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Posts Tagged ‘grammar pet peeves’

A grammar rant: “me and him” is ALWAYS wrong!

You know things have gone haywire in Grammarland when you take notice of people using language properly. I’ve touched on it before, but this Facebook ad put me over the edge this morning, so I feel I MUST address this specific grammar problem, yet again.

The word ME is virtually never the subject of a sentence. (I say virtually, because it might have been the subject of that previous sentence, had I omitted “The word” and just begun with “ME,” but I figured that might just have confused folks, so I decided to leave well enough alone.) Yet we hear and see “me” used as a subject everywhere. And from smart people, too! The final episode of my favorite TV show ever, West Wing, aired on May 14, 2006, yet I still remember John Spencer’s character using the “me and him” construction. David Letterman uses it. I saw it in a David Baldacci novel. My niece and husband use it. It’s so ubiquitous – and soooooooo incorrect!

I feel a little validated that I’m not the only one annoyed by our collective migration to this ridiculously wrong use of grammar. Heidi Stevens touches on the topic in the August 22, 2012 Chicago Tribune. What I’d really like to figure out, though, is how we can shift people back to the correct usage.

For the record, here’s the grammar lesson again.

When do you use “I” and when do you use “me”?

“I” is a pronoun that must be the subject of a verb. “Me” is a pronoun that must be the object of the verb. The easiest way to decipher the two is to remove the other noun from the sentence and see if it still makes sense.

Correct use:

  • I went hiking.
  • My family and I went hiking.
  • My family went hiking with me.

Incorrect use:

  • Me went hiking. <— This is wrong and makes no sense.
  • Me and my family went hiking. <— This is WRONG and makes NO SENSE.

It feels a bit futile to make this argument, and yet I can no longer stand silently by as this oh-so-incorrect construction continues to permeate our language. Please do your part to help me clean up this small, but toxic, grammar challenge.

Laura

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Grammar and style pet peeves; don’t we all have them?

A friend sent me a list of someone’s “Top 10 Grammar Peeves” the other day. I agreed with some; others weren’t that big a deal to me. Interesting, what sets off one of us another can brush away with a shrug. I was motivated, though, to come up with my own little list. Granted, most of these are grammar issues – but one or two style snafus snuck in because they also drive me nuts.

1. Me and him

INCORRECT: Me and my partner went to lunch at noon.

CORRECT: My partner and I went to lunch at noon.

Of all the grammar errors going – and there are clearly WAYYYYY too many to list here – this is my biggest pet peeve. “Me” is the object, the receiver of the action. “Me” can never DO anything. “I” is the subject, the doer. Only “I” can do things like go to lunch. How did this horrible construction ever make its insidious way into our regular usage? When I heard David Letterman and West Wing’s John Spencer use it about a week apart from each other, I knew I’d lost the battle on this one. But it still pierces every time I hear/read it.

2. Using apostrophes to create plurals

INCORRECT: The boy’s and girl’s played on the swings.

CORRECT: The boys and girls played on the swings.

I did an entire post about this one.

3. Confusing it’s/its and they’re/their/there and you’re/your

PROPER USE: It’s Tuesday and I checked the mailbox, but your letter is not there yet. I await its arrival so I can share your news with the family when they’re home. I want to get their opinion on whether you’re still the first stop on our vacation.

“It’s” is the contraction for “it is,” just as “you’re” is the contraction for “you are” and “they’re” is the contraction for “they are.” ‘Your,” “their,” and “its” are all possessives. Depending on its use, “there” is an adverb or a pronoun ( in this case, an adverb).

4. Confusing choose/chose and loose/lose

Jane will choose whether to leave her hair loose because last time she chose to wear it up she was a loser in the pageant.

“Chose” is the past tense of “choose;” however “lose” means not to win, while “loose”  means not tight, two completely unrelated words.

5. Unnecessary random capital letters

This one just makes you look like a moron. Really. If there’s no reason for the caps, don’t use them.

6. Using random quotation marks

Less moronic than random capitalization, but only by a hair. Again, if there’s no reason for the quotation marks, don’t use them! And what reason could there possibly be to use them below?

Also was asked by the same friend who sent the grammar peeves list about when to use single quotation marks. This is reserved for a quote within a quote – although the Brits appear to reverse this.

AMERICAN USAGE: Eric said, “I told her I didn’t do it, but she said, ‘You’re a liar.’”

BRITISH USAGE: Eric said, ‘I told her I didn’t do it, but she said, “You’re a liar.”’

7. Unnecessary use of .00 when writing monetary amounts; unnecessary use of :00 and lack of periods in a.m. and p.m. when designating time

This is an issue of correctness if you’re following the AP Style Manual, but I think everyone should adopt this style. Those extra zeroes at the end just take up space and make the writing look cluttered.

LESS PREFERRED: The concert begins at 8:00 pm and costs $20.00.

PREFERRED: The concert begins at 8 p.m. and costs $20.

8. There are/there is constructions.

LESS PREFERRED: There are many doctors who advocate drinking less soda.

PREFERRED: Many doctors advocate drinking less soda.

This goes back to my college days. The “there is” construction is not grammatically incorrect, but it makes for weak writing. You will likely find unavoidable occasions for using it – but generally, reworking the sentence will improve it.

9. Literally means something actually happened – it is not a way to describe something figurative.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/literally

10. Using only a close parenthesis to create a numbered list.

11. Using two hyphens instead of an en or em dash.

SLOPPY: We no longer work on typewriters – – double dashes are unnecessary in the day of word processors.

PROFESSIONAL: We no longer work on typewriters — double dashes are unnecessary in the day of word processors.

The use of an em dash (—) or en dash (–) [so called because they are roughly the width of an “n” or an “m”] is really a stylistic preference, as is whether to use spaces before and after, although certain style manuals indicate that no spaces before and after an em dash is correct. Using one or the other in place of double dashes is the sign of a professional, versus a lazy writer or, worse, typesetter.

Happy grammar checking!

Laura

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