Stale Content Alert!
This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.
Alright, this has gone on long enough now. It’s time for me to address something that’s bugged me and many others for a long time. There is no excuse for it, and it only continues because people are being apathetic.
The problem is the continual degradation of the English language, and it’s a problem indeed.
If you’ve ever been on the Internet, you know what I’m talking about. You see it everywhere, in e-mails and instant messages, on forums and webpages alike. It’s also plenty prevalent in the non-virtual world, where people are perfectly content to flaunt their pathetically childish grammar.
Chances are, you’re probably guilty of a couple of these things. Almost everyone does at least one or two.
There is no reason why anyone who’s out of elementary school, let alone middle or high school, should not know this, especially in today’s day and age of information availability. You are clearly either not thinking or don’t care.
You’re making yourself look like a fool when you don’t bother to use English correctly. Wisen up a little.
And don’t get me started with that “grammar Nazi” crap. If your primary language is English, then you are expected to speak and write it properly. Don’t ask, “Who cares?” I care. Other people care. You are humiliating yourself and the language, and that’s just stupid.
Here are some of the most common mistakes for you:
Your/you’re: AAARGH. I hate this one. Look, it’s extremely simple. An apostrophe denotes a contraction, a removal of letters. “You’re” is short for “you are”– the apostrophe replaces the A. “Your a grammar nazi” means nothing. “What’s you’re problem” doesn’t either. Don’t try to wave it off as being “easier to type”, either. Adding the extra apostrophe and the extra E takes fractions of a second. It’s easier to type “cow” than it is to type “colloquialism”, but the two don’t mean the same thing. “You are” and “belonging to you” don’t mean the same thing either. Don’t mix them up.
Its/It’s: This one also kills me. As before, an apostrophe denotes a contraction. Which can be contracted here: “belonging to it”, or “it is”? You’d better choose the second, because otherwise, you’re wrong. “It’s” means “it is”, or “it has”. “Its” is a modifier. What’s wrong with the car? It’s got a dent in its fender.
They’re/their/there: “They’re” means “they are”. “Their” is a modifier. “There” refers to a place. It’s that simple. They’re headed there on their trip (in the car with the dent in its fender).
Who’s/whose: Gah, don’t you people understand apostrophes? “Whose” is a modifier. “Who’s” means “who is” or “who was”. “Who’s car was that?” is wrong. “I saw a car today. It had a dent in its fender.” “Whose car was it?” “Someone who’s going to have to pay for some repairs.”
Then/than: “Than” compares things. “Then” is an adverb, generally used in relation to time. “We noticed it had a dent in it bigger than a baseball, then left a message on the windshield saying we didn’t do it.”
Affect/effect: This one is a little different, but that doesn’t keep it from being important. You don’t effect something. You affect it. And unless you’re using some fancy English for “feeling”, you don’t feel the affects of something affecting you. “Affect” is a verb. “Effect” is a noun. It’s really that simple.
Pluralizing apostrophes? NO, NO, NO. You do not have calculator’s, or squash’s, or green bean’s, or shoe’s, or book’s, or scissor’s. Apostrophes do not pluralize. No. The end.
To/too: If you’re still making this mistake, go talk to one of your grade school teachers. He or she will quickly lose faith in humanity, and tell you that “too” means “also”, or “very much so”. “To” doesn’t– it’s a preposition.
Quotation marks are not emphasis marks. If you advertise having the “coldest” ice cream in town, I’m not going to be a patron of yours. Why? Because you’re saying that your ice cream is the so-called “coldest”. Maybe if you advertise the coldest ice cream in town, or perhaps the coldest, I might be inclined to have some. But not if the veracity of your temperature claim is in doubt.
Lose/loose: For Pete’s sake. The two don’t even sound alike. “Loose” rhymes with “moose” (unless you pronounce “moose” as “mooz”). If something is loose, it is not tight. You cannot loose something, and you’re not going to find someone with a screw lose. “Loose” is an adjective. “Lose” is a verb.
Breath/breathe: Take a breath. Breathe in. “Breath” is a noun. “Breathe” is a verb.
Definitely: Look at that. See an A? No. That is how it’s spelled.
Of/have: The phrase is not “would of”. It’s “would have”. That’s why the contraction is “would’ve”. Think.
Really, folks. It’s that simple. Bookmark this blog entry if it’ll help you remember these things.
But, seriously, you look like a fool.
And who wants that?