Top Ten Grammar Peeves

I saw this list on Facebook this morning. Uh-oh!

Top 10 grammar peeves 2

There’s a mixture of good and bad information here. Let’s take a look:

 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 a lot as two words, not one!).


6 thoughts on “Top Ten Grammar Peeves

  1. Herschel Moore

    Good clarification of grammar peeves. As to the use of first person singular nominative in the objective case, a more commonly seen and heard example is “I” for “me” as in “Judy gave the cookies to John and I.”

  2. Barry

    Wow, I had no idea I had been facebooked! I’m the originator of this particular list of grammar peeves and, to be honest, I did it purely as a fun design to sell on t-shirts, mugs, etc. I realize there are exceptions to many of the peeves, but going into great detail simply wouldn’t fit in the space allotted.

    As for the peeves themselves, the first and the seventh are the ones that really get my blood boiling.

  3. Elliott

    This is something my mom does all the time. Whenever she uses the word “incident” in the plural, instead of “incidents”, she says “incidences”, which is actually plural for “incidence”.

  4. Joe

    One is also incorrect, in that you can say, “I could care less.” Implied thereby is, “But it’d be difficult/unlikely for me to do so.” In other words, both phrases are acceptable.

  5. ballroomdancer Post author

    Hi, Joe! You’re right that it’s acceptable. I don’t think the average person adds the “but” idea so that it makes sense. People hear this expression so often that they know what you’re trying to say, even though “could care less” is technically the opposite of “couldn’t care less.”
    It’s like “How do you do?” People hear “Pleased to meet you.”
    Here’s another one: “I don’t miss going to ballgames with my friends” often comes out as “I don’t miss not going to ballgames with my friends.” I’ve even seen that mix-up in books.
    Thanks for the comment!

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