Category Archives: Word Choice Errors

She got what she deserved.

What’s the worst thing that could happen to someone who uses bad grammar?

A low grade on a paper?  A mocking post on this blog?  A scolding from a nearby grammarian?

Oh, it could be worse.  You could find yourself face to face with James Westfall and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater.

This is my new favorite entry on my new favorite Web site, fmylife.com:

Today, I was flirting via text with a coworker. Things started getting heated, and I wanted to send her a sexy picture. I asked if she had any suggestions. She said, “Your nuts!” She meant, “YOU’RE nuts.” I sent her a photo of my junk. I offended a co-worker with incriminating evidence. FML

Okay.  We know this guy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.  Anyone knows you don’t send naked pictures to someone you barely know.  And I’m going to assume that these two people are over the age of 18, because if not, that’s a different issue altogether.  Assuming they both are above the age of consent,

That girl got exactly what she deserved.

She mixed up “your” and “you’re” and thus was blinded with an image of the least attractive part of the male anatomy, an image that will likely stick in her mind for quite a long time.

It’s kind of like shock therapy, don’t you think?

(And, for the record, I feel like I need to say this to clueless straight guys of the world: No girl in her right mind will ever ask you for a picture of your nuts if she wants to be turned on.  ANY other body part is understandable — NEVER the nuts.  If she does, that’s a red flag.  She’ll probably be forwarding it to her friends and laughing at you.)

What do you think?  Did this girl get what she deserved?

Epic Grammar Feud

Wow.  I just discovered an intense feud over grammar between members of the “Good Grammar Is Hot” group on Facebook.

It started with the posting of this picture:

As you can guess, it got a lot of jeers from the members of the group.

Well, it didn’t end there.

Davin joined the conversation.  You can read the whole thing here if you’re on Facebook, but if you’re not, here are some of the highlights:

From Davin:

just because i dont feel as if i need to use perfect grammar in a facebook status u people decide to roast me wow you guys seriously are a bunch of uptight fags but if it makes u feel any better imma english major with perfect grades i just chose to perfect english for class and would rather use slang and or inappropriate use of terms for more social occasions like facebook oh yeah Imma so stab you in your fucking face with a spork for posting this shit u know that right and yes bitches i used u instead of you so bite me on my caramel colored ass

From Luke:

Is there such a thing as a descriptionary? If so I would very much like to get my hands on one, if not it’s a fantastic idea that someone should make millions out of it and give me a copy for my birthday :)

A few quick notes for the angry Davin:

1) The only difference between American English and British English is a few spelling differences, the grammatical structures are identical, otherwise they’d be different languages rather than dialects. The reason we internationals perceive you as speaking (or typing in this case) incorrectly is because you are.

2) Confusing “there’s” for “theirs” and other similar errors are not “slang” as you called it. Colloquialisms are quite different to spelling errors, although one could argue that spellings like “ur” for “you’re” could be counted as textual slang.

3) Gay (or fag in this case) is not a synonym for stupid (or any other derogative term).

4) I get laid regularly, and I still think you’re a dick.

From Davin:

Honestly, thats not my real communication mode i just conform to fit the needs of my surroundings. if im in school or with my friends then i talk like that status. If im in a interview or need to get something done to my liking then i take another tone that many people arent familiar with i just dont see the need to spell out you on facebook when many people if not everyone understands that u is the same thing as you and the people that dont understand that seriously need to get a social life and stop having theirs revolve around people choosing to use slang instead of correct english cause well if u realise that to the english almost all american english is slang

But I think it was David who had the most interesting statement:

My suggestion would be to find a major you really LIKE. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone who really loves English could ever bring himself to write like this, in a social occasion or otherwise, just as I can’t imagine a philosophy major ignoring a specious argument just because he’s at a party or a math major pretending not to notice a mistake on a restaurant check just because he’s out to dinner with friends.

Personally, I don’t believe that Davin is an English major.

If he is, though, then I can’t believe that Davin is an English major, yet takes pride in the fact that he writes so badly.  WHY would anyone DO THAT?

You know me — you know that this blog is about going after the people who make errors in professional writing.  But I thought that this was worth posting.

What do you think?

When disaster hits close to home….

It happens.

It happens more often than we’d like to admit.

I got a letter illustrating this:

Subject: In my own home!

