Confession-slash-warning: If you use incorrect grammar, I will probably judge you. (Yes, it happens to everyone from time to time, but there are definitely some major repeat offenders out there.)
I didn’t ask to be wired this way. Words — and the correct ways to spell and use them — are just something I always notice. I find myself visualizing words, and at times basing preference on how they “look” in my mind. If you ever need something copyedited, I’m your girl. I love that stuff. (So, we’ve established that I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. But I’m not alone! Weird Al’s totally with me.)
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I wanted to vent a little. (You guys are cool with a little venting, right? Awesome — thanks!)
I wanted to share a handful of the grammar tragedies I’ve been witnessing recently that have made me quite sad. And annoyed. I invite you to commiserate with me.
- First up: “every day” versus “everyday.” There are two versions of this word, peeps. One meaning “each day” and the other an adjective referring to “commonplace.” More and more, though, I’m seeing people (and brands — shame on you!) use “everyday” when they mean to use the two-word version of the word. (Here’s a quick example for reference: “everyday low prices” and “low prices every day.”) So, just to be clear, here are examples of correct uses for each:
- The next offender: using “I” when “me” is correct instead. This is a mistake that happens ALL THE TIME. So often, that I’m concerned the grammar will start to change to accommodate for the switch. Seriously. I hear it on TV and movies constantly, not to mention in everyday conversation. (Shoutout to the point above — everyday!) It’s getting trickier to hear as more and more people get it wrong, but there’s a super easy way to determine whether “I” or “me” is appropriate in any given scenario: just isolate the “I” or “me” in the sentence and listen to see if it makes sense. For example, “He was hanging out with Mandy and I.” Check it by removing Mandy: “He was hanging out with I.” Doesn’t make sense, right? Try, “He was hanging out with me.” Bingo! So the sentence should read, “He was hanging out with Mandy and me.” As though I needed another reason to love the show Friday Night Lights (my most recent Netflix obsession), Coach Taylor had my heart with this exchange:
Matt: I don’t want this whole thing to be awkward.
Coach Taylor: You don’t want what to be awkward?
Matt: This whole thing between Julie and I.
Coach Taylor: Julie and me.
Coach Taylor: It’s Julie and me. It’s a common mistake, go ahead.
- Last up: “less” versus “few.” This one gets messed up allllll the time. Poor “few” gets forgotten far too often. To know when to use which word, ask the following question: “Can I count it/them?” If the answer if yes, you probably should use “few.” If not, go with “less.” For example, when checking out at the grocery store (this only applies to Publix, one of the only grocery stores I’ve seen who gets this right), you should choose the “10 items or fewer” lane if you just have bread and milk to buy. Two things — count ’em. Conversely, if your desk is covered with stuff, you can say you need “less” clutter in your life. The items aren’t separate enough to count. (It’s not always quite this straightforward — oh, English language — but this is a good place to start. Meanwhile, please join with me in sighing each time you check out at an incorrectly labeled “10 items or less” or “5 items or less” line at a grocery store, just like I did when I saw this sign at Whole Foods Winston-Salem the other day.):
Fellow grammar nerds: what common mistakes fill you with rage?