Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Words about Words

I have some grammar tips I'd like to offer you, my dear reader, free of charge.  Maybe you’ll use them and thank me; maybe you’ll ignore them and mentally note what an obnoxious grammar Nazi I am.  I would, however, ask that the record reflect the fact that I do not correct people individually for their misuse of the English language.  (Unless you’re my father, you won’t find me correcting your Facebook postings or your online musings.)  But, I see no harm in using my little corner of the internet to offer correction to anyone who just happens to read it, thereby making me kinder and more thoughtful than if I corrected you personally.  Either way, take the tips or leave ‘em, but let not ignorance of the (usage) law be your excuse any longer. 

1    1.  Note that I said these tips are being offered “free of charge,” not that I’m giving them away “for    free,” because that would make no sense.  One cannot give something away FOR free because “free” is not a thing.  One simply gives away.  So, instead of saying “The gas station is giving away coffee mugs for free,” just say “The gas station is giving away coffee mugs.”  Not only is it correct, it uses fewer words, thereby saving you breath.  See, proper grammar can make you healthier.

2    2.  If you decide to use the word “whence,” which a surprising number of people do, don’t preface it with the word “from.”  Sure, it’s commonly used and widely accepted despite its grammatical shortcomings, but is that really the standard for which we’re aiming?  Let’s shoot for a lack of redundancy instead.  “Whence” means “from where,” so when you say “from whence,” you are saying, “from from where,” and I think we can all agree that sounds ridiculous.  So, if you must say “whence,” please say “whence” and only “whence.”

3    3.  Don’t say literally unless you literally mean literally.  I was watching Cupcake Wars tonight, and the judge said that one of the cupcakes was “literally exploding with patriotism.”  While an exploding cupcake would have made for good television, it didn’t happen.  So, rather than literally exploding with patriotism, the contestant’s cupcake simply figuratively exploded with patriotism.  Which is way different.  And probably way less messy.

4    4.  Regardless means “without regard to.”  It’s a handy word; use it freely.  Irregardless is not a word and, therefore, does not mean “without regard to.”  Stop saying it.

5    5.   Lastly, contractions such as “could’ve” or “should’ve” are short for “could have” and “should have.”  They are not short for “could of” or “should of.”  Not only do the latter phrases not make any sense, they actually use fewer characters (if one counts the apostrophe) than the purported contraction.  Which kind of defeats the purpose of a contraction.

That’s all for tonight folks.  I probably should of stopped sooner, lest you wish for me to crawl back under the rock from whence I came, but since I’m giving these tips away for free, you have no place to complain, and I would of literally burst if I didn’t manage to get them all in, irregardless of whether you like them.

 See, it’s possible to use all five errors in one sentence.  Don’t let it happen to you.


Jawan said...

And now I am officially (wait, should I have used "officially" since this is just a comment that's not on real paper nor could ever be notarized?) scared to speak around you for fear that I will sound silly.

Next post topic: homophones used incorrectly (to, two, too)

Jawan said...

I am all perplexed and looked back over my comment and then noticed I changed tenses in the middle of the sentence!!!! Ugh, you grammar hound!