Dear Grammar Vandal,

For two years this sign has adorned our backdoor.  We kept it up not as a public service but because no one bothered to take the effort to pry it off — that’s double-sided tape holding it up!

I must confess my sin: ‘Twas I who typed said sign.  Forgive me.  It was an oversight!

It really does happen to all of us.

Thanks for the smile.

Racist Typo

I was reading the Metro on the train this morning when I came across a travel feature on Mystic, Connecticut.  I briefly scanned it — and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Talking about a bar in town, this is how the piece begins:

The bar is rapidly filling up, and soon the air is thick with chatter and the chink of ice on glass.

I knew something wasn’t right.  I had seen that word before, and I was pretty sure it was a racist term.  After double-checking with a few coworkers and Urban Dictionary, I confirmed it.  It is a racist term for a Chinese person or a person of Asian descent.

How could this appear in the paper?!

Clearly, the writer, Linda Laban, was searching for an onomatopoeia of some kind.  Either she originally put in the word clink and an editor changed it, or she thought that the word chink had a good sound to it.  And I in no way think that she or the editors are racist. It looks like an accidental typo.

That being said, where was the editor to find this horrible error and remove it?

We all know that Metro is no stranger to errors — the paper is usually peppered with them.

Even today, there was a great blurb on the front page:

It is predicted that 56 billion people worldwide will be hypertensive by 2025.

At least I can laugh at that one.

The Worst Text Message of All Time

Last November, we had a discussion on text messaging and how grammar plays into what you do.  Everyone seems to have a decisive opinion on just how much of a role grammar should play in texting.

For me, personally, I try to be as correct as possible, including capitalization, but I’ll occasionally use an abbreviation like BRB or LOL, and I hate to say this, but when I want to appear “breezy” (as in when I’m talking to a guy I like or something equally pathetic), I’ll leave punctuation off the end.

While I was in Vegas, I twittered everything I did, and since I didn’t have computer access, I did it by texting.

On Sunday night, I sent the worst text message of all time.  It had been a long and crazy night, seeing Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE, dinner at the Grand Lux at the Venetian, checking out the Palazzo and the Wynn, dancing at Tryst at the Wynn, going to the after-hours club Drai’s at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, and then walking all the way back to T.I., where we stayed, and playing blackjack unil 7:30 AM.

I can’t believe I actually wrote this message.

Here it is, and I am not exaggerating it in any way:

Wait — oh, no!  It deleted a lot of my old ones.  Anyway, the tweets were along the lines of TRYST IS THE BEST MOTHERF—— CLUB TO WHICH I HAVE EVER BEEN, MOTHAF—-!, perfect in their grammar (if using a slang form of spelling!), and then I texted this gem at 4:32 AM:

At local after club Drai’s and nmt paying for a cent because i am the motherfucking afterrclub of vegas

And then this beauty at 5:37 AM:

Dudd. we are sthll up and it is f——  awake.  me officially have left the aeater party at the ip.

I still can’t believe I considered that to be verbally coherent.  We have reached a new low.  There is literally nowhere lower to go.

Also — I would like to wish a very happy birthday to faithful reader furrperson.  I hope your day is fantastic!

Lay vs. Lie and the Hanes Lie Flat Collar

I received quite the loaded question from reader Sara.

It turns out that Hanes is now selling a T-shirt with the brand name LAY FLAT COLLAR.

Well, now.

Does the collar lie? Or do we lay it down?

I think we’ve had this discussion on here before.

You use the word lay when someone places an object or puts it down.

Before you go to bed, please lay out your clothes for the next day.

You use the word lie when the subject reclines…

I lie in bed for a long time on Saturday mornings.

However, it starts getting complicated when you get into the past tense.

Here’s a brief overview:

If we’re talking about placing:

I lay my clothes out the night before.

I laid my clothes out last night.

I’ve laid my clothes out every night since I was eight years old.

If we’re talking about reclining:

I lie in bed for a long time on Saturday mornings.

I lay in bed for a long time last Saturday.

I’ve lain for 30 minutes so far.

Good times.

Anyway, Sara told me that Hanes shirt features a LAY FLAT COLLAR.

So, who lays the collar?  Does the collar lay itself?  In that case, it would lie, not lay.

I think that Hanes means that the shirt

I can see why Hanes wouldn’t be thrilled with the word lie.  In addition to most of the population confusing these two words, the word lie has a negative connotation.  That probably wouldn’t be the best way to sell undergarments.

