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Archive for the ‘GrammarGripes (pet peeves)’ Category

The other day, we were reminded of the 1922 novelty song by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn from the Broadway revue Make It Snappy, “Yes! We Have No Bananas.”

In this case, “Yes! We Have No Grammar” might be more appropriate for this Kroger gas station. Here’s the display we had to see while filling up the tank. Ouch!

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Oh my … really? What is our language coming to?

See our series on Nouns gone bad:

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We present, in tribute to our friends over at Apostrophe Abuse, Apostrophe Catastrophes, Apostrophism, and of course Apostrophe Police, the following  …

  • From the Viewing Guide on our Time Warner Cable screen … umbrella’s … really?

  • Guess we should say that … Stand In’s … are from the … credit’s … in the TV show … The Kennedy’s … ???

So, what is it with this tendency to apostrophize plurals? We don’t get it. Do you?

  • Finally, in today’s tribute, we’re still lookin’ for the missin’ apostrophe in this … Surfin … sign.

This is just another example of apostrophailure.

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One of our favorite things to do is shop for office supplies. Imagine our delight at finding this entry in the OfficeMax catalog:

OfficeMax Invisible Tape Dispensers

Are these as as out-of-sight as the OfficeMax Invisible Boxed Tape  that goes in the invisible dispenser?  We just couldn’t see our way clear to order one. Maybe these stealth supplies would make for a very clean desk?

In case you don’t get it, consider these alternatives:

OfficeMax Dispensers for Invisible Tape, and OfficeMax Boxed Invisible Tape. This way, the reader will know that it’s the tape that is invisible, not the dispenser or the box.

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Listen here … The Grammar Police on You Are What You Speak

This week, we had the honor of participating in a radio feature on the national morning radio show, The Takeaway (produced by Public Radio International, WNYC, the BBC, WGBH Boston, and The New York Times). What fun!

The request was for an interview, “… to discuss your issues with language usage and misusage. Should we be trying to stop the world’s grammatical errors? Or should we accept the various misuses as part of our evolving language?”

In addition, Robert Lane Greene, author of “You Are What You Speak,” was the second guest. In his opinion, language policing is often just about supporting class, ethnic and national prejudices. 

Check it out … and, thanks for listening!

Listen here … The Grammar Police on You Are What You Speak

P.S. This book is now required reading for our GrammarGuard and recommended reading for our GrammarGuild and other followers.

P.P.S. Click here to read about what started the feud with Hanes …

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Goodness … here’s a note from a reader:

This is my latest grammar gripe. It has grown into an obsession. The first time I recall hearing this was in high school (almost 20 years ago), and I now hear it more and more frequently. It makes me want to scream. Have you heard this one? It clearly stems from the hypercorrection of “me” into “I” which seems to be more common these days. People seem to default to “I” even in situations when “me” is correct, such as in, “Please let Chris or I know…..” UGH. So now, it turns into, “This is Chris and I’s issue.” REALLY? Chris and I’s? As far as I can tell, “I’s” is not an appropriate possessive. I was griping about this one day with my equally nerdy grandmother, and she swore up and down that no one says this and I must have misheard. Never mind the fact that I’ve heard this repeatedly, on TV, on the radio (just heard it in an interview on This American Life! To be fair, it wasn’t said by a journalist; it was someone being interviewed), and in person. She said, oh no, no one would say that. HA! So I am curious – have you heard this too? Does it make you as insane as it makes me?

-Elise, an incorrigible grammarian just outside Philadelphia

Elise, all we can say is: yes, Yes, and YES!!!

Dear readers, please see our previous posts: I is not an object … and A note to Felicity …

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This has been bugging us since the advertising campaign began a while ago. TBS, the cable channel, is perpetuating awful grammar with their slogan:

“more movie … less commercials.”

We caught this grammar gaffe during tonight’s showing of the wonderful movie The School of Rock.

We love the movie, however, it was an insult to our senses having this slogan displayed on the screen throughout. We went for the DVD.

Therefore, we are going to shamelessly steal from our earlier post: Less is not always more … and may continue to do so until correctness catches on.

OK, everybody repeat after us …

I will use “less” for amounts that cannot be counted as discrete items, such as water, sunshine, and money.

I will use “fewer” for numbers of items that can be counted as discrete items, such as drops of water, rays of sunshine, dollar bills, and … of course, commercials!

Get it? Got it. Good!

See our other previous post on this topic: Limit less …

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Several years ago, an article in an airline magazine, “Nouns Gone Bad,” really hit home with us.

