Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grammar Pet Peeves

From the Speakers: COME TOGETHER by The Beatles

Some friends of mine think I'm a grammar Nazi--I deny it. Speaking with correct grammar is hard, especially if you're surrounded by people who don't care whether you speak correctly or not. But, since I love my friends so much and would never want them to be embarrassed by using the wrong word in front of someone important to them, I often call them out.

Plus it's funny.

So here are my top three most amusing grammar mistakes that I hear all the time:

1. Lie vs. Lay
It was truly a curse when I learned the rule of when to use "lie" and when to use "lay." The short explanation is that you lay down SOMETHING. There has to be an object to lay down. So when someone says "I'm going to lay down for a while," I just want to ask. "Lay what down?"

And how can so many hit songs make it to the radio with this incorrect lyric in their refrains? Take the song CHASING CARS by Snow Patrol--"If I lay here, If I just lay here . . . " If you lay WHAT there!? Doesn't someone check these things? The craziest thing about that song is that he gets it right in the very next line! Or, how about THE LAZY SONG by Bruno Mars: "I just wanna lay in my bed . . . ." LAY WHAT IN YOUR BED!? DON'T LEAVE ME HANGING, BRUNO MARS!

2. Apostrophe + S
You should read a book called, EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES. There are some hilarious examples of apostrophe + s misused in there.

For some reason, I see this all the time on T-shirts. I have no idea why. But I was at the triangle heart walk this weekend, and one group's shirts (I'll leave them anonymous) said something along the lines of "All heart's are worth fighting for."

Admirable sentiments. But wrong. All hearts are worth fighting for. All "heart's" . . . makes no sense. Thanks for supporting, and for bringing laughter to we few who firmly grasp the rules of grammar.

I bought a T-shirt from my high school's marching band that says "All The World's A Stage--Inspired by the writing's of William Shakespeare." DOH! How are you going to misuse an apostrophe (it should be "writings") while paying homage to one of the greatest writers of all time? Lord.

3. Mixing and Matching Sayings
This has less to do with rules of grammar than the other two, but it's my favorite. People mix and match sayings and idioms all the time, and no one really notices because they're analogies, and most of the time we know what they're trying to say, so we hear it correctly.

Here's a good one: "Life threw me for a curve ball." No. It didn't. Perhaps it threw you a curve ball, or maybe it threw you for a loop, but I do not think it threw you for a curve ball. That'd be strange indeed.

Another one I heard: "Give me a bone, already!" Wait, what? How about I give you a break? Or, I'll throw you a bone, and chock this mistake up to you being so exasperated you can't even get your sayings right. Your erroneously implied innuendo is hilarious, though.

This one is infamous: "I could care less what you do!" So . . . you care what I do? Then why are you saying it like you don't? This phrase is notorious for stopping an argument in its tracks, because someone always says this in a heated moment, like an angry parent telling an unruly child to get out of the house or something, and the parent realizes he said that wrong, and the kid's like, "Wait, are you kicking me out or telling me you love me?" And the parent stammers and the kid's looking around . . . it's a disaster. Make this phrase negative: I couldn't care less.

One day I heard President Obama mix and match a saying and about died laughing. I wish I could remember that one--it was great.

Keep your ears out for these mistakes. There are thousands of them everyday, and you'll go crazy if you try to correct them all (and people around you will hate you), so just sit back and enjoy them. Sometimes you'll just recognize them and feel smarter than everyone else, but other times they will make you bust a gut.

I'm going to be really embarrassed if there's a grammatical error in this post.

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