Note: The amount of feedback that we’ve received to this page has been outstanding, but we feel that it’s now time to close the comments section. Browse the comments below to see the pet peeves of our readers.
While we (Sherry Coven and Paul Yeager) get the chance to talk about our language pet peeves every day, you may not. We know that you have at least one–everyone who hears about Paul’s book (Literally, the Best Language Book Ever) invariably has an idea or two.
Leave a comment to tell us yours–maybe it’ll end up in a future book.
We intend this to be a list of pet peeves, not an open forum discussion related to individual pet peeves. There are plenty of forums out there where people debate language and grammar topics; this isn’t one of them. We’ll moderate comments with that idea in mind in the future.
Note: Comments will not be published if they include any type of personal attack, inflammatory language, overly negative language, or are not directly related to a pet peeve.
Being in High school, I hear a lot of stupid things, but lately it’s gotten worse. “Are you for serious?” doesn’t make sense! The worst, by far, is “me and him went to the mall”. It is so sad that they don’t teach grammar anymore…
Reply from Paul: Thanks for starting the new page with a couple of good examples, and it’s good to know that there is at least one high school student who cares about the way he sounds!
“They” still teach it. They (the teachers) teaching it and you (the students) learning it are not necessarily the same thing.
I don’t know about “they” as in the majority of teachers in secondary education, but the last lesson I had in English grammar was probably sixth or seventh grade. On the other hand, the foreign language teachers are obsessed with tenses and sentence structure, so most students I know can rattle off subjunctive verbs in Spanish until they run out of oxygen, but can’t even identify them in English.
One of many peeves I have with grammar is the phrase “I could care less”. Since grade school, I have always been the one person in the group who sarcastically remarks, “So, you’re saying that you DO care? Or, do you mean you COULDN’T care less?” Needless to say I usually receive an eye-rolling response of: “Same difference”. UGH!
Ok, I can’t resist, here’s another: “She had her appendix out”. Hmm, I just can’t help but ask if that means…out for a walk? Out for a little fresh air? Out for the day?
Reply from Paul: Holli, I couldn’t agree more about I could care less. In fact, it’s in the book. 🙂
Even worse is a statement like, “She had an infection in her appendix, so the doctor removed them”. This is a common statement where I live.
Oh, I forgot. My license expired and I have to renew them.
Reason why – as in “The reason why this happened”, or worse yet – “The reason why this happened is because.” The reason is why and why is the reason! To say “the reason why” is redundant.
Reply from Paul: Those are excellent peeves–and common errors. Sherry has written a couple of blogs on those (Reason is Because) and (The Reason is Already the Why).
Good one but even better is the is is, as in “The reason is is that…..”.
My boss says that all the time. It makes my teeth itch.
I believe that ‘the reason why’ is grammatically correct. Check the OED definition of ‘reason’: “. . . III. A cause, ground, or motive. . . .10. A fact or circumstance forming, or alleged as forming, a motive sufficient to lead a person to adopt or reject some course of action or belief, esp. one stated as such. Also as a mass noun: grounds, motivation, or justification. With why, that, wherefore; for, of, or infinitive.”
You’re entitled to your opinion–as we are ours, which is that the reason why is redundant.
My point, I guess, is about opinion, but also about consistency. From a grammatical point of view, the ‘why’ is necessary as a connector between a main clause and a relative clause. In English you do not usually write two complete clauses together without a conjunction, a semicolon, or a relative adverb or pronoun.
[Take the following sentence as an example: “This is one of the reasons we write the blog.” Here there are two complete clauses, with subject, verb, and object: 1) ‘This is one of the reasons’ and 2) ‘We write the blog’). The second one is subordinated to the first one and it needs a connective word to mark the relation. Omitting the connective ‘why’ would be wrong from a strict grammatical point of view. Of course, as in many other cases, the context will let the reader know what the relation between the sentences is. However, in other subordinate constructions things may be more bothersome. For instance, saying, “This is the ocean I swim,” instead of saying, “This is the ocean in which I swim;” or, “Emily wrote a story a girl who eats pancakes,” instead of “Emily wrote a story about a girl who eats pancakes.” I guess that it is a matter of grammatical rigor and consistency for all cases vs. redundancy in some specific cases]
So where do you draw the line between grammatical consistency and taste?
This is actually an important question for me. I am not a native speaker of English, and I have to think about these choices, and the criteria behind them, more often than native speakers do.
While I see your point about the two clauses, we have to remember that in your example, “This is one of the reasons we write the blog,” the second clause is a part of the prepositional phrase. Therefore, the rest of your examples do not effectively support your opinion. “This is the ocean I swim” does not yet have a preposition, which is why you are inclined to improve it: “This is the ocean in which I swim.” Likewise, the sentence, “Emily wrote a story a girl who eat pancakes,” is just begging for a preposition. Because the original example, “This is one of the reasons we write the blog,” already has a preposition, adding a ‘why’ is redundant. In my opinion, the phrase “we write the blog,” though it could stand alone as a close, is here used as part of the noun phrase that is the object of the preposition ‘of.’
How about the word “asterisk”? I know it’s not technically a grammer or language issue, but more of a spelling problem. I am embarrassed when well-educated adults say “astric” or “astrix”.
I received your book today, Paul, and have just finished reading the foreword. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only person driven crazy by the deplorable language and grammar running rampant these days. Thank you for writing the book!
Reply from Paul: Thank you! Asterisk is a pet peeve on which we all agree; in fact, Sherry already wrote a post on that one! I’m glad that you’re enoying the book so far.
1) “for sale: 50% off the original price”…..redundant!
2) in a shop, at the checkout, in response to my saying “thank you”, the clerk’s responding
“no problem!”……was my purchase expected to be a problem?
paul, i ordered your book as soon as i read about it…..excellent!….i am a language obsessive, and thank you very much for your gratifying undertaking….
Reply from Paul: Good pet peeves, and thank you so much for the kind words about the book.
I’m sure it’s not the worst, but it is probably the most usual (at least in Florida): “For free”.
“free” is not a noun but an adjective, so it doesn’t need that preposition. Nobody would say “for cheap”, so why almost everybody choose “for free”?
Perhaps they find some analogy with “for nothing” or “for only XXX bucks”?
Mr. Yeager, One of my pet peeves, which is a grammatical error is the use of good vs. well. If you ask someone how he/she is, you may hear “I’m good” when “I’m well” would be correct. The pizza is good, the person is well.
Unless, of course, you are talking to a good person. If you ask a person how he/she is, that may actually be a correct answer. However, if you ask how a person is DOING, well would be the answer. On the other hand, if you asked WHAT a person was doing, good may work, as it would imply good works.
I very frequently read the phrase “looking to…” (i.e. looking to buy; looking to sell). It is very commonly used in classified ads. It sounds infuriatingly incorrect to me. Is it?
Reply from Paul: It’s certainly accepted to use look in a way that means turn attention toward something, but that acceptance doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily correct. I’d have to do a little more research; however, I don’t have to do any research to note that it’s an extremely inarticulate way to express the thought. It would be more articulate to say that we’re considering buying a car.
How about I’m fixin’ to buy me a car!
That’s so common where I live. I’ve always thought someone must have thought preparing and fixin’ are one in the same. I guess they are, when you’re cooking. I can understand that but the way it’s used in the example is just plain stupid…..unless, of course, you intend to cook the car for supper. That’s just my opinion.
…or that, if you live in Kentucky.
My pet peeve is: Fallen Soldier(s)
They have not fallen, they are dead.
There is a trend among speakers on talk radio to double up on the word “is” when it is followed by an appositive noun clause beginning with the word “that”. Example: The problem is is that he just isn’t thinking.
In effect, they make the first “is” part of the subject. Nobody would ever write such a sentence, but it’s very common in radio speech.
Reply from Paul: I couldn’t agree more, Mike. I’ve heard that many times, especially recently.
Sorry. I didn’t read far enough. I mentioned this earlier. I HATE the is is and many radio and television personalities do this.
I really enjoyed your book and agree wholeheartedly on many of your issues. I have a few pet peeves of my own I’d like to share.
There have been several times when I’ve watched a NASCAR show when the commentators have said, “It doesn’t get much better than this”. How much better is it going to get if they say that almost each time?
My husband has an infuriating phrase when I ask him a question. He starts his answer with “Let me put it this way”. NO, just tell me the straight facts.
I have recently been attacked by the phrase “I/We can do this” instead of saying, “Yes, I/we can do that.”
When did “woken” take the place of “awakened”?
I hate it when people put words in my mouth such as ending a statement with “why?”. Example: “I saw a driver going down the wrong side of the road. Why?” and then proceed to tell you as if you asked the question.
My last pet peeves are basically the group that falls into misused words such as “lay” instead of “lie”, “done” instead of “finished” (my English teacher would always remind us that turkeys are done, people are finished), and then there is the recent lazy way of spelling the contraction “you’re” as “your”. I’ve been seeing this more and more in the professional field in e-mails.
Well, I guess that’s all I have for now. I’m finished…LOL Thank you for a wonderful book and a place to blow off steam (not literally).
Reply from Paul: Linda, I’m glad that you liked the book, and it seems as if you have a lot in common with my family and me. Sherry (wife and co-writer) and her grandmother also want to know when awakened was replaced by woken. The asking yourself a question and then answering it has been a favorite of mine for years. Why? Because it makes you sound ridculous.
Sportscasters and newsreaders who use a subjective pronoun after stating the noun irritate me greatly!
Examples are: “The Milwaukee Brewers they play the Washington Nationals this afternoon”. “Ben Sheets he takes the hill for the Brewers”.
Two other favorites are regionlisms. When speaking to a married woman one asks, “What is your name from home”, rather than what was your maiden name.
And my favorite is the most curious sentence I ever heard: “There she goes again coming back”.
Reply from Paul: Thanks, Robert. I’ve heard announcers say that, too, and it certainly strikes me as odd as well. Thanks for the regionalisms, too–we have plenty here in Pennsylvania, and I enjoy hearing those from other areas.
If the sentence is written, it could be: The Milwaulkee Brewers; they play… If a sportscaster is reading a teleprompter, that might be what he’s seeing. Or he might be seeing: Ben Sheets. He takes the hill… (with a semi-color or period after the proper name). But if someone is just saying
“Joe Blow he shovels the snow,” that would be wrong. You’re right.
I often hear “I feel” when referring to thoughts. Example: “I feel this will be a difficult election year.” Feelings refer to being sad, glad, happy,etc. It has been suggested to me that the “I feel” is a usage that softens a statement. I think it is used so that a statement cannot be countered or argued. How can anyone object to my feelings?
I just got your book last night and have read/skimmed all of it already! I love it. I teach high school English and I have already planned to work some of your examples into my writing lessons for next year.
My pet peeves include the numerous grammatical and usage errors made by my students:
1. everyday vs. every day
2. going “down” to the park – what makes it down? Is it underground?
3. and finally,I am not sure if this is a regional thing, and I know that it is more mechanics than grammar, but I hate it when families get stones to put in front of their houses and put an incorrect apostrophe in it: The Fisher’s or The Hamilton’s. The stone is to indicate which family lives there and should be plural, not possessive!
There are so many more, but I will end here. Thanks for your book; it is a riot!
Reply from Paul: Thank you for the ringing endorsement of the book! I’m flattered that you want to share it with your class. That’s quite an honor.
Feel free to write in with the rest of your pet peeves; the more, the merrier. (I hope that cliche isn’t one of them.)
‘Everyday’ instead of ‘every day’ makes me want to scream too. The only thing I hate more is ‘direct’ used as an adverb. I never buy anything from a company that offers to ‘deliver direct to your home’. They will be going ‘direct’ to the wall when the revolution comes, as far as I’m concerned.
The apostrophe thing is not regional, it is just plain wrong. Here in the UK we call it the greengrocer’s apostrophe because it is so characteristic of chalkboards advertising POTATOE’S £1 A BAG or FRESH JUICY TOMATO’S. I don’t know whether the term is used elsewhere though.
Oh yeah! The apostrophe. I think it’s universal, where English is spoken. And you’re correct that it seems to be prevalent in food stores. They put the time into making those signs, then commit this boo-boo (a technical term). Most of the time, the culprits are still in school. They must be sleeping when they should be listening.
There has been another victory for us. I recently emailed O’Reilly Auto Parts concerning their weekly ad that for years has said, “Right parts, right price, everyday” along the bottom of the front page. They were very friendly in their reply, and they agreed to look into it.
About 3 weeks later, the ad was changed to “every day.”
Now I have a major beef with HEB Grocery. Their tortilla packages say, “Made fresh everyday.” I have emailed them three times and they refuse to fix it. They own their own tortilla plant, so this would be an easy fix. If anyone else would like to help, please email them and let them know that this needs to be corrected. http://www.heb.com/aboutHEB/survey.jsp
My husband works in the auto industry. He and his co-workers use the words “VIN number” constantly. Since VIN means vehichle identification number, this is redundant.
