12
Oct
09

Grammar Nazi moment

I edit for a living. It’s what I do. Not really by choice, mind you, but sometimes you’re desperate enough for a job that you’ll do just about anything. That basically describes my entire work history.

Grammar uber alles
My current position is what most people call a “grammar nazi” — meaning I edit things to ensure that they are at least in the ballpark of being readable. (And to answer the FAQs, yes, if you send me an e-mail, I’ll edit it as I read it. Yes, if I pick up a menu, I’m edit it as I read it. Yes, I edit anything and everything that I read. And yes, sometimes it sucks gigantic ass.)

Some call me anal, but really, I’m fairly easy going about this stuff compared to some. For example, I don’t get bent out of shape over common usage errors, such as your and you’re, or there, their and they’re — it’s fairly easy to fuck up and use the wrong one. And typos don’t freak me out, either. We all make them, so no sense getting worked up about them.

Too good not to use.

Too good not to use.

But there are some things that irk me to no end. Geekhand is one (“NE1 there?” Seriously? You have a keyboard, right? How many more keystrokes is it to spell out “anyone?”), but I can at least understand its use when texting. However, other errors make me want to go running, screaming into the night:

  • Preregister. Oh dear God, I cringe every time I hear or see this word. There is no such thing as “preregistering” for something. If you had to preregister, that would mean you have to register in order to register. Make sense? You just register for stuff. That’s it. No “pre-” needed.
  • I simply call them delicious.

    I simply call them "delicious."

    Donut: There is no such beast as a “donut.” There is a thing called a doughnut, though — and they tend to be very tasty.  Homer Simpson eats them by the truckload. But “donut” is basically part of a brand name — Dunkin Donuts, Donut Connection, whatever. If you mean what I posted to the right — that, my friends, is a “doughnut.”

  • Entitled: Did you ever see that “Three Stooges” episode in which Curly would go nuts and beat the crap out of everyone when Larry would play “Pop Goes The Weasel”? Well, that happens to me when I hear “entitled” used incorrectly. Books, plays, CDs, pieces of artwork or whatever else that is named is not “entitled.” It is simply “titled.” Entitled means that someone is owed something. For example, “The artist who created the painting titled ‘Killed My Landlord’ is entitled to $50,00o from the painting’s sale.”
    (And for you Stooges fans, the fun begins around the 4:20 mark)
  • The apostrophe: I can’t understand why people can’t seem to grasp the proper use of the apostrophe. Instead of trying to explain when it is used, I’ll make it easy: An apostrophe doesn’t make a noun plural. Ever. For example, a friend of mine said she saw a warning sign on a park bench that read “Bee’s.” When used like this, it means that one bee owns the bench. If there is more than one bee lurking about (and they don’t own the bench), then it should read “bees.” Seriously, folks — this shit ain’t hard. I mean, grammarians have already been browbeat into accepting the use of “s’s” (so the “Hoss’s” sign is now allegedly correct), so just slap an ‘s on to anything possessive, and you’re good to go. And the worst part about this particular error is that I see it spreading into titles of stuff — meaning it’s happening so often that editors are missing it.
  • 12 noon. OK, let’s take a quick look here: What’s the definition of noon? 12p.m. Can you have a 3 p.m. noon? No.  Can you have an 11am noon? No. Can you have a 12:01 noon? No. And if you try and be smart and say that you can have 12 nooners, I can only salute you.
  • Quotes: Be “courteous” — use quotes “correctly.” OK, this sentence makes me want to punch babies. Quotes shouldn’t be used for emphasis — just titles and quotes. (And yes, I know I’m being hypocritical since I used them for emphasis throughout this blog entry.)

Friends also pointed some of their irritations:

  • Forewarn: To warn means to give advanced notice. Fore- means “before.” So, like preregister, you’re essentially warning someone about an impending warning.
  • ATM machine, PIN number: Do you know what each stands for? ATM = “Automatic Teller Machine.” PIN = “Personal Identification Number.” So, “machine” and “number” are redundant. Just say ATM or PIN. That’s all that’s needed.

There’s no way to talk about these things and not have grammatical errors in whatever you write, so don’t bother pointing out my mistakes. I know I make them. However, I know you won’t see the ones that I pointed out here, because basically, they cause me pain.

In the end, most people will agree with the following sentiment:

But if you find yourself communicating through the written word, being able to express yourself appropriately through proper grammar is vital. There’s nothing worse that someone who has a great idea, but can’t write well enough to fully express it.

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11 Responses to “Grammar Nazi moment”


  1. 1 Mike
    October 12, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Sorry, You’re, Your, and Yore, and They’re, Their, and There drive me crazy. I get them right, every time, and I can’t understand why people continually fuck them up. It’s almost as if you see it wrong more often than right. Shoot me now.

  2. October 12, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Can we please add irregardless to this list? Granted, I don’t see it too much in print but whenever I hear it I want to…, well I won’t say what I want to do.

    Nice list, but I must confess to being an abuser of donut (I am a helpless victim of the ever present Dunkin Dounuts). I won’t ever let it happen again.

  3. 3 Three
    October 12, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Personally, I feel this is what we get when we start worrying about a child’s self-esteem instead of letting the nuns start whacking kids on the knuckles for getting stuff wrong. It seems like it’s an apostrophe problem, because people know an apostrophe denotes possession — even if there is an “re” after it. Wow, trying to justify it makes my eyes hurt — but that could also be from the beer.

  4. 4 Three
    October 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Greg, I have no idea of how I left out “irregardless,” which ranks up there with the people who say, “I could care less.” I may have to go back and add those in.

  5. 5 Mike
    October 12, 2009 at 11:20 am

    There’s also “for”, “four”, “fore”, and “4”. Not to mention “too”, “two”, “to”, and “2”. And for crying out loud, it’s a playoff “berth”, not a playoff “birth”. Morons.

  6. 6 Mike
    October 12, 2009 at 11:30 am

    …and when people say “Each one was better than the next.” Doesn’t that mean that things got progressively worse? Don’t they really mean “Each one was better than the last”?

  7. 7 Ian
    October 12, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Relax and have some more chicken!

  8. October 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

    You know what makes me crazy? That sloppy grammar all over the blogosphere now sometimes leaves me wondering if I’m right. I used to know how to properly use a comma. Not any more! And sentences. I USED TO WRITE IN SENTENCES. Fragments are now good enough.

    Sometimes I hate myself, but at least I get “your” and “you’re” correct.

  9. 9 Funkyskull
    October 14, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I never tire of this subject, really. Here are my pet peeves:

    There is no “a” in definitely.

    “A lot” is two separate words, unless the user means “allot,” which they almost never do, and they’re spelling it wrong if that is the case anyway.

    There is no such thing as “a myriad of” anything.

    I think I’m done now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.


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