Friday, March 04, 2011

It’s Grammar Day; Have To Do It!

Crayonbox-blankIn honor of National Grammar Day (yes, there is such a thing!), I can’t resist posting a bunch of grammar rule breakages that drive us grammar nerds totally bonkers. Some are my own. Others came from either Writer Beware’s Facebook page (Mar 4, 2011) or from’s For Authors newsletter (Feb 23, 2011). Since I torture my nearest and dearest often enough by correcting grammar, I thought it was only fair to spread the favor.

It’s and its – not really that hard: it’s means it is, a contraction while its is possessive as in, “Virtue is its own reward.” (so is correct grammar, by the way)

They’re, their, there – They’re means they are, again a contraction (the apostrophe means you’re leaving something out). Their is a pronoun meaning it belongs to them: Their boots are muddy from the rain. If you don’t mean they’re or their, then use there, as in “over there” or “there is” or “put it there.”

Take and Bring – My grandma drummed this into my head when I was young: you take something there but you bring it here. “Take the cake next door but be sure to bring the plate home with you.”

Irregardless – Yikes! Please don’t say that. The word is “regardless” even if some will let you get away with it because it’s become common usage.

These ones or those ones. – No! These or those or that one or this one. No other options.

Affect and Effect – affect is a verb, effect is a noun: The effect of the bill is that it will affect the environment. (There are less obvious uses of these words, but in general, this is good enough to remember.)

Further and Farther – This one might be tricky, as it will tell you in some dictionaries that they are interchangeable in common usage. I’ve done the same because I simply like the sound of further better than the sound of farther. However, I no longer do so. Farther is a measurable distance. Further is figurative. As in, “The farther you go down the road the further into trouble you’ll get.”

Less and Fewer – Fewer is a counting word, as in you have fewer books on your Ereader than on your shelf. If you can’t count the object, you can’t have fewer, you can only have less. You have less time to read the fewer books you have. And be sure to tell your local grocery store that their signs should read: 5 items or fewer, NOT 5 items or less. If you can count the items, you can’t have less. Of course, you could have fewer minutes. You still only have less time, though.

Should have, NOT should of!

To and Too
: To is a preposition (I want to go there.) Too is an adverb (I want too much. Are you going, too?)

And, please don’t use a contraction when you mean a plural: Murphy’s Bar is correct since the bar belongs to Murphy (possessive). However, your Christmas card should say “The Murphys” as in there is more than one of you Murphys in the picture. (If there is only one of you in the picture, then The Murphy would work but it might sound pretentious.)

I’m not even going into lie and lay, other than basically a person can lie himself down but he must lay something else down. “I need to lie down now; my head is spinning. Lay the grammar book down and grab a drink.” I admit I tend to avoid other confusion with lie and lay by preferring to say, “He let the book remain where she set it.” Set is easier. Okay, I’m not claiming to be a grammar expert. Winking smile

I do have to point out the difference between that and who: a person is a who (no matter how small), while that is a thing or a critter. “A person who yells on a regular basis is less likely to be heard than he who only yells when it’s truly necessary.” Or, “It’s a smart little grasshopper that keeps its singing muted while a toad is looking for its dinner.”

Ah, your and you’re: again, the contraction vs. the possessive – “You’re likely tired of the grammar lesson and would rather be reading your new book!”

And so, I’ll stop here and see if anyone else would like to add to the list in the comments.

Don’t you feel sorry now for my loved ones who have to put up with this on a regular basis?

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Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--oh, no. I just learned the difference between further and farther, now--lie and lay? I'll never get those straight.

But "set?" I'm trying to read a novel now that is one of the poorest edited books I've ever encountered. The author uses "set" repeatedly, and I mean many, many times. On one page, I counted four times she "set" something somewhere.

Thanks, though, for the reminders--Celia

Andra M. said...

Good point, Celia. One of my biggest problems is repeat wordage. Ugh. Luckily my husband is kind enough to point those out.

In my last WIP, I used "risk" twice in the same sentence.

LK Hunsaker said...

Ah, anything repeated too often if just obnoxious. I think we all tend to have certain words we use too often. I had to learn to cut out ... darn, now I can't remember. Maybe it worked!

Andra, what a risky move that was. ;-)