My pet peeve is Paul Yeager’s use of a single hyphen instead of two hyphens to denote a dash: “I know that you have at least one–everyone who hears about the book…” Most Americans don’t know the difference between a dash and hyphen. They seem to think that both are called dashs.
Reply from Paul: A pet peeve about me?!?!?!?!?!!? I don’t know whether to be honored or insulted, but I will pick honored!
I know the difference between the two; however, wordpress must not since the double hyphen appears to be a single hyphen when displayed. Only the great sites invite pet peeves, though, so I’m not sure that they have a spot on their site to add this one.
Plan ahead, future ahead, planning for the future. Can you plan for the the past?
I often hear “past history” and “past experience”, even from professional communicators, e.g., TV and radio reporters.
Thank you for your comment on my blog. I am honored. I do, however, disagree with your appraisal of “it is what it is.” My friend Corbie and I (you addressed her as “Dude”) love this saying only we add “until it isn’t” onto the end. Here is her defense of this saying:
Well, you know me, I instantly go sarcastic. I mean it is what it is without the ‘until it isn’t’ is like Sonny without Cher, Laverne without Shirley, Mork without Mindy. In all seriousness, the phrase for me is a sign of surrender – surrender to the universe. It is a reminder not to try to force things and to simply live in today. There are no promises in life, no guarantees and wasting what little valuable time we have here trying to make things something other than what they are just doesn’t prove fruitful. I don’t expect this to be appreciated from a grammatical standpoint (though I do think it is only fair that you point out to him that I am actually bright and articulate and oh so in love with grammatical rules) – I simply expect it to be appreciated from a spiritual standpoint. He’ll understand…I think he secretly likes me…people are always drawn to rule breakers 🙂 Feel free to simply forward this entire tidbit to him while I am in Africa and see where it gets us…(meaning me).
Reply from Paul:
I was happy to post a comment on your blog, Tristan; I greatly appreciate the kind words about the book.
As far as Corbie is concerned, I knew that she was joking (even though I didn’t know that she was a she) with her comments on her blog. I enjoyed the humor, so the secret is out–I do like Corbie.
As far as the phrase, it is what it is, I have no argument with the sentiment expressed by Corbie, but I believe that there are better, less trendy ways to say it. I think someone decided that it was a hip, cool way of saying that something can’t be changed or something can’t be changed any longer.
To me, that’s part of the problem. It is sometimes used in the way the Corbie describes (accepting that we can’t change something that is beyond our power to change), but it’s also often used as a tool to deflect responsibility (I could have done better on my test had I studied, but I didn’t–so it is what it is), and since it’s used in two different ways, there can be confusion.
Even if that weren’t the case, it’s still an inarticulate incarnation of I can’t change what happened (or some variation thereof).
I have a phrase that runs along the same lines: “It’s not important, unless it is.” This phrase comes in handy while working in an environment with inconsistent priorities.
I’m driven to distraction by the mis-pronunciation of the articles “a” and “the”. This happens so frequently I begin to fear the cause is lost. Michelle (or is it Melissa.. I always confuse them) on NPR is a severe offender. For example: “There is a devastating fire in California” where “a” is pronounced as if rhyming with “they”. Another example would be “The true meaning of Christmas..” where “the” is pronounced as if rhyming with “me”.
It is the opposite of this which irritate me no end, and I hear it on the radio or TV constantly. “There is a avalanche.” Hello, does the word ‘an’ no longer exist? And the ever popular “He gave the answer as written.” with ‘the’ NOT pronounced as ‘thee.’
How do these people get jobs in broadcasting?
several of my pet peeves; 1) “where’s it at?” i have started answering, “it’s at over there.”
2) the use of the word “whenever” instead of “when” is truly annoying; when it occured once and not every time it happened
3)”does it need painted” makes no sense. painted is past tense and does it is future tense. i have lived visited all over this country, but i never heard that until i moved to northeastern ohio. does that need washed, and many other phrases make me cringe every day.
Reply from Paul: Thanks, Ed–these are excellent additions. As far as number 3 is concerned, it’s a common mistake in western PA as well.
Paul, I bought your book recently and have been sharing it with friends. I’m sure I’ll end up purchasing several more copies to give away.
One of my pet peeves pertains to sports. So often we hear an announcer say, “They’ve finally won their first game of the season” when what he really means is that the team has gotten its first victory of the season, perhaps in the tenth game.
In your book, one entry contains the phrase “free reign.” (I’m sorry that I don’t have the book with me at work and therefore can’t tell you which entry I’m discussing.) I thought that the phrase was “free rein” as in giving a horse a free rein. Have I been wrong all this time?
Reply from Paul: Dianne, thanks for the note about the book–I’m happy that you liked it enough to want to share it–and thanks for your pet peeve.
No, Dianne, I think you are correct–it should probably be free rein. Can I issue a retraction?!?!?
I hate it when I hear a person use the word “further” when referring to distance. And my wife will get mad at me if I correct her. (I had to stop doing that:).
Reply: Save all of your pet peeves for us instead; we don’t want language or grammar to cause any divorces. 🙂
That felt so good (to vent without resistance), I’ll add another one. Using “may” instead of “might”. I’m sure no further explanation is necessary here.
Reply from Paul: Just call me the language and grammar bartender…
One of my pet peeves is the misuse of “then” and “than”. Example: My house is bigger then yours.
Reply from Paul: Thanks, Ellen–this is a good addition to the list.
Here are some classics, I think:
The misuse of there, their, and they’re.
Using ‘of’ instead of ‘have’. Ex: ‘I should of gone with you.’ Which brings me to the next one: ‘I could’ve went early,’ Instead of ‘I could’ve left early.’
One of my worst fears is of someone trying to correct me if I say ‘Jonathan came to live with Sean and me,’ thinking that it’s ALWAYS proper to end such a sentence with ‘I’ or worse, ‘myself’.
Ha ha, now I’m really paranoid about my grammar! I understood that to correctly construct the sentence, it had to make sense if you removed ‘Sean and’. (I forgot what that chunk is called – it’s been so long since I’ve studied language). Am I wrong in thinking this?
Reply from Paul: These are good examples. In fact, co-blogger Sherry wrote about the first two you mentioned already (they’re/their/there and could of, should of). You are also correct about the proper way to check for the correct pronoun.
Paul has many redundancies listed in his book. I hear people say many redundancies like “whole entire”, “attempt to try”, and “desire to want.”
I also hate it when people say “same exact” rather than “exact same.”
People often say so many negatives they lose track of the meaning of their sentence. Recently someone on TV said “There is now a whole generation who have never not known a world without the Internet.”
Hmmm…and I hate it when people use “exact” and “same” together in any order.
Two of the most annoying cliches used frequently by news people are: “hunker down” and “hunker in the bunker.” Ugh! American language has become so cliche-ridden it is a cliche itself!
The pronunciation of “negotiate” also sends me screaming for a padded cell in which to bang my head. TV and radio personalities are enamored of this pronunciation: nego-see-a-shuns. (Not according to MY dictionary)!
It is hard not to correct folk who, when asked, “How are you?” reply, “I’m good.” When I answer that grammatical blunder by saying, “I was asking about the condition of your health, not the state of your morals,” they never understand the error! Healthy vs. Healthful causes angst, as well. Only living things can be healthy. If a food or activity promotes continued health, it is then healthful!
And actually, “exact same” may sound correct, but it is redundant. If it is “exact” it is the “same”, so one of the words is not not needed. Choose whichever you want, but you do not need both words.
Oh yes, I knew there was another bit of phraseology that annoys me: “I will be going to…” huh? The correct sentence is, “I will go…” Any of the similar phrases, “I will be giving, I will be asking, We will be doing,” etc., can be stated in the simple future tense with no harm to the meaning of the sentence. The simpler the sentence, the clearer the meaning!
No one seems to understand when to use Me, My, I, or Myself. I hear this sentence frequently (or read it in print!): “Myself and John…” or “Jean and myself gave this to you…” Or this: “Susan and me went” or the inverse, “Me and Susan went…” Or used in the possessive: “Mine and Susan’s dog…” The personal pronoun useage evidently is no longer taught in school.
The schools need to return to teaching English grammar and diagraming sentences. i don’t think students today even know the parts of speech!
i agree that “when” and “whenever” are used incorrectly. “Whenever” means the action or event is repeated. “Whenever I go to my grandmother’s, she…” Whatever follows “whenever” means that something always happens in response to the “whenever.” However, “When” is a limiting word. “When I went to my grandmother’s…” means simply that a certain thing occurred at that particular time but may not necessarily occur each time I go to my grandmother’s. Using “when” in the present tense, “When I go to…” still limits. It means that a particular thing will (or may occur), but “whenever” means that particular occurance is always a part of the occasion.
I haven’t listed all the peeves, but these are a few of those I consider the most egregious.
Not really grammar, but I hate the use of jargon terms that I hear in the office all the time. The most common I notice is “as per” and “going forward”.
“Going forward, we’ll follow the rules, as per our agreement.” arggghhh
“Next time, …, as we agreed” – There, was that so hard?
The word, “awesome”, when used in any but really awesome circumstances, annoys me. The word has become a shorthand, a lazy way to make a judgment or respond to another’s statement:
“I went to this awesome ski place,” George said. “Awesome,” answered Louise, looking truly awed.
Of corse, for true annoyance try, “I, like, went to this, like, truly awesome ski place,” George said. “That is, like, awesome,” Louise answered, looking, like, truly awed
I suppose it is laziness and use of shorthand communication that causes this, but I’m not sure. I get out of awesome conversations like this very, like, quickly.
I have two. My first isn’t quite a pet peeve, it’s more of an observation. It’s the phrase, “You’ve got two choices.” People usually use this phrase to report that someone has one choice, between two options.
My real pet peeve is any advertising that contains any version of the imperative, “Spend money now and save.” It shows up as, “buy now and save,” and, “The more you spend, the more you save.” This one makes my blood boil.
Reply from Paul: Thanks, Zach. These are great additions. The “spend money now and save” reminds me of those credit card gimmicks about rounding your purchase up to the nearest dollar and putting the change in a savings account because using credit cards early and often is a great way to save money!! I might have to write about that.
Wouldn’t each of the options constitute a separate choice? As in “you can make one of two choices?”
My biggest pet peeve at the moment is something that I’ve been hearing from customers more and more often these days.
I work at Blockbuster and, being as many people would like to see an assortment of things and not just what Hollywood thinks is the hit of the moment, we carry foreign movies. But I’ve had several customers coming in after renting one, not knowing it was foreign, and saying “This won’t talk English at me.” And that’s an exact quote.
I’ve been known to reply with things such as, “Well, it’s hard to find anything that’s going to talk English at you.” To which I tend to get nothing but blank stares and confusion in return, to which I can’t help being amused on the inside. I love stumping people with proper grammar. It almost makes up for having to listen to statements like “This won’t talk English at me” in the first place.
And I have to say that I said “to which” one too many times in that last comment. I should really go to sleep.
Reply from Paul: See you in the morning!
My favorite pet peeve in grammar is a word that is commonly used wrong.
“It’s just alittle “further” done the road”
You wouldn’t say “How fur down the road is it?” would you?
I believe the correct way is “How far down the road is it?”
Reply from Paul: Not everyone agrees that further/farther should not be used interchangeably, but we at languageandgrammar agree with you! Thanks.
In the book, you say, “By the way, ‘Me thinks’ is as incorrect as ‘It’s me.'”
Technically, yes (as two words), but methinks is quite correct. Many people don’t realize that “I think” comes from the OE verb “thencan,” to think, and that “methinks” comes from the OE verb “thyncan,” to seem. So “methinks” is an archaic way of saying “it seems to me.”
Reply from Paul: I don’t know–or deal with–Old English, but in standard, modern English, me thinks is incorrect. The information is interesting, though, and thanks for sharing it.
Okay, we can declare a draw on “methinks,” although it gets about 3.8 million hits in Google and is in many dictionaries pretty much as I described it. I maintain that it is a perfectly good word in the vocabulary of an educated speaker of English, you maintain it is incorrect. Let’s agree to disagree.
(I should say here that I agree completely with well over 90% of the things in the book. You move from one of my pet peeves to another throughout.)
My next nitpick is with 12 midnight and 12 noon. There are some instances when people are listing times when the numerals really need to be used. (By the way, the “m” in “a.m.” and “p.m.” stands for “meridiem” and not “meridian.”) This means that midnight is both “12:00 a.m.” and “12:00 p.m.” Noon, on the other hand, is “12:00 m.”
Europeans are more sensible than we are in this regard, where noon is 12.00 and midnight is 24.00.
I have learned that, in sending people lists of appointment times (for example), “12:00 m.” creates confusion. I compromise with “12:00 noon.” Even language purists have to be pragmatic sometimes…..
