I love Weird Al. I have always loved Weird Al. But now I REALLY love Weird Al.

Not only does he know that "it's" is a contraction, he also knows what a dangling participle is. (Be still my heart!)

Now that I am backed by a celebrity, I feel inspired to add my own Word Crimes:

1) Impact is not a verb. It is a noun. You can have an impact on something, but you can't impact it. (It may be true that all your friends, TV announcers, and anybody with an MBA believes impact is a verb. THEY ARE ALL WRONG!)

2) "Issue" does not mean "problem," it means a topic of debate. You can discuss an issue, but you cannot have one. (This grammar crime was fomented by therapists, who also have convinced susceptible individuals that they can be "conflicted" when they have "issues.")

3) Grow is what you do with potatoes - not audiences, businesses, or twitter followers. (This is an MBA crime.)

4) "Conflicted" does not exist. You can feel conflict, you can even be in conflict, but you can't be conflicted. (See number 2 above.)

4) Disrespect is not a verb, it is a noun. You can show disrespect, but you can't disrespect someone.

5) "Different from" (or "different to" in Great Britain) is correct when you are comparing nouns, not "different than." For example, California is different from ... well, just about anywhere.

6) The object of a preposition is object case, not subject. Let's keep this between you and me, not you and I.

7) "Like" is for comparing nouns. "As if" is for verb phrases. I act like you, but we can't act like nothing matters. We must act as if nothing matters.

8) Plurals do not use apostrophes - EVER. You own CDs, not CD's.

9) A possessive goes with a gerund. "My going to California upset her" is correct, not *Me going to California upset her."

10) Reported speech uses declarative sentence structure. "I asked him what the time was." Not *"I asked him what was the time." If you are quoting, you can use interrogative structure. Ex. I asked him, "What is the time?" (Reported speech is comprised of sentences beginning with phrases using verbs such as wonder, consider, ask, etc. Ex. I wondered what the time was. I considered what the alternatives were.)

If you are guilty of any of the above grammar indiscretions, you are doomed to suffer the eternal torment of grammarian hell. Also, people will assume you did not pay attention in my English class. (That's right. I'm talking about you, Pete.)


08/01/2014 12:50pm

Erica: Well said! I get so frustrated by all the sportscasters "alluding" to things that they're actually referring to, and other horrid examples of improper grammar, that I finally had enough. I'm writing a book, tentatively called "Frequently Misused and Misspelled Words and Phrases (and how to use them correctly)".

I'm currently up around 250 such words, phrases, punctuation, and symbols (including asterisks and ampersands).

I'm looking for as many bad examples as I can find, and perhaps a knowledgeable person to review and offer suggestions.

Here's an example of what I'm doing:

Spaded vs. Spayed
Wrong: Have your dogs spaded or neutered.
Right: Have your dogs spayed or neutered.

To spay means to have a female surgically sterilized. Spaded means shoveled, as with a spade. Do you really want to encourage people to shovel their dogs?

Squash vs. Quash
Wrong: Saddam Hussein squashed the rebellion.
Right: Saddam Hussein quashed the rebellion.

To squash is to crush, flatten, or pulp. To quash is to suppress, quell, or subdue. Although a dictator might be said to crush a rebellion, he does not literally press it into a flat mass to squeeze the juice out of it. The correct term for ending a rebellion, or to deny a legal motion, is to quash it. Although the difference in meaning between these two words may seem trivial, using the right word is the mark of a good writer.

(Unfortunately, the formatting didn't transfer when I posted this.)

As you can see, I try to inject some humor into the explanations, so they aren't so mind-numbingly dry. Plus I avoid delving into the depths of grammar so I don't put the reader to sleep. I try to include as many examples and rules of thumb as I can to make the answers easier to remember.

What do you think?

08/01/2014 5:01pm

Go for it! And while you're at it, include:

lay vs lie (Lie is an intransitive verb, lay is transitive You lie down, you don't lay down.)

Imminent vs eminent (People mix those up all the time.)

Who vs that (A man who, not a man that. Who is for people, that is for everything else)

Me used as a subject. ("Me and Julio down by the school yard.")

Hyphens used with compound adverbs. A nicely dressed woman, not a nicely-dressed woman.

I could go on forever...

08/01/2014 5:10pm

Thanks, Erica. I already have those, except for the compound adverbs. I'll be sure to add that one. 8^}

08/01/2014 6:33pm

And how about this lovely piece of jargon?

"Moving forward" instead of "in the future." Ex. "Moving forward, these tests will no longer be relevant." Are the tests traveling somewhere?

08/01/2014 8:02pm

Thanks, Erica. That goes right up there with solutioning a problem (seriously), impacting something, having an issue, and other ridiculous business jargon.

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