I was thinking about some phrases that I hear regularly from friends, acquaintances, and family members of mine, and I wanted to share a few observations. These are sort of pet peeves of mine, if you will. After you read this, you may think of me as a sort of grammar disciplinarian. I guess I’m okay with that. I was a raised by a former English teacher, and I was spelling bee champion in sixth grade. Sue me. If there is a chance that I can help someone who reads this to do a better job of communicating via the written (or spoken) word, I am happy.
“Anyways” – This is not a word in the English language. “Anyway” IS a word, however. I cannot count the number of times I hear this misused each day or week. I finally had to tell my title rep to stop saying it, and that I thought it made her seem less educated. If you are using it, too, don’t feel bad. You are definitely in good company. It has become widely accepted, unfortunately.
“Irregardless” – Again, not a word at all. “Regardless” is the term. These are sometimes used interchangeably in emails that I receive.
“I could care less” – This implies that you care at least a little bit. In other words, there is actually less caring that you could possess. The correct phrase is “I couldn’t care less”. I hear both of these all the time, sometimes from the same person.
When writing, “to” does NOT mean “also”. “Too” means also. If you write “two” in this case, however, that is a whole different problem.
When I speak to other agents, or friends, and they say, “Where is your office at?”, I want to correct them, but I bite my tongue. The “at” is superfluous and improper here.
“I” vs. “me” usage – “I” is a word used as a subject, “me” is an object. To say, “Me and you are going to save the world” may sound like a noble cause, but it’s grammatically wrong. When I hear this, I cringe inwardly. To me, it sounds like someone saying “Me is going to save the world”. Conversely, sometimes people try to be overly proper with their language skills, erring too far on the side of caution, perhaps because of an overzealous parent or teacher in their past. These are the ones who say, “I got reservations at Melmo’s for you and I.” In this case, “me” was actually the right word, because it is the object of the phrase.
One that I will admit I have never understood is the fact that “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing. Why use them both? No wonder English is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn as a second language.
One thing I see in emails and the blogosphere constantly is a lack of understanding with regard to the difference between “their” and “they’re”, not to mention “there”. Look this one up, as the explanation might be longer than I really want to provide in this post. The same goes for “you’re” and “your”.
For some reason, we have entered an era wherein the word “literally” is used FAR too often. I heard it used yesterday thusly, “Her speech caused a firestorm…literally” Really?!? That is amazing. That woman was able to speak fire into existence with her words? It sounds a lot like “Firestarter” by Stephen King. Be careful not to say “literally” unless you really mean it. To say that we “literally had dozens of phone calls” sounds believable. To say that “the phone was literally blowing up with calls” sounds silly. Thanks to Dinah Griffey for bringing up this one in the comments so that I could edit the post.
Lastly, I was watching a show yesterday, and a lady mentioned that the girl standing next to her was her “oldest” daughter. She has only two children. “Older” implies that you are comparing two things, “oldest” pretty much requires three or more. I have one son, and he is the oldest of our three children. My older daughter is our middle child, and our youngest is now two years old. See how that works?
Sorry for the slight rant that this ended up being. I thought it would be more humorous, but I guess I get easily irritated sometimes.