it’s time for a grammar lesson.

Okay. Here’s the thing. I know plenty of other blogs and websites have grammar posts that are better than this will be, but I don’t really care. If you do, then head over to Slate or some other place.

My love for proper grammar (and subsequent snobbery) has been heightened recently by my new job. See, I have this 70 page style guide that I basically need to memorize in order to do my job well. (That sentence would have been critiqued and edited for numerous reasons.) Fortunately, a lot of it is English grammar that I already know because I went to elementary school. But the rest is stylized and specific to both the type of writing I’m doing and the company. In any case, reading through the guide multiple times has led me here. To the grammar rant. Let us begin.

1. There is one, I repeat, ONE e in the word judgment.

2. There is no a in the word definitely.

3. Repeat after me: people who, things that. Please stop saying people that. We are not things.

4. Its is possessive. It’s is a contraction meaning it is or it has, as in, It’s disturbing to me how often apostrophes are abused.

5. To follow suit, your is possessive. You’re is a contraction meaning you are.

6. Adverbs modify verbs (crazy, right?). Use them. They feel neglected. They want to be your friend.

7. CD’s is possessive. CDs is plural. CDs’ is plural possessive.

8. Penultimate means next to last. It does not mean more ultimate than ultimate, or some variation of that.

9. Proud vs. prideful. I realize that prideful is actually a word. However, I still don’t like it. We already have the word proud. Maybe it’s just because I spend too much time with church-folk, and they really like saying prideful. (Sidebar: I could probably write an additional post on misused and made up words in the church. Quick example: the word gospel is a noun. It is not a verb. You cannot gospel someone.)

10. A semicolon (;) connects two independent clauses that are related. An independent clause is a phrase that can stand on its own (AKA a complete sentence). Now promise me you’ll stop putting semicolons wherever you feel like. Or maybe you better just promise to stop using them altogether.

11. Acrossed is not a word. Neither is acrost.

12. Quotation marks. I’m not even sure how to explain the improper use of quotation marks, so I’m going to employ a photo, which I took in the bathroom of one of my old haunts (feel free to admire my tanned shoulder). For everyone’s sake, if you’re making a sign, just play it safe and don’t put any quotes on it.

13. Less vs. fewer. Now, this is one that I’m not especially picky about, but I know plenty of people who are. The rule is use fewer when referring to people or things. Note the s on the end of thing. Use less when referring to something that cannot be counted, or cannot be plural. Less is also generally used with numbers. So you would say: I need less ice. I need fewer ice cubes. I need less than seven.

I’m going to reserve the right to add to this list. Please share your grammar pet peeves!

And now you are all welcome to critique my writing. But be nice.


7 thoughts on “it’s time for a grammar lesson.

  1. Nick P. says:

    Judgment has tripped me up before.

    I think you may be wrong on ice cubes. Isn’t the normal rule about “countability”. “I need less ice cubes” certainly sounds wrong, though “less than seven ice cubes” doesn’t sound quite so bad. But then again, one can’t just go by how it sounds, if one is from Kentucky.

    I’m pretty sure that I heard someone use gospel as an adverb a few months ago. Made my head spin. They leapfrogged gospel as a verb straight to adverb.

  2. Nick P. says:

    Let me rephrase that: your example of ice cubes is deceptive, because you are including a number and a countable plural noun.

    “less than” modifies 7
    but ice cubes should be modified by “fewer”

    Admittedly, “I need fewer ice cubes than 7” is an awkward construction.

    But the point is, countable objects call for the use of “fewer”. (with some exceptions).

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