I’ve rarely seen 24.00. Midnight is usually 00.00 when time is presented in a 24-hour format.
P.S. The smiley was unintentional. I was closing a parenthetical comment immediately after a quotation mark, which apparently produces a winking smiley. I’ll use a space next time.
Okay, this is fun. The rest of the chapter.
Brief summary. Not sure I agree on this. If a report is 300,00 words, and there is a summary that is 2,000 words, and another that is 500 words, then the last one is a brief summary. Depends on how many summaries there are.
Close proximity. Usually, perhaps. If we’re talking about something 10,000 feet way, then something ten feet away is in proximity and something one inch away is in close proximity. Depends on context.
Final conclusion. Again, context. If there have been several interim conclusions as a committee has been struggling with an issue, then there can be a final conclusion. (Otherwise not, I agree.)
Hot water heater. One of George Carlin’s classics!
New development. If it’s an ongoing something where there have been a number of developments through the previous months, then there can certainly be a new development.
Okay, on to the next chapter….
Up through Chapter 5, nothing more worth noting. As I said before, I really agree with most of what you write. The things that bug you bug me as well.
In Chapter 6, I have a “Gotcha”! (or, if you prefer, a “Caught you!”). You say, “If I’d have written this book in the 1970s, then ‘cool’ would have belonged in the trendy chapter….” Sequence of tenses. Correctly, that should be, “If I had written…” (or “If I’d written…”).
With respect to “pushing the envelope,” there is a technical background that, I think, makes it more acceptable. See here:
Reply from Paul: Dick, I’m glad that you’re enjoying the book for the most part, and thanks for the “gotcha.” If the book goes to a second printing, then I’ll make sure that it’s changed!
I’m getting tired of the overuse of “impact” to mean “affect”.
Occasionally it is unintentionally humorous, it is still annoying.
“More Buses Impact City Traffic”
Reply: We couldn’t agree more, Scott. It’s in my book…and Sherry wrote a couple of entries about it for the blog, Impact Does Not Mean to Affect and More on Impact.
My grammatical pet peeves are to numerous to mention here. One in particular is the use of the past participle “gotten.” This was not even in the dictionary when I was a child, and the fact that it was added to the dictionary on account of common use doesn’t make it correct, in my opinion.
To answer the question posed in the entry on “anyway” versus “anyways” regarding why people would say a word they don’t write, I ask this question: how many people do you know who speak the way they write? As a person who has proofread and edited for a few years now, and as a former teacher, I more often see people write the way they speak rather than the converse. However, my experience has been that for those of us who do speak the way we write, we can often be considered to be pretentious since we don’t relate to the vernacular spoken form of wherever we live.
My grammatical pet peeves are TOO numerous to mention here…
Some of my favorites are:
1. “…on either side” when the person actually means on BOTH sides. It happens quite often on HGTV.
2. “…more/most importantly” when the correct phrase is “more/most important.” I always ask the person who just used the phrase incorrectly, “Tell me again what’s most importantly?” My husband hates it when I do that.
3. PIN number…Does the number have a number?
5. My sister-in-law once said, “Can you be more pacific?” I said, “No, but I can be more Atlantic.” I blank expression on her face was priceless.
Reply: Thanks, Rachel. These are good additions. In fact, Sherry has already talked about a couple of them (more importantly and irregardless), and I included a couple of them in my book (irregardless and PIN number). I haven’t heard many people say pacific instead of specific, but I’ll keep listening….
Here in the South, you’ll hear “supposably,” which I think is a combination of “supposed” and “probably.”
You certainly could be more pacific than you were when you called attention to your sister-in-law’s mistake, you troublemaker!
My co-worker insists on saying “my point being is”. Why? Why that extra form of the verb “to be” on the end of that phrase? I don’t understand it, but he says it a lot. We’ve shared a cubicle for the past four-and-a-half years, and I’ve never had the heart to say anything about it, but it almost makes me want to shove pencils in my ears.
Incidentally, I find it sort of ironic that one of the previous posters takes the time to point out several grammatical pet peeves, but completely forgoes the use of proper sentence capitalization. E-mail, the Internet, instant messages, Twitter — it doesn’t matter. I think people should put in the effort and write properly, especially on a web site that’s all about language and grammar.
Reply from Paul: We’re glad that you decided to complain to us rather than stick a pencil where it doesn’t belong! By the way, I think there’s a similar trend with the word is, such as What you see is is that people use an extra is in many sentences….
My pet peeve is “every so often.” I’ve never been able to determine how often a so-often occurs, or how to count each and every often. I’ve been ever so diligent to find the answer to that. Maybe you could help? I thank you ever so much.
Reply from Paul: I’ve never thought of that…. I guess it would be better to say every once in a while or on occasion than every so often.
I think that “ever so often” is what is meant.
P.S. While I’m at it, where did “ever so” come from?
Reply from Paul: That sounds like our need for drama at work. It’s not dramatic enough to say I’m so happy; it has to be I’m ever so happy.
It aggravates me to hear “all of the sudden” rather than the correct “all of a sudden”. Also, thanks for the entry on “couple” versus “couple of”. I’d seen that error so much in the last few years I’d questioned whether I’d always been using it incorrectly.
Reply from Paul: Good addition to the pet peeves. Glad you liked Sherry’s “couple of” entry (she’s got a million of ’em); that one does seem to be everywhere.
Pet Peeve? I have several, actually. Your book addressed so many of them; however, may I add?:
The usage of “supposUBly.” Is that in fact a word? No. Needless to say, the speaker intends “supposEDly” but misses the mark quite dramatically. And quite often.
“None” is a singular description, despite the manner in which it may sound. It is a substitute for “not one” or “no one”. For example, “None of us IS going” is the correct usage; but how often do we really hear it spoken that way? Nonetheless, it is correct; and it is of infinite annoyance to me to hear it otherwise.
Lastly (for now), I direct your attention to another of my particular favorites: “So don’t I.” Hello? “So DON’T I”?? Doesn’t the speaker mean “I agree with you,” or appropriately “So DO I”? Why the negative? Sounds horribly stupid. . . . if I were ever asked.
Reply from Paul: You certainly may add yours, Ruthie. They’re great additions, especially that supposubly thing, and Sherry adds “I hate that, too” about none being singular.
My pet peeve is “journaling” instead of keeping a journal. I also want to throw up when I hear “mentee” in reference to a person who has a mentor.
Here’s another: the usage of “whether or not” when “whether” suffices–the “or not” is issued directly from the Department of Redundancy Department.
Reply: Thanks, Michael. Thanks, Michael.
I have two: 1. the misuse of “I think” and “I feel”. I frequently hear “I feel” preceding a thought. Example, I feel we are in a financial crisis. This is a thought, “I think” is appropriate. I believe we use “I feel” frequently because we think it will insulate us from critical comments. Who would think to be critical of my feelings.
2. I hear many fear laden words used by TV and radio broadcasters. Listen closely to the news broadcasts and you will hear “crisis”, “problem”, etc. They are trying to tell us how to respond to the news story instead of just relating the story in as factual manner as possible
Reply from Paul–good points, thanks.
Apart from the usual ones like fewer/less and greengrocers’ apostrophes, my most hated one at the moment is use of “ask” as a noun, as in it’s “it’s a big ask, but we might just do it”. It’s long been in common usage on sports programmes, but I actually heard a presenter on BBC News use it the other day. Aargh!
Reply from Paul: Ask as a noun–I have not heard that here yet, but I’ll listen for it. That’s awful.
My Pet Peeve is “waiting on” instead of “waiting for”. To wait on someone means serving soneone. Too many people don’t know the right prepositions.
I have too many Pet Peeves to list (I get on my own nerves at times!), but here are my top four:
1. Free gift. Is there any other type of gift?
2. “I would like to…” If you would like to, then just do it! You don’t need to introduce it.
2B. “I would suggest…” Same concept. Just suggest it, then!
3. First annual. No. What if it’s a flop? What if it doesn’t happen next year? Perhaps say “First Ever.”
4. Overarching. Who invented this new buzzword? Somebody please make it go away!
Now I have a question. I’m trying to explain to my sister why it’s not proper to say, “That’s a fun painting.” I can’t find anything to back up my gut on this one.
Reply from Paul: Thanks. These are great additions to the list, and if you have more…send them along. I wrote about free gift in my book, by the way.
As far as your question about fun…Sherry plans to write about that this week.
Has anyone else noticed how the word function is not good enough now? Many people are extending it into “functionality”. I don’t know if I am being pedantic but this seems to mean exactly the same thing and is just plain annoying.
Reply from Paul–I’ve noticed, and I couldn’t agree with you more!
This pet peeve has already been noted by yourself and another reader – the incorrect use of the word “impact”. At first, I only noticed this misuse in the U.S.A. but now I have caught a few Aussie journalists misusing it.
(In our schools now, children sometimes get away with using both U.K. and U.S. spelling, e.g. jail and gaol. When I was in school, if I had written jail, it would have been marked as incorrect. The silly thing is not all words are accepted… if you write color instead of colour, it will be marked incorrect. The trick here is knowing WHICH U.S. spellings are accepted and which aren’t… now I have an idea how the Canadians must feel!)
Just remembered a second pet peeve. (My first is the misuse of the word ‘impact’.)
I cringe when I hear people say “I could of…” or “… should of…”
could of? should of? Is it so hard to say ‘could have’ or should have?
If you’re just hearing it, though, isn’t it technically still correct? Because could have is properly verbally expressed “could’ve.” And when you move your tongue down from the roof of your mouth to form the “d” at the end of could, you cannot reasonably already have your lower lip on your upper teeth for the “‘ve,” as that will not allow the sound to sufficiently project within a spoken conversation. Therefore, in order to project one’s speech, one must allow a vowel sound to escape between the “d” and the “‘ve.” This vowel sound, followed by “‘ve,” will create the impression of hearing the word “of,” when it is not truly being spoken.
I could be wrong on this but when I hear could of or should of I see could’ve and should’ve which translates could have and should have. Am I right?
Greetings, When did the phrase, “no problem”, become a substitute for, “you’re welcome?
Reply: Good question–thanks for asking it!
My pet peeves:
1. “think out of the box” instead of the correct “think outside the box”
2. “flush it out” instead of “flesh it out”
and these are used by people with advanced degrees!
Reply from Paul: Thanks for the additions…but…even properly used, isn’t think outside the box annoying enough to be a pet peeve for you? It is for me!
My pet peeve — in fact, it gets my blood racing (and has probably been referred to before on your website) — is the persistent use of the phrase “in terms of” by every idiot politician (to add to his “at this point in time”), thinking it makes him or her sound clever. And see how it’s crept into broadcast media — well, rapidly infected and infested it is probably a better analogy. Which makes me wonder just how erudite our TV and radio interviewers and presenters are. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Whatever happened to “by, with, from, before, in”?
Verbose politic-speak is having the same effect on the English language as the Brittany Spears’ “like”, mentioned in Paul’s book. With stupid (uneducated?) tongue in free-wheel, uncontrolled by any brain cell, the young Brittany wannabees (or those who have been infected by the virus) turn every E! channel interview into a visit to the dentist (for the viewer). Cut out the word “like” from E!, and they’d struggle to fill 24 hours of viewing.
As for the politicians and the brainless yuppie-talk/politico-speak that is infesting our language, I’ve always been of the opinion that the old dictaphone was responsible for the birth of this type of oratory, that all-so-convenient, prepackaged idiot-speak jargon so favoured by business people (mainly accountants, I reckon) and which doesn’t mean anything, but (in their minds) sounds important. It’s like painting by numbers, though instead of oils, the “dictator” reaches for a selection of tubes from amongst hundreds at his disposal and squeezes a bit of (dis)colour from each into his speech: “Take a letter to my board members, Ms Smith: Dear Board Members, In terms of levelling the playing field at this point in time, I’m pleased to report that there has been an exponential paradigm shift as we advance up the learning curve and capitalise on discontinuous change with an intense sense of urgency to sandbox our activity within acceptable constraints.” Huh?
There but for the grace of God (and my computer keyboard) go I. So more power to you and your … er … pen, Paul and Sherry
This will probably fall on deaf ears but here goes…
I see a lot of people complaining about colloquialisms on here. The strangest complaint has been the use of “I feel (like)…” before expressing an idea. You must remember that language is not always mathematical. It’s not [WORD WITH EXACT MEANING] + [WORD WITH EXACT MEANING] + … So you really should not be so annoyed with words attaining a broader meaning, or a set of words becoming acceptable in a new situation.
While many blatant grammatical errors can be annoying (your and you’re, for example), I find colloquial and slang speech very interesting, and the evolution and simplification of communication should not annoy you as much as it does.
Neither should region- or class-specific language. Throw on some Eminem or Biggie and just listen to how they play with lower class language. If you can ignore the black male posturing and violence and just listen (from a linguist’s viewpoint) to how language is manipulated and changed to flow with a beat, you may have a greater appreciation of so-called “impurities” in English. How do you think we got to “modern English” in the first place?