Hanes, if you come across this entry, I hope you change your ways.  I doubt it, but I hope that you do.

I’m not counting on it.

Thanks, Sara.

Beauty Overcomes Grammar

I’m watching Idol Gives Back on TV right now.  It’s heartbreaking.  (Click here to donate to Idol Gives Back, which divides the donations among six charities in the U.S. and in Africa.)

Many celebrities are making appearances on the show, including one of my favorite celebrity couples, David and Victoria Beckham.

Excerpts from their speech, which I wrote down as soon as I heard it:

Victoria: “David and myself are fortunate enough to be here [to be here to tell you to donate, etc. -- didn't get the whole thing].”
David: “Please join Victoria and myself in donating.”

The word myself is completely out of place.  It should be I in the first sentence and me in the second.

If you ever have doubt over whether you should say “and myself” — or “and I” for that matter — drop the other subject.

I am fortunate enough to be here — not myself is fortunate enough to be here.

Please join me in donating — not please join myself in donating.

I know that it’s not their fault.  The show’s writers are the ones to blame.  Though it’s within my rights to criticize them, I do feel a tad guilty insulting a good cause like this one. 

But I have to be honest with myself.  Even if they had written those awkward sentences themselves, I wouldn’t have minded.  They’re too damn good-looking.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time beauty caused me to overlook grammar errors.  I think my friends know where I’m going with this one.  :-/

Please donate if you can afford to do so.  $10.00 buys a mosquito net.  That could save one or more lives in Africa.

The First Year Teacher’s Thoughts on Grammar

One of my best friends, Lisa, is in her first year of teaching both high school and college, with the occasional kindergarten class. She’s started a great blog detailing some of her experiences called First Year Teacher Resources. The other day, she wrote about outdated grammar rules and why she considers them to be that way.

Here’s a selection:

6. “He’s taller than me.” This is something I OVERHEAR all the time, and it’s starting to become a case of the who vs. whom debate. The “grammatically correct” term is “He’s taller than I” or “She’s smarter than I.” However, if someone is on the phone and a person asks, “Who is it?” The correct response would be “It is I”, when it’s really more socially acceptable (and much less haughty) to say, “It’s me.” Another issue of our language evolving, perhaps.

Click here to read the rest of them.

This is one subject on which I’m torn.  I don’t think that people are wrong when they say, “It’s me.”  To put it simply, there just following language as it has evolved.  There is only one time when I think I’ll do so — when I say “This is she” when answering the phone.

How about you?

A nice glass of “ice tea”

You know, sometimes I think that I’ll never find another pet peeve.  Then I end up searching lowes.com for an ice maker (don’t ask).  While searching for ice makers, here is what popped up instead:

iceteamaker.jpg

Ooh, I hate it when people call it ice tea.  It is not simply tea made of ice — it is tea that has had been iced and therefore iced tea.

At times, it seems like more people are saying ice tea than iced tea, at least up here in the northeast.  (I’m pretty sure that sweet tea is the term preferred in the southern and midwestern states.)

The fact that either Lowes or the manufacturers spelled this wrong only perpetuates this myth.

Have you noticed this?

“Is our children learning?”

During both of my interviews on NPR, I learned that it’s difficult to speak perfectly while under intense pressure.

George Bush must be under a hell of a lot of pressure.  Maybe that explains why he’s taken all those vacations to Texas.

Wow.

Wow.

It just keeps getting better and better. 

Image posted on “Good Grammar Is Hot” group on Facebook

IRONIC alert!

I’m watching American Idol right now and a commercial just came on for Milla Jovovich’s new clothing line at Target.  In the commercial, Milla and her design partner, Carmen Hawk, describe their designs.

The line features 1930s-style flowers incorporated in 1970s ways.  Milla then describes the line in a few words: “It’s whimsical; it’s fun; it’s ironic.”

Ironic.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  It seems like the word is only used correctly about 10% of the time.

(I can’t tell you how many times Paula Abdul has said things like, “I find it really ironic that you choose a song that would be so good for you!”)

So, this clothing line is ironic?  It’s entirely possible.  I’m sure there is a way to find this clothing line ironic.

Now, my question to you:

How could a clothing line be described as ironic?

It would be so different if we added a comma….

I love this.

Source: “Good Grammar Is Hot” group on Facebook, posted by Corynne H.