It discussed the phenomenon of using nouns as verbs, and the growing prevalence of this practice.

A recent tweet (on Twitter) reminded us of this ever-growing trend …

“There is a poor grammar jesus bumper sticker collection on a van. I want to at least ‘Sharpie‘ it so it makes sense.”

You may know that a Sharpie® is a marker made by Sanford. Many professional athletes (and other celebs) use these markers for signing autographs. The pens have many other uses, and we confess to having what must be one of the largest collections of Sharpie® pens around (all colors, widths, point-types, and styles – literally, in buckets in the office). But we digress …

There is an interesting paper called “THE ENVIRONMENTAL STYLE” that was written in 2005 by R.P. Detwiler, NASA Office of General Counsel, in which this trend is addressed. Detwiler uses the examples: partner, team, dialogue, and task.

Have you heard (or used) these nouns as verbs? Maybe, in instances like (yes, we mean “like,” not “such as,” here):

  • Let’s partner on this venture.
  • How about we team up to find the solution?
  • We can dialogue about that topic.
  • My boss likes to task us with many jobs.

There are many other examples. There are even uses that are not primarily business-related:

  • Do you know anyone who likes to go antiquing?
  • The cops Tasered a stuffed animal the other day. (see the story)
  • That recent study really impacted our lives.
  • Did he transition from runner to cyclist?
  • Will picnicked during the soccer game.

These days, use of the Internet provides us with the opportunity to perpetuate this bent:

  • Ooh, let’s Google that …

So, now we add “Sharpie” to our list of nouns gone bad.

What are your offenders?

Be sure to see our related posts:

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Last year, we entered a brief blog post on this subject as our Grammar goof of the day. It went like this:

 Seen in a National workforce report: “… top performers are the ones that will become invaluable … through the economic downturn.” Should be: who 

Apparently, our preference and our usage reflects a strict adherence to an interpretation of the reference to animate vs. inanimate nouns* (see usage note below), and even more strictly, distinguishing human animateness from other life-like forms. 

Yikes, that’s confusing! What do we mean? Simply, we like who for any reference to people and that for any reference to things (or animals).  

We did some research …

WHO –pronoun; possessive whose; objective whom.

1. what person or persons?: Who did it?
2. (of a person) of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.: Who does she think she is?
3. the person that or any person that (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent): It was who you thought.
4. (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent, the antecedent being a person or sometimes an animal or personified thing)** (see comment below): Any kid who wants to can learn to swim.
 
THAT –pronoun and adjective, plural those; adverb; conjunction –pronoun
 
1. (used to indicate a person, thing, idea, state, event, time, remark, etc., as pointed out or present, mentioned before, supposed to be understood, or by way of emphasis): That is her mother. After that we saw each other.
2. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, referring to the one more remote in place, time, or thought; opposed to this): This is my sister and that’s my cousin.
3. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, implying a contrast or contradistinction; opposed to this): This suit fits better than that.
4. (used as the subject or object of a relative clause, esp. one defining or restricting the antecedent, sometimes replaceable by who, whom,  or which): the horse that he bought.
5. (used as the object of a preposition, with the preposition standing at the end of a relative clause): the farm that I spoke of.
6. (used in various special or elliptical constructions): fool that he is.
  
*Usage note: That is used to refer to animate and inanimate nouns and thus can substitute in most uses for who(m) … Many of the workers that (or who) built the pyramids died while working.
  
**Comment: Experienced writers choose among these forms not only on the basis of grammar and the kind of noun referred to but also on the basis of sound of the sentence and their own personal preference.

So, we were humbled by our research and although we are pleased to have Grammar Girl on our side, we will let up on those (people) who that choose to use that in certain references to humans.

 

What is your preference?

References: dictionary.com, Grammar Girl, Chicago Manual of Style, Prentice Hall Reference Guide, The Gregg Reference Manual

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Dear Felicity,

Please see our post: I is not an object …

You have provided several examples to ask your one question. This makes the answer more complex than the one word responses you received on the Web site.

What you ask is, effectively, which should be used as a subject, I or me? “Betty and I (subject) are going out.” is correct here. “Betty and me are going out.” is incorrect. It is not surprising to us that you have heard incorrect usage on TV. We could likely make a living correcting grammatical misuse on TV.

Now, when you move on to your … “Or join Betty and me.” you have changed the question … this is correct because, as we mentioned in our earlier post, “I is not an object …” In this case, me is correctly used as an object.

BTW, we recommend spell checking the title of your post: “… English/grammer

Thank you for your (unknowing) contribution to our blog.

Sincerely,

GrammarCops

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