If you’re going to talk about pet peeves, I think the most annoying should be workplace jargon terms that people use just to sound smart. These are down-right useless.
“As per” is probably the worst. I also hate constantly hearing “on a going forward basis,” “touch base,” “shoot me an email,” “send this ‘FYI,'” and all those other blow-hard things. Sportscasters piss me off when they say things like “The Green Bay Packers have perhaps one of the top 4 or 5 passing defenses in the National Football League.” It’s really just taking up space…this reaffirms my conviction that John Madden is the biggest blowhard in the universe.
Some others include:
-Utilize instead of use
-“For all intensive purposes…” (really?)
-When people use two words that mean the same thing, but make them sound different. For example, “Please specify a due date or deadline for this project.”
-Irregardless, anyways (these are classic blowhard terms)
-Using “proactively” before something to show your enthusiasm.
This is an example of something I might actually be expected to send: “We are interested in touching base with you or one of your staff to discuss how our client, on a going forward basis, can proactively assist the State of California in the context of public health.”
Lastly…internet jargon is srsly awesome.
So go listen to some hip hop or something.
Reply from Paul:
I always find it interesting when there is an assumption that the belief in promoting the adherence of certain grammar rules means those who promote the rules don’t understand or don’t care about, or as some (not you) have suggested, want to maintain control over those in different social or economic classes. That’s never the case on this site; we’re here as a resource for those who are interested in traditional grammar rules and other observations related to language and grammar–and there are many.
Thanks for the pet peeves; however, I will suggest that it is perhaps you, not we as you suggest, that should not get so annoyed! 🙂
“Intensive purposes” is a mishearing of “intents and purposes,” which is legalese.
Something else I want to add. Can we please stop saying things like “In these tough economic times…” or “In these times of violence and hate…”
It gets annoying enough hearing it on tv, radio commercials, etc. It’s worse hearing ordinary people say it in conversation.
What’s that? You’ve sat down and analyzed the numbers and you’ve made the conclusion that the economy is in a downturn? You’re currently experiencing economic problems? Well maybe you should stop using tired cliches and get a damn job.
Reply from Paul: I will use the logic of one of your own quotes (with adjustments for the business world) for a reply here: While many blatant grammatical errors can be annoying (your and you’re, for example), I find business speech very interesting, and the evolution and complication of communication should not annoy you as much as it does.
“To be honest with you…” Ugggh! So now you are going to be honest with me? Everything up to this point has been less than honest?
“The fact of the matter is…” If what you are trying to say is so matter-of-fact, then just say it sans verbosity.
I just found your site through a Google search about Bob Costas’ irritation with “controllable destiny”. Your lists are terrific; exactly what I argue all the time.
Here’s a few* of mine:
1. Have you caught (on your site or in your book) “refer back”? I hear this one ALL the time, and it’s either redundant (if we accept the meaning to roughly be “to go back”) or it’s inaccurate if it means to link elsewhere.
2. Another pet peeve is “untimely death” … as in there is no such thing! Every death happens at is predestined time. It may seem to be a tragically short life, as in the death of a child, but it is not “untimely” (… unless we are to accept the sci-fi premise of being able to alter the future, and then, I suppose in some type of “Back to the Future” way, a death was caused that was unintended … alas, I digress, since no one ever uses it in that manner).
3. In sports, the idea that “We wanted it more” is wrong on so many levels … first, just because you won does not mean that the other team did not have a stronger desire to win … second, the desire to win and the ability to execute the plays to win are wholly separate.
4. One of my favorite songs is Beck’s “Where it’s at”, and yet that is horrendously grammatically incorrect! The “at” is a preposition w/o an object! A big “no-no”. The correct(?) phrase should be “Where it is” … which is to state the physical location of an object … but then again, the song is so cool that we just have to let Beck slide on this one (then again, Beck seems like the type who would purposefully play it this way just to mess with people’s head … like the “Ironic” song being ironic for having no irony in it!!).
Looking forward to keeping up with your blog.
* – Does “few” specifically indicate three, or a relatively small # more than two?
I was compelled to look up the word ‘few’ in the dictionary, (actually went to dictionary.com), and I did not see the word three anywhere in the definition.
Regardless of whether “few” is three, two, or more, it’s not correct to say, “Here’s a few …”. I think it should be “Here are a few…”.
This just occurred to me when reading some comments on a youtube video, and I am not sure exactly what is wrong with this, but when people say or write “should of” do they really mean “should’ve” or “should have”?
Reply: This is something that Sherry has written about (could of/should of); it’s becoming more and more common to confuse the two even though they mean different things.
There’s a fun book called Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss on punctuation. Check it out. In response to entry number 65, of course they mean “should have” or “could have”. Its just sounds like “could of” because it’s written “could’ve”.
Reply from Paul: Eats, Shoots and Leaves was published by the same publisher as my book (Penguin), so I’ve heard of it!!
Sherry has written about the could have/should have error here: Could Of, Should Of, Would Of
Oh and one more thing: Less and fewer have to be the most commonly misused words I hear. For example, on the bottom of my TV screen it read, “TNT, less commercials, more …). Less commercials? WRONG. If it can be quantified (or counted), then it’s fewer. If it can’t counted (like milk), then it’s less. For example: I wanted LESS milk than that, but thank you. and: I wish there was FEWER commercials on TV these days.
Reply from Paul: Thanks, Paul–that’s another good error to mention. Sherry wrote about that one as well, Fewer Things, Less Stuff.
My peeve of the day is when the words “then” and “than” are used incorrectly.
For example, “This icecream is better then Ben & Jerry’s.”
And another one…using “could of” in place of “could have”.
Example, “Wow! I could of had a V-8!” (Here, let me smack your forehead for you!)
I’ve got a few pet peeves, too:
Retail staff who have replaced “Thank you” with “Have a nice day.” Two entirely different sentiments, and any salesperson owes a customer the business’s thanks, not a wish for his or her happiness.
A letter which “advises” someone of something when in fact it is “informing” him or her. Unless you are offering advice, don’t tell someone you are.
The use of the symbol “@” to mean the word “at.” “@” means at the rate of, and belongs on billing statements only.
The construction “. . . wait, that did happen.” Talk about trendy and pretentious, especially if it is used repeatedly in a book that purports to be about the abuse of language.
Yours for better grammar,
Reply from Paul: David, thanks for your insightful contribution. I didn’t know that about the @ symbol. I wouldn’t mind some clarification about the “wait, that didn’t happen” peeve, though.
My husband and I met you at the book-signing at Barnes & Noble in State College in October. I’ve recently begun to read your book and am enjoying it very much. In fact, Dick indicated he might mention your book on his author weblog. There is a quote from the introduction that coincides very well with the purpose of his book, “Please Listen to Me!” Watch for it soon at http://www.richardfetzer.authorweblog.com
Reply from Paul: Hi Joanne–how nice to hear from you! It was great to meet you and Dick at Barnes and Noble, and I’m happy to hear that you’re enjoying the book. I’ve been meaning to write a post about all of the great people I’ve met while promoting the book in the last year. I’ll send you an e-mail when you do. Please give my best to Dick.
“I’d love for you to visit me”
“We’re going out for dinner”
“I love that you painted it green”
Now those sentences really hurt the senses.
I came here to read “No Regard for Irregardless”, and thought that you might add a note about the word notwithstanding, which I believe means “not-with-standing” (i.e., despite, or “without standing”) as opposed to “not withstanding”.
(And by the way, another pet peeve of mine is the rule about placing external punctuation marks within quotations.)
“Back in the day…” It’s the most obnoxious trendy expression since “He/she amously said..”
I want to know how far back in the day. Perhaps it refers to the time your alarm clock went off? Give me the old days.”
Reply: We couldn’t agree more.
Does anyone know a sentence in which the word ‘had’ is used nine times in a row, and grammatically correct? I do!
Reply: “Had” trivia–who knew there was such a thing.
Alot of people seem to think it’s allright to say, “doctorial” when discussing advanced degrees anymore.
Did you spot all four of them?
AND the comma after “say,” which divides a verbal from its object. So there were five to spot, not four.
Today’s activities have reminded me of an inexcusable error we see all the time: Referring to someone as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. There is no such office. John Roberts is Chief Justice of the United States. This error is roughly equivalent to calling someone President of the Executive Branch.
My Pet Peeves:
Hisself makes me crazy. I worked with a man who said it in meetings. Finally, I told him how illiterate he sounded. At the next meeting, he used it again. HOPELESS!
My biggest pet peeve, possibly regarding anything, is the use of unnecessary possessives. As in, when something is plural and someone puts apostrophe s to make it so; or when something is abbreviated and the apostrophe is not where the abbreviation was made. I also dislike abbreviations, which is probably curious coming from a high school student who exists in the all too common realm of text, instant message, and other quickened ways of speech. What is worse is when people actualize these abbreviations in their verbal repertoire.
My manager would say “I don’t like you contacting other individuals without letting me know ahead of time.
Isn’t it correct to say “I don’t like your contacting other people without letting me know ahead of time?
My high school teacher always used the same example to illustrate correct grammar.
She would say “which is correct? I don’t like you driving home late at night or I don’t like your driving home late at
When this caused debate, she would say “which is correct? I don’t like you driving, or I don’t like your driving?”
Everyone would agree that the correct phrase is “I don’t like your driving”.
She would then say that what we are describing is the action. Therefore the action is “your driving” not “you driving” This does not change.
So the correct phrase would be “I don’t like your driving home late at night”.
Does anyone remember this?
Reply: Your teacher was correct—and so are you!
My pet peeve is that I have found many, many typos and/or misspelled words on professionally designed websites. Don’t they proofread these days?
Also, the same thing goes for local news programs; misspelled words are used in the captions under the news stories all the time and it really bothers me. These people are supposed to be professionals!
I will be the first to admit that after being around people that misuse the English language every day, I have also picked up bad grammar habits. I promise to do better if they will, (the website designers and the local news people).
Thank you for giving me a forum to complain about this issue. I feel better already. Ellie
I am a high school student that loathes English. It has been asked in previous responses if students are learning the different parts of speech. I learned more English grammar in my Spanish class than in my English/Language Arts classes.
My main pet-peeve is whenever seniors ask for “a letter of recomendation” from their teachers. They should ask for a positive letter of recomendation. This is not technically an error in grammar but bugs me none the less.
There are probably a lot of errors in this letter, so I apologize to those who read it and feel irked. As I stated before, English is not my strong subject.
Thank you for the opportunity to vent,
(Another one of my pet-peeves is when people sign their letter with “thanX”.)
A certain cliche has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time: “Blood is thicker than water.” I never fully understood what it meant, but I assume it means that we should be more loyal to our blood relatives than to others. If that is its meaning, I don’t think it’s conveyed very clearly, and I don’t agree with it anyway.
My other pet peeve is an actual grammatical error. I often hear or read people using “try and” instead of “try to,” along with other similar constructions. Ick.
Just scanning through your blog and had to share my pet peeve with you! I have many grammatical pet peeves but this one is my tops. (I hope it hasn’t been mentioned already). It’s only one word. I just don’t understand how people can’t get it right! The word is “supposedly”. I have heard supposebly so many times my ears hurt now when I hear it. Thanks for letting me share!
Reply from Paul: I don’t think it’s been mentioned before, and it’s similar to the probly error Sherry recently talked about—and probly just as annoying!
I am really irritated when people say “yous” or “yous’ns” when talking to a group of people. Another pet peeve is the use of the word “imply” where “infer” should be used.
Reply: In western Pa., it’s younz!
And by “I am really irritated” I mean “I become really irritated” or whatever fits. Haha.
As soon as I complete my counter-terrorism training with Chloe O’Brien, I’m going to seize root on the computers owned by several people who write to me or write newsletters I read and disable the exclamation point. Overuse of the exclamation point is as juvenile as dotting your i’s with hearts. Really!
Ugh. I dislike exclamation point overindulgences, too.
Also, let’s do away with our vowel obsessions. “Oooooooh” and “hellooooo” should be buried, immediately!
I stumbled upon this site as I was trying to locate verification of the correct use of the word impact. I am grading essays for a contest as a favor to a former colleague. I realized we were headed for danger when the contestants were asked to explain how the contribution of a specific American impacted their lives.
As a supervisor in a call center environment I witnessed verbal assault and battery on a daily basis. We compiled a list of misspellings, inproper word usage, incorrect grammar, etc.just for fun. Even though I laughed about many things I heard and read, I was saddened by the poor communication skills.
Irregardless, my fingernails on the chalkboard pet peeve, was listed a here a few times. It really annoys me that the constant incorrect use of this word has garnered it a listing in the dictionary as non-standard. What a cop out!
Other pet peeves:
Tooken for taken
Most happiest, hardest or most with any other superlative. Yikes.
