of all the grammatical pet peeves that I have, the list would be practically endless.
Your comparisons with monosyllabic words are irrelevant. Wells F. Scott Fitzgerald Edith Wharton W. Auden George Orwell C. Ken, I disagree on the milk. It comes in half-gallon containers. I came here to say exactly what Laroquod and others said. English is a constantly evolving language. The rules do change over time. Oh, and thank you Russ for the note about unaccented first syllables. Just saying. Nothing will kill your copy quicker than trying to always follow the rules here. The problem with these sorts of rules is that almost none of us is capable of writing perfectly all the time.
But too many people are language snobs who dredge up the same few rules too many of which are based on an extremely shaky understanding of the language to look down their noses at others. Your five explanations were great. However, I like to think of myself as more of an orangutan than a chimp. Umm, what? We mean men and women. Using the man as the universal gender produces shorter sentences and maintains historical continuity.
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I hope they are friendly. Historical continuity is important on many levels, let us not forget. May I ask what your statement is based on? Is this something you believe to have encountered, or something you read was true? Just curious. Are you sure you want to agree with the language geeks at the NYTimes who posted this recent On Language column? Others have pointed out that lots of people use they I use it myself, but this is definitive evidence that your point 2 is actually wrong.
DISagree, not agree. Edit my comment if you like, post this one as well, whichever you prefer.
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I see some previous comment posters made that same mistake. I agree that each of these points are irritating. I get so annoyed with people that my blood pressure rises! But still. Awesome post, Johnny. Notice how the meaning of the statement changes with each relocation of the word. Now he knows it bothers me so much, he does it just to play up. All are absolutely correct of course, excepting the last one. Whilst you are technically correct, it is extremely pedantic! Too further correct you, practically would have the same implication in the stated sentence if one follows the same pedantic rules.
Thank you for reviewing these common grammar mistakes. Now someone will come around and offer to help me evolve. Ok, to review…. I live and work at home, so, if I were at work, I would also be was at work. Does that work? I blog in English, which is my second language, and have a fear of making stupid mistakes which I never make in my first language. Any tips and wisdom, like in this post, helps.
John, Jim, Jack and Jill were suppose to get equal shares of an estate.
And yet this article — like so many articles on prescriptivist grammar — sounds like it was written by someone with a very poor understanding of linguistics and not a very good understanding of grammar, either. Language change. Marking for the subjunctive has been on the way out for some time. I myself think you the author literally knew what they was doing when they wrote such An historic article about grammar. Wow, Brian, you caught a typo! You can pat yourself on the back now! Haha, yes to all of the above…yes to them making you sound like a chimp, not to actually committing these grammar violations.
Somehow people think they are interchangeable when one is a comparison and one references the passing of time. That one drives me bananas. Are you Meg? Sorry to break the news. Let the language grow! In other words, there should be no ambiguity. Too often, lack of thought about even small issues can result in clouded meanings and ambiguity. One other strange thing … most of the things that make me seethe when the language gets mangled like this are things that I can work out in much the same way that as they are in the examples given here.
Sorry, I thought this was a comment box, not a canvas.
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I left my oil paints at home. But no worries! But yes, that was me, Meg who lists no website, but mostly because I was being lazy tonight, as well as perhaps uncharacteristically sarcastic. What can I say, prescriptivism makes me cranky. Still… sore spot. I was not looking for typos in this article. You said cawtcha instead of caught you! I really enjoyed reading this article. Glad I know better! I can think of a lot more, including commonly misspelled words, so you may have just inspired me to write my own blog post on the fine arts of a grammar freak.
Great job! Parsons, and myself. Uh uh…. I forgot how much fun this could be. But, the discussions above about sometimes yes, sometimes no make the most sense. I tell graduate students now that that last comma is a matter of taste, but I still use it. Nobody is perfect. Might try taking your own advice, Diane!
Grammar posts are comment magnets every time. Either will distract the reader and muddy your efforts to clearly communicate your ideas. If I were — something that is never going to happen. If I was — something that could happen. For example:. Great piece. One that always trips me up is the use of adverbs. Probably yes, but it can lead to some cumbersome sentences. Regardless, good to see there are at least others on this blog who also suffer a language pedantry affliction.
Will we ever recover? I just did a little research, which I should have done before asking my question! I found this stated in several websites. In there was a push for gender neutral pronouns worldwide, not just in America and the other countries mentioned above. Then in the 19th Century the tide turned again. It was started by a feministed school teacher. Sometimes a gender is evident and then the appropriate pronoun is used. Now why did I take the time to go into the information above?
I wanted to make a few points. So you can understand, most likely, why people are still using it at the present, even though it is considered incorrect by many grammarians. Finally, I wanted to say that finding a good solution for a universal pronoun is difficult for many. I find the invented pronouns just plain goofy! Take the article with a grain of salt. The only rule is that the rules will change over time… so to speak. This is but a snapshot of a language in motion, and with English spoken all over the world, cannot be accurate in every context. We no longer use the same English language that we used in the 10th century, or the 16th century.
If someone is obsessive over using perfectly correct grammar, it could actually HINDER them from communicating effectively. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how popular these grammar discussions are. Reading the comments here has led me to ask about one other aggravation though this comes from my punctuation wench, not from from grammar wench , and it is this: when did it become acceptable for people to cease using question marks when asking a question?
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What is that about? This distresses me. Cheers, all! Whilst in confession mode, I also split my infinitives if I think it makes a sentence read better and I regularly abuse dashes and points of elipsis. Why do English teachers in school find it very difficult to teach the subjunctive mood of the verb to their students? Yet you explained it very well and made it so easy to understand!
