Top Ten Grammar Peeves
I saw this list on Facebook this morning. Uh-oh!
1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 are accurate and make good points – though I’ve heard “nonplussed” in a conversation only once, so I don’t think #7 is a useful piece of information. And BTW, I do know what it means (perplexed). One more thing: I can’t ever recall seeing “nonplus” (without the -ed ending) anywhere. So I was nonplussed (hah!) when I saw it on this list.
Enough about that. What about 2, 8, and 10?
#2: Apostrophes are used to form plurals of symbols and letters used alone: Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. They’re sometimes used with plurals of numerals: Her 1′s look like 7′s. (You should know that some style manuals limit this kind of apostrophe usage to even decades - the 60′s but not 70s - and some don’t use it at all.)
#8: Psychologists often use “affect” as a noun meaning feeling or emotion (this usage is standard and appears in all the dictionaries). And “effect” is sometimes a verb meaning accomplish or make happen: We effected the changes after only a short delay.
#10: Of course “irregardless” is a word. Any unit of sound with a meaning is a word. If your child loves his “binky” (pacifier), then “binky” is a word in your house. It’s more helpful to label “irregardless” (and “binky”) nonstandard.
I’m also going to argue for a minute about the title: Top Ten Grammar Peeves. Grammar is the underlying structure of language. Here’s an example of a grammatical problem: I gave the receipt to she and her brother (instead of her and her brother). (I actually hear that kind of thing once in a while. Sigh.)
These Top Ten Grammar Peeves are usage problems – choosing the wrong word or the wrong punctuation.
Despite the issues with 2, 8, and 10, I’m pleased that this list is circulating. Maybe we’ll see fewer unnecessary apostrophes and less confusion between your and you’re (an error I see daily on Facebook). If this list encourages writers to take a little more time to check their usage, it will have accomplished a lot (which should have been Pet Peeve #11: PLEASE write it as two words, not one!).