To instead of too when meaning also.
No instead of Know. ( Not in a text message either)
I love this site. Paul, I am going to purchase a copy of your book this weekend.
Reply from Paul: Thanks, Pam. We’re glad that you found the site, and I hope that you like your book. Based on your pet peeves, you’ll most likely love Sherry’s Grammar List.
I must point out to several posters here that commas and periods should be placed inside quotation marks.
Now for my pet grammar peeves: using refexive pronouns in sentences like this: ‘If there’s a problem, tell John and myself….” or, “They met with Tom and myself to discuss solutions.”
Why have people begun using the conditional “would have” or “would’ve” instead of “had”? As in a Lasik Plus commercial,”I wish I would’ve done it sooner.” instead of “I wish I had done it sooner.” or in a soap opera, ” If you would’ve told me you were pregnant, this wouldn’t have happrned?” instead of, “If you had told me you were pregnant….”
In the same vein…….using myself as the subject of the sentence: “Myself and Michelle went to the movies.”
Do people use this word because they think it makes them sound more intelligent? How sadly mistaken they are!
Here are a few of my personal hated favorites:
1. When people say “sorry, my bad”. BAD WHAT? I’m pretty sure you meant to say “sorry, my ERROR” or “sorry my MISTAKE”.
2. People who “CONVERSATE”………
–you CONVERSE (v) which is to talk back and forth with another person OR
you have a CONVERSATION. (n)
When people (referring to others speaking) say “GOES” instead of “SAID”.
Fred did not “GO” blah blah blah,
……….Fred “SAID” blah blah blah!
To break this severely annoying habit, EVERY time you hear this offense IMMEDIATELY ask the person speaking –“Did they SAY, or did they GO?” They eventually get tired of explaining that the person “SAID” and will start self-correcting their own grammar when they run their yap.
(It’s how my Mom broke my habit, and I broke my son the same way 20 years later). It works.
I know that those of you in customer service also hate this one, when you ask somebody a simple “yes or no” question, or offer a choice and they reply “THAT’LL BE FINE”.
……..UMMM, is that “that’ll be fine, YES PLEASE?” or “That’ll be fine, NO THANK YOU”.
The simple fact that it’s FINE with you, doesn’t really tell me a damn thing at all!!!
Oh, and in the 21st century could we please teach everyone to say it correctly…..say it with me now:
NU–CLE–AR pronounced (noo–klee–ur)
…..from the NUCLEUS of the atom
…..atoms do not have a NUKE–ULUS.
(never had ’em. never will)
“A” before words beginning with consonants.
“AN” before words starting with vowels.
You have A sad expression on your face, or
You had AN emotional day.
So why is everything lately “AN HISTORIC moment”??
And it’s COULD’NT CARE LESS, not COULD care less. (in other words, you care SO very little, that is to say, NOTHING AT ALL, that you possibly could NOT care any “less than NOTHING” so you COULD’NT CARE LESS.
If you COULD care less, obviously you gave a damn “a little bit” and COULD care LESS than “SOMETHING”.
I am sure i can think of more, but I will leave it at this for now, thanks for the grammar rant forum!!
There are several things that bug me, but my biggest, especially since my girlfriend uses it all the time…on accident. It seem to be an anachronism that it is used this way and I think it is wrong when I say “on purpose” and think it is correct. I don’t say purposely, but I say accidentally instead of “on accident”. Is “on accident” really OK to say, and if not, why is “on purpose” OK, or is it not OK also?
Reply: We don’t consider “on accident” to be acceptable, and while your question about the parallel nature of “on purpose” is interesting, that phrase is certainly something that is commonly used and accepted.
A pet peeve:
The loss of the word “other” in comparisons. “It gets better mileage than any car in its class.” What, this car isn’t in its own class?
Looking at the state of writing today, even the posts here (especially my own) that could have used a bit of rewriting I have concluded that we are now more than ever a first-draft society. We send barely literate e-mails rife with errors because we can’t wait to hit that “send” button, and this has spilled over into all of our writing. There are even ‘tweener novels written in text message format. OMG! What is to be done?
You may be interested in the “After Deadline” column in the online New York Times. It deals with style and usage issues in that paper.
Reply from Paul: I agree that we’re largely a first-draft society, and I think that’s fine for some of our communication–and a problem for other types. It’s certainly not like I take as much time writing a comment on a blog or an IM to a friend as I do an entry in a book; it’s not practical. Obviously when the sloppiness spreads to areas where a person is judged on his communication, such as work or school projects, then it’s a potential problem.
In all of these pet peeves, I can’t believe that no one has mentioned the one thing that absolutely sends me around the bend. I hear it almost daily in my conversations with others and especially on television. It is the use of the contraction “there’s” when “they’re” should be used. If you start listening more closely, you will most certainly notice it, too.
Reply: I think what you meant is “there are,” not “they’re,” and we’ve heard it many times–way too many times. Sherry wrote a post about it (subject/verb agreement).
Oh my gosh! I’m a goober. Of all the places to make that mistake, I had to choose this one. How ironic. Yes, you are correct. That is precisely what I meant. They use the contraction “there’s,” instead of “there’re.”
Reply: What’s a little goober between grammar friends!
Some of my favorites:
Hot water heater. We could save lots of energy by not heating water that was already hot!
Impacted. You may have impacted teeth. Your bowels may be impacted because your diet lacks fruit or vegetables. But “impacted” is NOT a verb.
Just because,____ doesn’t mean….
I loathe this expression. A proper sentence needs at least one independent clause to make any sense. Just because. You have two dependent clauses doesn’t mean you have a sentence.
I can’t stand when people say “Same difference”… to me 4 minus 2 and 10 minus 8 equal a same difference… this only works in math, NOT grammar.
irregardless – don’t even need to expound on that one I think
“I’m going to go ahead and ______”. Just do it already, don’t “go ahead and….”
“How Come? – IE: How come they didn’t eat? – WHY, people, WHY!!!??
You can “ASK” me a question.
Use an “AXE” to chop down a tree.
No, you cannot “AXE” me a question.
Why do we say a “PAIR” of pants? I am confused.
Don’t you literally mean a pair of “PANT LEGS”?
Strange……..I can’t help but notice that when I have A PAIR of pants, I only have ONE article of clothing, and not two.
When I have TWO PAIRS of pants, I don’t have FOUR articles of clothing, only a total of TWO.
This is very odd because if you add two pairs of anything else together, you get a total of four!
From now on, I will be shopping for PANT LEGS, not “pants” and I will buy them by the pair.
(I made this up many years ago, and use it strictly for entertainment purposes). I tell people, “If you are going to use grammer improperly, at least do it in the correct tense”. For example:
You don’t say, “I RINGED the doorbell”.
You say, “I RUNG the doorbell”. Therefore,
you don’t say, “I BANGED on the door”.
You say, “I BUNG on the door”.
Those who laugh, get the joke. Those who question whether or not that is correct, make ME laugh at their obvious lack of grammar knowledge!
IS’NT GRAMMAR FUN BOYS AND GIRLS??
I love this site.
I took advantage of an article posted here to support my stand regarding the use of most important/most importantly.
I am in the minority with regard to using “most important.”
Reply from Sherry: We’ll make it a majority one person at a time. We’re glad that you like the site.
I am very happy that nobody is waiting for the Government to send them a STIMULUS-ATIFI-CATION-ISM check…………….so far.
Reply: Or a stimulus–ality check.
(while still a school student in middle-school)
My son would ask, “Hey Mom, can I ask you a question”?
I would reply, “You just did. Would you like to ask another one”?
He quickly changed his approach to this by asking me (the first time) “Hey Mom, can I ask you ANOTHER question”?
To this, I would reply “Yes you may”.
Needless to say, when his friends were visiting and heard this, it raised many eyebrows, and confused them terribly.
I still find it very humorous when I can use it in conversation, and it still gets the same confused response. (like the previous Pacific/specific Atlantic response posted by Rachelle )
……Just keep it in mind next time you have to ask a dragon for information so you don’t get shorted one opportunity for FURTHER inquiry.
……and the ever-popular “DISORIENTATED”. (ugh!) This word makes me want to slap people.
You “ORIENT” something. Meaning to place it in a specific area, or arangement, etc.
You “DIS-ORIENT” something by changing it’s position, or removing it from it’s original place, or “ORIENT-ATION”.
You can be “DIS-ORIENT-ED”. Meaning “TO BE IN A STATE OF DISORIENT-ATION”.
You do not “DIS-ORIENT-ATE” anything, or anybody. It’s simply NOT a word. Seriously people, how many suffixes can one word stand??
It’s like saying that a police officer
“DISARMIFIED” a man with a gun.
You “armed” or “disarmed” the man. You did NOT “DISARM-IFY” him.
“orientation” (placement) (N)
you “orient” or “disorient” something (V).
you can be “disoriented” (ADJ)
If this one does not stop, we will eventually have a major state of DIS-ORIENT-IFI-CATION-ISM going on in the world of communication!!
“May I help who’s next?” says the cashier or other retail employee to the next person waiting in line. How did this annoying usage become ubiquitous, or is it just a New England thing? What’s so hard about saying, “May I help the next person in line?”
My brain is running double-time!! (SORRY)
you are not…………YOU’RE not………..you AREN’T
he is not……………..HE’S not……………..he ISN’T
she is not……………SHE’S not……………she ISN’T
we are not………….WE’RE not…………..we AREN’T
it is not………………IT’S not………………..it ISN’T
they are not……….THEY’RE not……….they AREN’T
I am not……………..I’M not………………..I AMN’T
(please tell me why this does not work!!)
AREN’T covers ‘are not’ and ‘am not’ according to the dictionary, but that seems incorrect to me.
……….It covers the ‘plural’ and the ‘singular’.
But “AM” is strictly bound to “I” grammatically.
You say: WE ARE NOT (plural) not, WE AM NOT.
You say: I AM NOT (singular) not, I ARE NOT.
So, how in the world does AREN’T get the honor of covering both connotations (are not/am not) and “AMN’T” gets kicked to the curb, and doesn’t even rate as a word??
I know it sounds completely stupid to say AMN’T, but why is it NOT “technically” correct if used in speech that way (in the singular)???
Can the grammar experts “PLEASE” shed some light on this idiosyncracy for myself, as well as any other persons who may have ever taken note of it?
I LOVE THIS SITE………….(can you tell)??
I believe it has to do with the awkwardness of pronouncing ‘amn’t’. Remember that grammar doesn’t tell us how to talk, but describes how we already talk. Language had been developing for a LONG time before grammar came along. Today’s agreed-upon usage conventions are tomorrow’s grammar. My mom still can’t stomach ‘He’s taller than me,’ yet several grammar books deem it as correct, not even just an alternative.
To add to Laura’s comment:
I had a co-worker who constantly said:
“Can I help WHO’S EVER NEXT?”
NOT just a New England thing I promise!
This offense took place in Arizona.
…..get the car and ‘drive me crazy’. AAAGHH!!
I always ask if I may help the next person in line.
Personally, I just yell “Next”. Rude, I’ll agree, but certainly effective.
And in retail, effective is all you really want.
I work as a GIS Technician (cartographer) and my collegues insist on using the phrase “ground truthing” when they mean “verifying the data in the field” or “field checking.” Perhaps I’m being oversensitive (after all, it’s not as though I’m Miss English Major, myself) but it grates. It strikes me as a silly piece of jargon designed to make something unremarkable and straight-forward sound as though it’s something secret and special.
We certainly agree–it sounds similar to what Sherry just wrote about with telephonically.
“The thing is is…” I think the second “is” is actually a slurring of “as” which can sort of take the place of the conjunction “that”, though it is supposed to take an infinitive predicate in doing so. E.g. “would you be so kind as to pass the salt” = “would you be so kind that you pass the salt”.
And when are people going to stop saying “my bad”? They sound like idiots. It’s so ungrammatical, I couldn’t even figure out what they were saying for a long time.
I could go on all day. I’ve got a spreadsheet full of this stuff.
I found your site trying to win the peaked v. piqued argument — I won. My biggest pet peeve, which doesn’t appear to be listed:
I heard one yesterday on our local late night news that caught my attention: The city will be replanting the trees it has cut down.
Can you tell me how they can replant dead trees?
Thanks, Pamela–that’s funny!
About Dick’s comment on August 24, 2008…
Your book supposedly said, “If I’d have written…” I see “I’d” as a contraction for “I would,” not for “I had.” So your sentence says, “If I would have written…” As long as you were alive in the 70’s, the sentence makes perfect sense. There is no need to change that sentence in a future edition. Keep up the good work! I am about to purchase your book.
I’ll have to look at that reference more closely, but what you’re saying makes sense. Thanks, Stephen–I hope you enjoy the book.
I searched this page and was surprised not to see my own pet peeve: “different than.”