Great write-up! I, too, am obsessed in finding grammatical errors on blogs though, of course, at times, I make mistakes, too. Gives me the shivers just writing it. Well, I must admit I am a little nervous to leave a comment that will be full of bad grammar and punctuation. Some bloggers insist that grammar is not that important, but that a little bad grammar shows their personality. So, good for you! By the way, one of my weaknesses is using commas everywhere and way too much…maybe you can do an article on punctuation next time!
Like other parts of language, punctuation is also subject to change. I particularly like the interrobang. At last. I now feel free to move forward with my life. The relevant grammar rule is that a pronoun should agree in number with its antecedent. Why am I still reading this blog I ask myself. I should be asleep. Please stop posting — I need to be up in four hours …. Myself is going to the mall. Sam and I are going to the mall. I am going to the mall. I literally love this! Great visuals!
I then blame in on my journalism degree and the faculty supervisor that ripped my writing to shreds when I wrote for the Oklahoma Daily many years ago. A couple of other pet peeves come to mind: unique and first annual. Unique means one of a kind. Feel free us use that sentence in any post about overused metaphors. Thanks, Jan.
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It is evolving constantly and things that were not okay a long time ago, seem to be acceptable now. My partners English is not good, but my maths are lousy and he is a whiz on that score. Anyone got any help on that one. It is a source of amusement between the two of us. It sounds fine and makes perfect sense to everyone reading it. Then let me be the first to say you are nitpicking. Drew : I shall give it a go.
Thank you for the learning, Johnny. Best regards, P. I require constant reminders although I excelled in grammar in my youth and even worked as a junior editor years ago. I appreciate that you cover a few common errors to brush up on, rather than a long list that is likely to blur together. The best tip I ever received from an editor: If you do not have access to an editor have anyone read your piece before publishing. Any sentence they stumble on should be checked for errors, or simplified if none found.
If your guinea pig stumbles, others will too even if the grammar is officially correct. Lachy: There already is such a blog. If nothing else, I can vouch for the latter meaning. Just read through any rulebook published by White Wolf Games. BTW, I remember being taught in grammar school that putting oneself last in a list of people was considered polite.
My personal pet language peeve is semantic rather than grammatical. Meg: whether or not a question is rhetorical has precious little read: nothing to do with punctuation. Else, they are statements. End of story. Work on points for style later — get the message across first. Have to disagree on 2. The more general point about subject-verb agreement is important, though. Certainly there are rules that apply in any situation but language is a living, breathing thing and must be flexible.
Contractions can help your writing sound more natural. I encounter this in almost every article I edit. Just kidding, sort of. Thanks for sharing. Only better. Dump the rest, as in the pretentious subjunctive and the cumbersome he or she construction to make subject-predicate agreement work. Andy Wood : I get the gist of your post and mostly agree. If I had to choose one thing to judge the merits of a piece of writing, it is the quality of the content, not the grammar. If you use perfect English and your writing is repetitive, boring or borders on plagiarism, then correct verb-subject agreement means little to me.
Other elements of communication are far more important. Are you all so picky about it? To think that two nations, over a period of more than years, would develop separations in their common language… unthinkable! We may have a lot of bad habits in this country, but I daresay that the English currently spoken in Great Britain is a far cry from the English that was spoken there years ago. In many dialects, it is already just about equivalent — regardless of how much it annoys you.
Something else will take its place or has. Semantic shift happens in every living language. In the medical world, this is something that would require the use of suppositories. Anyone else bothered by this one? While I guess literally is used accurately in these cases, it just seems unnecessary most of the time. A worthy cause indeed for those writers who take pride in their craft to rise up and counter the onslaught of excuses for poor grammar—from just being conversational to Blackberry and text language. It has been said that education is expensive, but not as expensive as ignorance.
With these writing habits becoming widely acceptable, what will be the cost? Funny, though, how some terms become used by the medical community and lose their other meanings. It has been relatively stable even since ancient Latin times. In all seriousness, this article was practical and I was able to put it to use immediately. A hundred times, thank you! I like what Johnny had wrote. Its literally earth shaking. We all gots things we could get improved on with grammar. Irregardless: if you had went to look up a lot of this stuff you would have saw that its rite.
By the way, for those taking notes, notice how much more attention this post gets from Johnny not trying to have the entire discussion in the post. Sure, some of these are subject to regional variation or can be argued for as common usage. Sonia — Exactly. I do not know everything.
There are as many people vehemently fighting on one side of an issue as there are on the other. Chimps are funny. This post is currently the ninth most popular post on Copyblogger, ranking by number of comments and pingbacks. That makes me happy. If you have been given suppositories for your impacted wisdom tooth, you need to change your dentist. Funny, because it is improperly used so often.
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Subjects, verbs, nouns, reflexive, etc…. Thanks for the refresher. Great bit. That advice seems to help them break the habit! I hear it everywhere. Sometimes it makes me want to scream at the person talking. Come to Australia for a visit. Gimmier lickerish trap an some chicken-an look, fellers, no hens. The best thing is to have a sense of humour and thanks for some of the hilarious input. For all intensive purposes, I hardly never sound like a chimp. Chocano pointed to recent comments from the comedian Patton Oswalt, who thinks anyone should be able to say whatever they want in order to free the rest of us to identify bigotry.
They need me to address this. Stock identities have always been a part of American humor, said Chocano. How, she asked the panelists, do you engage your identity to subvert those stereotypes? Comedians need to learn their lessons, said Amini. And if you make jokes that are racist or sexist, it will catch up with you. Wong said that shaming can be powerful. Krefting said that comedians need to be held to the same standards of political correctness as the rest of us. Another audience member asked if election humor can build bridges between communities, pointing to a Tom Hanks Saturday Night Live skit that he felt was educational in terms of building solidarity between black and white working-class Americans.