CONFESSIONS OF A GRAMMAR NAZI

Let’s just cut to the chase and veer off the politically incorrect title. It’s a phrase we’ve certainly heard or used, so there’s no denying its existence. But aside from the conundrum of political correctness, let’s take a look at the following list which explains my frequent desire to cut my ears off and pluck my eyes out to be excused from the excruciating misery.

Granted, I may be looked at as a pedantic nit-picker, but it would be well worth the label if people start to keep these errors at bay. In keeping with our local news update about how the level of English at school-leaving age is going down to the sewers, I felt this list is very apt.

Space it! – The following are not, I repeat NOT words: ‘Goodmorning’, ‘alot’, ‘abit’, ‘thankyou, ‘goodluck’. Understand that these are non-existent! Honestly, who on earth decided to join the words? Did someone just go, ‘Meh, that space is a bit extra, I’ll just get rid of it.’ The intention is all well and good, and I guess it’s better to focus on the fact that politeness and etiquette are being practised, but for crying out loud, separate the words!

Please God, no – Please stop saying ‘Thanks God’. People should be fined for saying it. To clarify this mind boggling issue, the phrase is ‘Thank God’ sans the ‘s’. Some people should certainly thank whatever form of deity they praise when I control every muscle in my body not to shout out ‘It’s THANK!’

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That is the question – Understand that the questions ‘Anyone knows…?’ and ‘From where…?’ are incorrect. This is elementary, or perhaps I’m being a tad pedantic, I don’t know. The correct way of formulating such questions are: ‘Does anyone know…?’ and ‘Where […] from?

Contractions – Learn the difference between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’. Of all the mistakes I’ve mentioned so far, I must say that this has got to be the worst. True, they’re homophones, but that magical apostrophe is the fine line between me smiling in relief or wanting to do a face palm.

More homophones – I beg of you, learn the difference between ‘there’, ‘they’re’ and ‘their’! Incidentally, these are also homophones and I know, the pedant within is wriggling its ugly head out, but I’d like to think adults who have an IQ level higher than that of a piżella would know the difference. But maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part. For sheer confirmation, ‘there’ is a demonstrative, ‘they’re’ is a contracted form of ‘they are’, and ‘their’ is a possessive.

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Possessives and even more contractions – The difference between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’; yet another defining apostrophe that marks the difference between a possessive and a contracted form of pronoun and verb respectively, which in turn marks the difference between me reading along or cringing at the sight of the error.

Flattery and matchmaking – Let’s not forget the hilarious confusion between ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’. Both are verbs, but while the first means that a person might blush in embarrassment when someone butters them up with sweet words, the other explains how one thing can go well or match perfectly with the other.

I always find it funny when people say how their ingredients compliment one another in a dish. My food never speaks to me! I need to discover where people are getting their articulate ingredients from. Joking apart though, I’ve seen this mistake way too many times to be okay with it. It’s got to stop.

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Allegations and assumptions – The misuse of ‘supposed’ and ‘supposedly’ is a very common and confused literal translation from Maltese to English. I sometimes wonder if I’m in the wrong for wanting to barf at its incorrect usage. ‘Supposed’ is an adjective. You’re SUPPOSED to know how to use the word. ‘Supposedly’ is an adverb: SUPPOSEDLY, he knows how to use the word.

Lost in translation – Another painful Maltese-to-English translation confuses ‘pretend’ with ‘expect’. Many think the Maltese verb tippretendi is the direct equivalent to the verb ‘pretend’. Wrong. The equivalent verb would be ‘to expect’. The verb ‘pretend’ means to act like something you’re not in real life.

I won’t stop whining about this – Complain vs. Complaint. There’s not much to explain here. One’s a verb, the other’s a noun.

So there you have it. A list that is by no means exhaustive, but pretty much sums up the most commonly misused, mistaken and massacred words in the English Language within the local context!

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