Item X cannot be “different than” item Y. It can be more “different than” item Y is from item Z, but if you only have two items to compare, they are “different from” each other, not “different than.”
If you use the verb form, it’s glaringly apparent:
“X differs than Y.” – or – “X differs from Y.”
And another thing: When did the past tense of “to lead” become “lead”? It’s been years since I’ve seen “led” in print. Is it being confused with the way “to read” is conjugated? Or with the noun “lead” which is pronounced the same but refers to an elemental metal?
Confusing bring and take. As in, “Do you want me to bring the kids to the park?”
I agree completely with the person who pointed out the confusion between when and whenever. When water freezes, it expands. How utterly wrong is that sentence! And then there are those who claim smoking is not healthy. Untrue! Yet you hear statements like this from all kinds of people, respected writers, eminent scientists, respected greengrocers. In fact, I’d say the great majority of people use these words in these incorrect ways. Makes me feel rather special, being better than them.
I should clarify my last post: smoking, I meant to say, is neither healthy nor unhealthy. Healthy means possessing health, not causing health. The other thing that aggravates me (and I use that word in its correct sense of making a bad thing worse) is the use of ‘less’ for countable things. If people stopped and thought about it for two minutes – or even fewer – they’d see that this sounds – I just thought of this excellent simile – like nails on a blackboard.
No offense, but find it somewhat ironic Amanda mis-spelled “grammar.” At the same time, I agree with her statemint.
I think the word “awesome” is used way to much. Granted, I’m an optimist and am glad to hear people are awe-inspired by nearly everything, but perhaps we could refine our descriptions or at least have fun making up new ones.
That band is “awesome.”
This class is totally “awesome.”
This sauce is “awesome.”
Puppies are “awesome.”
Awesome is “awesome.”
And…I’m sure that Amanda would find it somewhat ironic that you misspelled statement while pointing out her mistake. 🙂
I’m just having some fun. The blog is not about being perfect–even the Your Pet Peeves page. I’m sure that you’ll notice many of the comments, including the one about awesome, is about words or phrases that are annoying for various reasons.
Another one that just shows how ignorant people are: when people say something is ‘between’ more than two items; for example, ‘Switzerland is between France, Italy and Germany’. When there are more than two, the correct preposition is ‘among’.
I think ignorant is a bit strong…
I’M CALLING YOU OUT ON THIS ONE!!
Ok, I have a problem with this peeve of yours.
Your are correct, AND incorrect.
To say a thing is “BETWEEN” other things, you are refering to a ‘specific’ thing, and its relative placement to other things surrounding it.
To say a thing is “AMONG” other things, implies a “blending”, “mixing”, or “grouping” of items, and not so much about it’s ‘specific’ location.
For examples: A book on a SHELF would be BETWEEN other books, even though there are many of them, but a book placed in a bin of books (with no specific boundaries for the intermingled items) would be described as AMONG the other books.
Likewise, Switzerland IS “BETWEEN” France, Italy and Germany. –this refers to it’s specific placemant and boundaries. You would refer to Switzerland as being “AMONG” the countries of Europe. (referencing grouping, NOT placement).
To say Switzerland is it “AMONG” France, Italy and Germany implies that is has no borders, and is “blended” into the three other countries that surround it.
The letter “M” is “BETWEEN” the letters “L” and “N”, but it is “AMONG ” the letters of the alphabet.
Holly Street is “BETWEEN” Main Street and Magnolia Street, but Holly Street is “AMONG” the streets of the neighborhood.
(Would the witness care to recant his testimony and adjust his prior statement to the jury)….???
I recant unreservedly — all of it. I don’t believe any of the nonsense I have posted. Neither do I believe 90% of the grammar points posted here. These rules are not followed by most people — not everyday people, not the best writers of English. None of the justifications for these pseudo-rules hold water: logic, avoidance of ambiguity, etymology, custom.
Contrary to what’s been said on this site, educated and expert users of English DO (correctly) use ‘less’ for countable nouns, use ‘that’ to introduce non-restrictive clauses, use ‘healthy’ to mean ‘healthful’, and do say ‘could have’ in a way that sounds remarkably similar to (exactly the same as) ‘could of’ (could uv).
Reply: Enjoy life on the other side of grammar———-what we call the dark side (hahaha)———good luck.
I love this blog and the way you protect English from the barbarians. Just the other day, someone asked me, “Is there much data on this disk?” It was horrific. I wanted to scream at him, or at least tear my eardrums out and eat them. Data is a plural noun. He should have said, of course, “Are there many data on this disk”. When I answered, “very few”, he had the audacity to look at me as if I were the one not talking English!
“Are there many peanut butter on this bread?”
I’m on a roll! I also hate when people treat stamina as an uncountable noun. It’s a plural, people! Doesn’t anyone study Latin anymore? I also hate when people mispronounce questionnaire with a ‘kw’ sound and skiing with a ‘k’. And people who can’t pronounce shibboleth. And I hate when people start sentences with conjunctions. That’s about all I hate, at the moment. Thanks.
Ok, you know as well as I do that ‘QU’ is taught and pronounced as ‘KW’ in English grammar.
NO French word used in American grammar is pronounced with the French accent. All the word pronounciations are ‘flattened out’ for us.
My SEA-DOO is made by BOMBARDIER. Pronouced: BOM-BAr-De-YAY.
But BOM-BA-DEER is the way all the people I ever met pronounce that word.
GIVE THE POOR AMERICAN SLOBS A BREAK.
Heck, if they can SPELL the word questionnaire, I give them full credit on this one!!
A very unique experience.
This has become a commonly used phrase along with others such as very frequently or very common.
Unique means one of a kind. If something is very unique the implication is that there are others similar and therefore this item or experience isn’t unique at all.
Frequently means often; many times; at short intervals. Very frequently becomes redundant.
Common means ordinary. Very common becomes redundant. It also says that something is more ordinary than ordinary. Or more average than average
I know these phrases have turned into common usage language but it bothers me. It feels as if the power of the words are being taken away by trying to make them more of what they already are.
Will you please add ensure/insure to your list of words frequently misused?
Thanks–that’s a good suggestion.
Also affect and effect. Both can be nouns and both can be verbs, but the meanings are highly different.
I have a few grammatical pet peeves that seem to crawl up my spine and lay eggs!
1.) I hate how widely accepted the word “conversate” has become. You converse, thus having a conversation; not a conversatation!
2.) It annoys me when the word realtor is pronounced realator, with three syllables.
3.) I cannot stand when someone uses I instead of me in a sentence, in an attempt to sound proper, as in, “The letter was sent to Jim and I.” You wouldn’t say, “The letter was sent to I,” thus the appropriate phrase would be, “The letter was sent to Jim and me.”
Well, I read through this quickly and may have missed my pet peeves. They’re about pronunciation, rather than grammar and news people on television are doing this more every day:
1. Fill, instead of feel.
2. Pill, instead of peel.
3. Mill, instead of meal.
4. Dill, instead of deal.
5. Hill, instead of heal.
6. Rill, instead of real.
7. Sill, instead of seal.
8. Will, instead of wheel.
9. Wut, instead of what.
To me, this “sims” just lazy.
Finally, when did we add syllables that aren’t necessary?
1. This is so coo-ul.
2. Today was the last day of schoo-ul.
I can’t believe I forgot this pet peeve.
The inaccurate use of the word “orientate” sets my teeth on edge. According to Webster, to orientate is to face east. Year after year, teachers, of all people, perpetuate the misuse of this word. When they attend orientation, they say they are being orientated. The proper use is orient.
When you call them on it, MOST of them know the use is inaccurate but they say it’s commonly used. So apparently they’re just passing it on to our children.
I apologize for any potential errors here, as I am new. I am still getting orientated to this sight. I look forward to conversating with yous about talking good, though.
Seriously, though, there is a common grammatical error of which I am getting quite tired of. It seems that an increasing number of people do not know the proper part of a sentence in which to place the preposition in. Therefore, they decide to utter a grammatical abomination in which they repeat the preposition at the end of the sentence in. As a result, this glaring grammatical error distracts the reader (or listener, more commonly) from the broader point to which the author is alluding to.
We need to devise a campaign with which we can educate the masses with. I am, of course, referring to the redundancy of which I am so tired of. It is not just the preposition with which people end their sentences with; but rather, it is the fact that the prepositions appear twice which makes no sense if English is the language in which you are speaking in.
So let’s stop the redundancy with which we are murdering the English language with, and speak correctly!
That’s an error that I hadn’t noticed, but I’ll listen for it now. You make a good point about distraction–mistakes do often distract the listener from the point of the discussion.
HOLY GEE WHIZ!
There’s so much here, I don’t know which part of it with which to begin with, so I won’t.
Just want to say…..GOOD ONE!
So many pet peeves, so little time ….
Have you noticed what I like to call “Gerund News?” You could also call it “headline news.” It’s an annoying trend common among TV and radio news people, who, in their desire to bring us all the news as quickly as possible, speak in an abbreviated form, omitting auxiliary verbs and just going with the gerunds.
For example: “Wells Fargo reporting that the first three months of the year looking good.” Huh?
I blogged about it here –
P.S. Paul, I just learned of your book and look forward to adding it to my collection!
It’s refreshing to see so many people who seem to care about our language and can ‘conversate’ about it in such a civil and good natured way!
Many of my favorite pet peeves have been discussed here, among them the ubiquitous “He took she and I to lunch” gaffe. My greatest objection to this ridiculous ‘over-correction’, which has not been mentioned here, is that quite often (at least in MY experience, growing up in the US) it is teachers and school administrators who are most guilty of using this abominable construction.
Am I the only one who has noticed this?
Matt, I have noticed this too. In fact, I was prompted to post my pet peeve above after watching a video of Harry Wong, who gives classroom management seminars to teachers. One of the quotes from the videos, as well as his book, is:
“Students can only be responsible if there are procedures to which they can be responsible to.”
Wong is not only a teacher, but a teacher of teachers! So I agree, Matt. I am a teacher, and I teach music, not language arts — but I still choose to speak correctly, and I get annoyed when my co-workers choose otherwise.
It does seem that in many circles composed of otherwise educated people that the greater emphasis is on speaking like other members of that profession rather than simply using the language correctly. Granted, social pressures are always present in language, but of all people teachers should strive hardest to resist this. Lawyers tend to be even worse offenders because they butcher English AND Latin…but they don’t profess to be educators! I won’t go into how poorly this reflects upon the state of education in this country because of course that’s a ‘whole nother’ topic!
“CONVERSATE” IS NOT A WORD!!
I haven’t read all the comments yet, so forgive me if this peeve has already been addressed. It is my pet peeve when people replace “since” or “because” with “being as” or “being as that”. I find it even more annoying when it is pronounced “beans that”.
One of my pet peeves is related to money. For example, a store has a sign on items saying they are ” .50 cents” each for example. They never will sell me those items for a half cent each though.
A M E N ! ! ! ! !
One that I first heard on sportscasts–“Back in the day.” Does that refer to breakfast?
When a baseball player drives in one run, it is called an ‘RBI,’ shorthand for run batted in. But if he drives in 112 runs, he is credited with 112 RBI. Shouldn’t he have 112 R’sBI? Either way, he’ll get a hefty raise.
Re: I know a sentence in which the word “had” is used correctly 10 times.
“John had failed the grammar test because where he had had ‘had ,’ she had had ‘had had. ‘Had had’ had been the correct answer.
Why is ‘pet peeves’ used to describe things that annoy us? The word ‘pet’ in the dictionary is defined as something cherished. Do we actually cherish these particular peeves? It is also defined as a verb – to be peevishishness, and as a noun – to be peevish. Doesn’t that make the term ‘pet peeve’ redundant? So I guess that spells doom for those of us whose ‘pet peeve’ is redundancy. Guess it’s a rap or is it wrap for us. ( by the way spelling doom other than in a spelling bee is one of mine along with rap or wrap whichever one prefers )
Came across your blog doing a google for literally.
I have had a pet peeve about the misuse of literally that took off when I heard an interviewee on the radio talk about someone “literally cherry-picking the best students.” My favorite is ,”That gymnast is literally pushing the envelope with this routine.”
Anyway, today I found myself saying, “The pollen literally rains off these pine trees.” Is rain the only thing that can literally rain? After all, ash rains down after a volcanic blast. Opinion?
Is there a shadenfreudic word for being guilty of your own pet peeve?
Yes, there is: “oops.”
Please comment on the use of the word “only”.
The detective is interviewing the arrestee. The arrestee says “I robbed the bank.” But then he changes the sentence to include the word “only.” How does the meaning change?
Only I robbed the bank. (Nobody helped me.)
I only robbed the bank. (I didn’t shoot the teller.)
I robbed only the bank. (I didn’t rob the liquor store.)
I robbed the only bank. (There’s not another one in town.)
My biggest pet peeve is “these ones”. Makes me cringe just thinking about someone saying “these ones” instead of “these”.
Sherry couldn’t agree more–she wrote a post about it (These ones).
“A group of women are having lunch at a restaurant.” Shouldn’t it be “A group of women IS…”?
Some collective nouns look singular but can use a plural verb. I believe this is one of them.
Some examples are “a bunch” “a lot” “a ton” and there are many others.
I keep hearing a radio commercial for a program called “Showbiz Tonight” on HLN that goes like this:
“It’s completely like nothing you’ve ever seen.”
Every time I hear it, it drives me batty, but I haven’t found the grammar rules to justify my reaction. Is it just me, or is that bad grammar?
“Personally, I just worry about my own self.”
I hear this periodically, and I always think, “Who’s other self might concern you?”
Maybe ‘own self’ is restricted for use by people who suffer from multiple personalities. This may help them differentiate the inner self for which they are speaking, clearing up any confusion between the different voices rattling around inside their brain.
I have many pet peeves (hmm, if there are many, can they all be “pet” peeves, or are they just peeves?), but the two that come to mind right now are:
1. “ATM machine.” Really? You need to use the automatic teller machine machine?
2. “Needs ___.” Out here in Colorado, people say things like, “The car needs fixed” or “She needs smacked.” What happened to the verb “to be”?
A few more: the misuse of advise/advice, lose/loose, loath/loathe, its/it’s and the ubiquitous mistakes involving their/there/they’re as well as your/you’re.
I think any student, lover, or admirer of language should understand that a certain element of fluidity is necessary. In fact, I would argue that modern English is a product of fluidity. Sure, the cause of The Great Vowel Shift is a mystery, but it seems to me that no one would choose to make English more difficult or cumbersome. Language facilitates communication.
We ought to remember that grammar was created after language in hopes to organize speech and writing. Sometimes, as anyone who has tried to organize anything knows, you must create exceptions, allow for changes in the organizational framework. Disallowing any changes or exceptions to grammar is a bit of the ham-butt problem (http://www.ted.com/talks/erin_mckean_redefines_the_dictionary.html @4:50)
I guess my pet peeve is adhering to strict, conservative grammar rules with no room at all for expansion.
Oh, and one of my favorite grammar-geek sentences: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
“Makes no logical sense” is quite terrible.
I keep intruding with errors in pronunciation, rather than grammar. In communicating with others, grammar, spelling and pronunciation must work together. If they don’t, why should we teach any of them in school?
When my first child was learning to speak and spell, the big “new” thing was called phonetics. That evolved into phonics with my younger children. I began to understand why everyone in my family could spell (other than the fact that some of them were teachers). When we asked our mother how to spell something, she pointed us to the dictionary. Then she had us sound it out. In the case of exceptions to the rules, she helped a little but we usually managed it on our own. Doing so imprinted it on our memories, so we had to ask fewer questions. In the end, with the printed word before us, he had the spelling, the pronunciation, the meaning and the use in a sentence. Therefore, there were fewer chances for misuse of a word.
I know this all seems so elementary and even an insult to most people. If it doesn’t, it should. These are things everyone should know by the lower elementary school grades.
To make my point, imagine yourself as a small child, learning to read, spell and speak properly. There’s no adult near you to help and in a television commercial, you hear what is being pronounced mukiss. With that pronunciation, how would you know the spelling you’re looking for is mucus or mucous. If you’re really sharp and well trained, you’ll keep looking until you find what you need. If you’re not, you’ll embarrass yourself by misspelling it on paper. Or maybe not. Maybe you’ll be one of the fast-growing part of our population that just doesn’t care. If that’s the case, I don’t have to read what you write and I don’t have to listen to what you say.
The contaction amn’t, it’s not so much of a pet peeve but, I would like to ask if it should be used in english grammer. It is logical to combine am and not into amn’t even though we have the the phrase “I’m not”, “I amn’t is logical. Does anyone think it should be used? Is it even gramatically correct?
Well, I suppose if we allow ‘amn’t’, we must consider ‘willn’t’, too. Personally, I hope we never witness this digression.
Language and rules of grammar are not always logical, and even my elementary school english teachers were loathe to allow contractions of any sort unless they were used in dialect or when writing in the first person. I think there’s a certain flow that’s missing when attempting to disregard contractions in the two writing forms mentioned, but some may disagree.
“Amn’t” is Irish, late 19th/early 20th century. My grandmother used it, and you’ll find it in the movie “Widows Peak.”
I do not like text message speak.
I do not like the fact that college students do not do original research anymore, because all you do is google a title of paper or a topic you are writing about and their it is.
The biggest pet peeve I have is when people try to sound smarter than you by using big words that have nothing to do with the topic of of conversation.
Just read your book and it’s great. I don’t think you missed anything. Every time I thought of something, I’d read a little more and there it was.
I’d like to add that I’d love to Wikipedia something but to get to Wikipedia, I’d have to Google or Bing it.
Keep up the good work,
Fran, I’m so happy that you enjoyed the book, and I appreciate your taking the time to let me know.
I just found your site and look forward to reading the book.
My pet peeve is when people say it’s a mute point. No. It’s not. It is a moot one.
Welcome–glad you found the site, and I hope you enjoy the book.
It’s a good pet peeve, too!
Well Paul, for years now, I’ve been bothered by the people who ask, “What is your social?”. I’ve always been tempted to answer, dancing or sitting around and talking to friends. But I decided to just play their little game and try to ignore it.
Now that I’ve learned to cope with that one, I’m hearing, “What is your so security number?”. Does that mean that in school, they’re studying the so sciences or if a person is not very outgoing, he’s said not to be very so?
I have taken Spanish in both high school and college and later on participated in a number of Spanish immersion courses and camps in Spain, Mexico and Columbia, but I have always had a problem maintaining and even advancing my fluency afterward. That is my pet peeve as it is more difficult than it first appears.
Now, being fairly fluent in Spanish I have found that classes and computer based instruction are usually below my mastery level. Movies and novels are OK, but are not as personal and memorable. They are easy to forget as they are sort of optional. What has worked well for me recently are online classes in which I can chat to someone to improve my conversational skills. I have been happy with http://personalspanish.net/ which offers classes from a variety of teachers that fit my schedule. I work long hours.
Do you know of anyone with a similar problem and how have they managed?
Would you check the grammer of the following sentence :
“I disagree with this appraisel and i think it was overlooked because …….”
With just a quick look, I can tell you that APPRAISAL is misspelled, the pronoun “I” should be capitalized, there should be a comma before the word AND because it begins an independent clause, and the way that it was written, the writer is saying that he disagrees with the appraisal and that it was overlooked. Well, if it was overlooked, that means that it wasn’t looked at, so how could the writer either agree or disagree with it? It’s not only a grammar problem but also a logic problem.
I just emailed Academy and Dannon about their misuses of the word “everyday.” Academy claims to have “Right gifts, low prices, everyday!” why Dannon says to use their yogurt “Everyday.” I hope they correct their mistakes.
H-E-B grocery company still refuses to correct their tortilla packaging that says, “Made fresh everyday.” I have emailed them 4 times now and I refuse to buy their tortillas until they correct it.
I cannot believe how ignorant the market executives of these big companies are of the English language.
I find it interesting that what bothers one person has little effect on another. For example, I hate hearing “Where’s it at?” rather than “Where is it?”, but this is common usage here in Central Illinois. My friend, who is a high school counselor, says this usage doesn’t really bother her. What she hates is “Let’s go out to Walmart,” rather than simply “Let’s go to Walmart,” and I have never been bothered by that. Hmmm.
What a great blog! My favorite discussion was the “reason why” section.
I find the Food Network’s use of the language bothersome as well. The hosts/hostesses brown off, grill up, serve up and season up.
I also hate the word “absolutely” used in place of “yes.”
Final peeve of the moment is with local newscasters. As soon as they say “now,” I switch stations. It’s misused and overused as in “The distinction between full-time and part-time work is clear. NOW the real problem is health benefits.”
We’re glad that you like the blog, and thanks for the good additions to the pet pet peeves list. Paul wrote about the overuse of prepositions in Literally, the Best Language Book Ever, but focusing on the Food TV aspect would make a good post–one of us will have to write about that.
One that makes me cringe is “If I would have known, I wouldn’t have gone,” which should be, “If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone.”
Unlike some other bad usage listed here, I can’t really see what caused the original confusion here. I think it’s just from a devil-may-care approach to speaking and writing.
“Different than” instead of ”different from.” Drives me nuts.
“…in every way, shape or form.” So annoying…
“Everyone” + ”their” (As in “everyone is entitled to their opinion.”)
I didn’t find this in the book and a search here didn’t turn it up. This makes me want to scream and as usual, it’s being repeated often by news people.
As an example, am I correct that one should say either “one to ten” or “between one and ten” and not “between one to ten”?
You are correct, Fran, and we’ll listen for it from news people.
Is saying ‘these ones’ really wrong?
It is redundante, and Sherry wrote about it here.
Thanks, but why is ‘this one’ correct and ‘these ones’ not?
Ones is not a proper plural—unless you’re talking about dollar bills.
Could you tell me whether or not this usage of ‘slient’ is correct and should it be ‘silent’ or ‘silence’?
The sentence is: ….but that doesn’t mean to keep silent over what she always does.
Thanks a lots.
The correct answer is…drum roll please…silent. And you’re welcome.
Dear Paul and Sherry,
I love reading the “Pet Peaves” comments. Could you please set up your site so the latest comments are at the top of the list? I would really appreciate that.
Thanks for the suggestion, Doug. I’ll have to look and see if it’s possible with WordPress.
I have two pet peeves that really annoy me.
They both might just be regional but they both are terrible.
The first is when somebody is saying that they “were not ready to go home” for example, will say “I won’t ready to go home.” In other words “I will not ready to go home.” That just kills me.
The second is one that particular co-worker of mine uses constantly. The word GAVE apparently does not exist in his vocabulary. He will say “I give’em a file yesterday to process.” or “They give me the document last week but I haven’t had time to review it.”
Is this just an Eastern North Carolina issue or more common?
One thing that’s bothered me for years is the misuse of the word incidences instead of incidents. I understand what the confusion is but it’s another thing that, used often, is becoming part of our language.
“Incidences” for “incidents” is also a pet peeve of mine. It became especially grating during the course of a 2-week trial where the attorney for the opposing side used “incidences” on a regular basis. And he has a bit of a lisp, to boot!
So dismayed and annoyed was I by this attorney’s repeated verbal assaults — and to confirm that perhaps I was not incorrect in my usage — that I checked my trusty Merriam Webster Collegiate and my unabridged Random House dictionaries. No dictionary I have consulted identifies “incidences” as a plural form of “incidence.”
Though I have not again encountered the lisping attorney in the courtroom, I have no doubt he continues to annoy judges, juries, and all others in the vicinity with his explanations about the incidences that caused and led up to his clients’ misfortunes.
I knew I wasn’t the only person driven to distraction by this. You’re quite a writer. I can just see this guy spitting all over the place. I suppose it isn’t nice to make fun of a disability but an attorney should know better.
Perhaps someone should slip him a copy of the New Collegiate (still my favorite) with the proper spot marked. Maybe he could substitute a word such as…….well, I can’t think of a word that wouldn’t produce the same effect…..as far as saliva is concerned, that is.
Thanks for the comic relief, Cassie.
Aha Paul! You didn’t let me down.
After seeing a really annoying commercial many times, I first checked the book. Of course, you have it covered. The offending word is literally.
In this commercial, a woman said, “I literally fell out of my chair”. Maybe she figuratively fell out of her chair but probably not literally.
On page 8 of your book, you write, “If you were so scared that you literally jumped through the roof, then there’d better be a hole in your roof and a bandage on your head.”
The sad thing is that this tactic didn’t work. I can’t even remember what that commercial was selling.
Glad I didn’t let you down! lol
Hello. Fantastic job, if I wasn’t so busy with my school work I read your entire site. Thanks!
Dear Paul and Sherry,
A colleague uses “so” with “I don’t think” like it’s grammatically wrong if she doesn’t! Two good examples are “I don’t think so I’m attending the barbecue party” or “I don’t think so it’s necessary to read all the e-mails”. I feel guilty for not correcting her but I also think it’s impolite to correct her! What a predicament!
Although increasing use of “as well” instead of “too” or “also” is a peeve of mine, Im not really clear on the differences. My understanding is that “too” and “also” can be used interchangeably. The use of “as well”, however, is a bit different. It is a comparative. For example, it would fine to say, “I like Bob, too.” In just a small twist, it would NOT be fully correct to say, “I like Bob as well.” However, I could say the following: “I like Sally, and I like Bob as well.” My belief is that the growing use of “as well” to replace “too” and “also” is based on a false sense of sophistication. Some see “as well” as more upper crust, and they see “too” as almost informal. I’d love to see some discussion of your thoughts.
I agreed, Doug.
Our language seems to be caught between the desire for one group of users to feel sophisticated and another not to care if they sound ignorant. Those of us who love this language are the losers.
I know someone is going to argue that change is part of a language but should it be changed because it makes it easier to use or because the number of users forces a word or phrase into all the dictionaries? What has happened to the rules of grammar?
I have a question.
Is it correct to say “covered with” or “covered in” or both? I would say a person is covered with a blanket or wrapped in a blanket but not covered in.
Therefore, when someone says, “the ground is covered in snow” or “my clothes were covered in mud” would that be incorrect? Would it be more correct to say something like “the ground is buried in snow”?
This is something that has bothered me for a long time. Am I incorrect? Am I just too picky? Am I just too old? Don’t know about the first one but the second and third are probably true. 8^)
Talking about the franchise:
Many of my “favorite” pet peeves are listed here, and although I haven’t read your book yet, I’m curious: did you include the star problem-child of the 2000 election?
Disenfranchise. It makes my skin crawl. It makes me feel like I need to /scream/ incoherently at the television, and I often do. No one seems to understand when I explain the following:
The “franchise” is the right to vote.
When a group of people are “enfranchised,” they are given that right.
Franchise, as in “the right to vote,” drives me absolutely bonkers. During the 2000 election, I thought I’d pull my hair out before people stopped misusing “disenfranchise,” and in the years since, people have become so accustomed to my explanation that they cut me off mid-stream.
The franchise is the right to vote.
To be enfranchised is to be given the right to vote.
To be disfranchised is to have that right taken away.
No one has their right to vote “take away given”.
I’m also incensed by the use of “disenfranchised” to mean discontented, disaffected, or disillusioned. The word doesn’t mean that you’re unhappy or ignored, it means you’ve been deprived of your right to vote. It’s a federal offense, and a bit more important than your happiness.
I adore this site.
My college English teacher often opens class with, “So, where are we at?” I know it’s on the list already, but hearing an English professor say it is agonizing (and scary).
My roommate is fond of saying things like, “I just forgot a couple stuff.” She also says things like “unpatient.” Only in Utah…
This is more of a punctuation gripe, but one of my pet peeves is when an “apostrophe s” appears as part of a plural acronym.
“Has he finished listening to the CD’s yet?”
“There are three ATM’s in the village.”
it makes me growly. My husband and father in law slanged it for a spell, using it in the same context as ‘regardless’ until I convinced him (dictionary in hand) that it isn’t even a word!
Today, as I take my morning stroll through the scientific literature, I feel the need to vent some of my frustrations. I am an American assistant professor at a European university. From my un-tenured vantage at the bottom of the totem poll, I parse a lot of scientific documents written by others (students, other members of the faculty, etc.).
For whatever reason, the notion that all scientific documents must be written in the passive voice has permeated this continent. Tragically, it has combined with the grammatical errors inherent to any writing in a second language to form this horrible amalgam of prose that drives me to write comments on blogs about grammar and writing. Perfectly cromulent (yes, a Simpsons reference) words have been rendered meaningless and, like the word “novel,” have even been banned by certain publishers. And here is a typical example of a style of writing that seems designed to punish me for reading it: “Moreover, it is planned to investigate the possibility…” Or, selecting a newly-published article at random: “Chemically converted graphene sheets decorated with XXX were found to be stable against the chemical reduction and well dispersed in the aqueous phase without any agglomeration.” Ignoring the abundance of nouns modifying nouns–the frustrating and pointless use of passive voice defies explanation. It is writing that strives for opacity and it makes the immense amount of reading that is required for my job that much more painful.
What really drives me nuts is that, by any reasonable measure, I’m not a particularly good writer, but when measured against other scientists, I’m a regular Mark Twain. Google, and rants on the topic in the editorial sections of various journals, tell me that stuffy, old Brits are to blame and that people fear having papers (and worse, proposals) rejected because of a “disagreement over style.” Indeed, I have received comments about my “rather bold” style of writing (usually followed by a tacit admission of the clarity said writing) because I–gasp–use “I” and “we” when discussing actions taken by myself with other researchers.
I see a lot of young people posting to this blog: is someone teaching you to write this way? For the proprietors of this fine website: Are educators in the liberal arts teaching people to write this way? Is clearly-written English going the way of the Dodo?
I wonder why the meteorologists at kswo use south and east or north and east when referring to the location of a storm or the movement of a storm instead of southeast or northeast?
I read through your comments and saw one that, to me, is like chewing tin foil.
irregardless – always ought to be “regardless” although most dictionaries have succumbed and added it as a real word.
Here’s the biggie –
very unique – either something is one of a kind or it isn’t. There are no degrees of uniqueness.
Wow! I am so glad I had time on my hands this morning, Googling for a totally unconnected quotation, and stumbled on this site! Up there with “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”!
Having scanned religiously through all the posts above, despite many of my own “pet peeves”, I have not seen any reference to “comprising of”, which makes my teeth itch. Perhaps it is peculiarly British?
I am also reminded of a story about a punctuation error in US import duty rates circa 1950, when items excluded from duty were listed as “… bread, fruit …” and thousands of dollars lost in revenue until the amendment to “bread-fruit” could be implemented. Unfortunately I cannot find a reference to this, although I recall seeing it in print during my childhood.
Memo to self: how would it be possible to scan irreligiously? When did religion become a substitute for thoroughness?
I get frustrated by the common use of the word jealousy instead of envy. “I was jealous of her house/car/clothes etc” should be “I was envious of her house/car/coat” as they belong to someone else. We are envious of something we don’t have and jealous of something we want to hold onto – yet most people seem to use the word jealous for both!
Hopefully… It is an adverb, not a verb. It is not a substitute for “I hope”. It means “in a hopeful manner” or “full of hope”.
Who thinks “hopefully” is a verb? I have never seen anyone use it as such.
People use it all the time. In fact, it’s rarely used correctly. “Hopefully I will get that promotion,” is often said when the person means, “I hope I get that promotion,” thus using hopefully as a verb. You would never say, “In a hopeful manner I will get that promotion.”
A correct use would be, “The newlyweds hopefully started their new life together.”
I read the article and ‘hopefully’ someone will kindly remind the author that she’s confused about the difference between a verb and an adjective. NOBODY uses hopefully as a verb…it’s impossible! I can’t ‘hopefully’ anybody nor can anyone ‘hopefully’ ME, or at least it’s to be hoped!
I think forgetting the exact names and functions of the ‘parts of speech’ when writing about a contentious language issue is a far greater faux pas than misusing the word hopefully!
The pet peeves page is intended to be a list of pet peeves–a list of things that annoy people–not a discussion about whether we agree, disagree, whether they’re valid, not valid, etc.
In other words, we didn’t intend this page to be a forum as much as a list, so we’re not going to post any more replies to this.
I have an aversion to the overused prefix “pre” (although if works in prefix.)
On the second page of the introduction for Literally, the Best Language Book Ever, you use the word “prepackged” when “packaged” is all you need.
The worst transgression I witnessed was on TV when a security expert told a reporter that he’d “pre-alerted” the media to an upcoming event. An alert by definition is beforehand and any attempt to super-size it, or other words, with “pre” makes little sense.
I’m wavering on “prefabricated” on page three of your intro though.
– Jim Zook
I truly enjoyed (no lie) Literally, the Best Language Book Ever.
Just a list of possible future entries if a Volume 2 is printed.
Incorrect Vs. Correct
common sense Vs. good sense (since it is not common and hardly sensible)
past history Vs. past or history (but not both – all history is past)
pre-recorded (at an earlier time) Vs. recorded
pre-cut Vs. cut
co-equivalent Vs. equivalent
at this point in time Vs. now
one moment in time Vs. all moments are in time
black crows Vs. aren’t all crows black?
spotted leopard Vs. aren’t all leopards spotted?
black panthers Vs. (again) aren’t all panthers black?
pre-planned Vs. planned
impact Vs. affect (or effect)
doable Vs. feasible
first-ever Vs. first
Rio Grand River Vs. just Rio Grand
visual picture Vs. visual or picture (never both)
guesstimate Vs. estimate (cute, but all estimates are guesses by their very definition)
koala bear Vs. koala
planned in advance Vs. planned (plain and simple)
a fraction (of the cost) Vs. a small fraction (of the cost)
buzzword Vs. buzz-phrase (when it’s 2 or more words)
disrespected Vs. shown disrespect
And paradigm in all its uses
Glad you liked the book, and that’s an impressive list!
This is LOADS of fun:
– Do the math. (Addition? Multiplication? Algebra? Calculus?)
– Chew your ear off. (I’ve heard, “Chew your arm off,” which places it “in a whole other realm.”)
– Dawg (Slang for Dog and substitute for Dude, which is bad enough.)
– Happy camper
– Hurting (Hurt or in pain, but not hurting.)
– Dropping articles. ( A, An, The) We are not British: In THE hospital. Going to A university. (News broadcasters seem to be the greatest offenders.)
Look what you’ve started.
– Jim Zook
*I should of done my homework earlier.
*I could have went to that movie yesterday.
*Where are you at?
*What did you do that for? (instead of “Why did you do that?”)
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I hope that this is a regional thing, but lately I have heard many people say “I got my hair did.” or “I got my nails did.” I cringe every time. It is my new pet peeve.
So help me, I’m going to scream if I hear one more supposedly well educated person use the word accredidation.
PEOPLE! The word is accreditation.
It’s not even in Webster’s as slang. It only exists in the minds of the offenders.
It’s “on accident” and “by purpose” instead of “by accident” and “on purpose,” people! No one gets that one right!
I have never heard “on accident” or “by purpose.” And I don’t think those phrases are correct.
Regarding “on accident” — here is a discussion indicating that “on accident” (instead of “by accident”) is used mostly by people under age 10. Leslie Barratt, a professor of Linguistics at Indiana State University, published a paper on this very topic. Interesting.
(Some of the comments at this link also address the awkwardness of “by purpose.”)
I wrote this backwards…
The correct phrasing is “by accident” and “on purpose.”
You never do something “on accident” or “by purpose.”
In Sherry’s List, I didn’t come across a word that has always bothered me. The word is “whatsoever”. I was told that the correct word is “whatever”. Recently, in a book written by a well-known lawyer, he used the word ‘whatsoever’. He also used the word ‘firstly’ – but only once! That’s what brought me to your site. Marvelous. Just up my alley.
“Award-winning.” It’s just so overused. Food, cars, games, movies — any product you can think of is “award-winning.” This phrase is just used so ridiculously often that it loses all of its punch. That, and, you know, there ARE awards for negativity (e.g., Razzie awards).
Tonight on MSNBC, an editor of an excellent periodical used the term “general consensus”. How can this man be an editor! I’ve heard this redundant construction so often that I used Google to find an example of the usage as a check of my sanity. As a result of my search, I found this web site.
I’d love to post my pet English language peeves, but I don’t think I’ll live long enough to complete the list. I am pleased to find this site and I plan to buy “the book”.
Does anyone remember the etymologist John Ciardy? He was a regular contributor to “Morning Edition” during the mid 1980s. He died many years ago but I was a devoted listener to his segment on the tortured language (English) many of us speak.
“Fall down” and “rise up” are quite annoying, but the absolute worst offenses (of redundancy)are “reply back” and “respond back”. I have heard/seen these transgressions spoken and written several times and suffer a great deal of indigestion as a result.
Oh, let us not forget, “one in four people are…”–I’ve contacted many websites regarding this error. If only sentence diagrams were still used people would recognize the prepositional phrase.
“Save up to 50% – and more!”
Actually, if I get started on this I might not stop… but I will gripe about “PIN number” and “ATM machine.” In my line of work we often use Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, or RHIBs. Which are invariably called “RHIB boats.”
Okay, one more… a US Navy ship’s name is preceded with “USS.” Note the lack of periods. And on the subject of ships’ names, USS Enterprise is referred to simply by name, without the definite article. You’d never say you were born in “the Cleveland,” would you? Likewise, you just watched Nimitz enter harbor, not “the” Nimitz. Definitely not “the” “U.S.S.” Nimitz. And you sure didn’t ride a RHIB boat to the ATM machine, except you forgot your PIN number.
Oh all right, another one: preventative. Sets my teeth on edge every time.
And “podium” when you mean lectern.
I used to work with a guy who would say, “…nip it in the butt”. It made me giggle every time.
I’m surprised that I’m the first to mention this one (maybe I missed it above?).
I worked in the wireless business for a while. I became painfully aware of how many people add an ‘h’ to the end of the word ‘height’.
I still work in a business that has to do with development so, of course, there are always discussions of the physical properties of structures. To add insult to injury, a lot of what I do is write for a living. Or, rather, re-write other people’s ‘stuff’ – including correcting a lot of the errors mentioned here!
Please, people, the word is HEIGHT – not HEIGHTH.
I might break a tooth one of these days, listening to some otherwise intelligent person use the latter. Save my teeth. Educate today! 🙂