And now a word from Granny Grammar…

In more than two years of blogging and reading blogs, I’ve learned something very important:

Some people just don’t have a freaking clue when it comes to certain grammar rules.

I can easily overlook spelling errors and typos, especially in the informal context of blogging. But some errors are so heinous, and repeated so often, they beg to be addressed. So. In the interest of the public at large and the crimes being committed against the English language with terrifying frequency, here are a few, basic grammar and usage rules.

Your and You’re:

You’re missing your favorite movie.

Your is a pronoun which shows possession, as in Is this your coat? or Your eyes are lovely. You’re is a contraction, a short form of the words you are, as in Are you sure you’re alright? and You’re in a lot of trouble, mister. Anytime you start to write (or type) the word you’re, stop and substitute the words you are. If your sentence still makes sense, you’re good.

There, Their and They’re

They’re looking over there for their mittens.

There is a place or a point; it is the opposite of here, as in There is the cafeteria or Is there more to this than meets the eye? Their is a plural pronoun which shows possession, as in Their car is in the shop. They’re is a contraction combining the words they and are, as in They’re [they are] going to the store. Again, substituting the words they are in your sentence can help you determine if usage of they’re is appropriate.

Two, Too and To

Two bears are too many to challenge.

Two is a number, as in I have two dogs. Too is used when the meaning is “in addition,” as in Paris and I attended the party. Nicole came along, too. OR when the meaning is “more than enough,” as in I’ve made too many trips to the pediatrician or Too many cooks spoil the stew. To is a preposition with many definitions (see link), and is generally used whenever two and too are inappropriate, as in We went to the mall and To what do I owe this pleasure? To is also used to anchor an infinitive (to plus a verb), as in To know him is to love him. (I’ll refrain from going on a rant about split infinitives.) (Okay, I can’t refrain completely. It’s Try not to split your infinitive, NOT Try to not split your infinitive. It’s awkward, and it HURTS ME, PEOPLE.)

A lot

A lot of cars were stuck in traffic.

My seventh grade English teacher said, “If you only remember one thing from this entire year, let it be this: A lot is TWO. WORDS. Not one.” Alot is not a word.

Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

Perhaps the most horrific crime currently being committed against the English language is the tendency some folks have to substitute the word of for the word have or for contractions ending in -ve. When I read something like, “I was so mad, I could of screamed,” a little part of me dies. Would’ve. Could’ve. Should’ve. As in would have, could have, and should have. As in I would’ve picked you up at the airport, if I had known you were arriving today.

One last thing, folks…

Every time you write if I had of known (*shudder*), God kills a kitten.


Tune in next time, when we address Hillbilly Grammar, and the difference between SEEN and SAW!


24 Responses to And now a word from Granny Grammar…

  1. momopeche says:

    this will be helpful. because i’m a gigantore F.O.B.

  2. honestyrain says:

    omg. God kills a kitten. this was a WONDERFUL public cervice announcement. could of screamed. seriously. how can people not know that’s wrong? how?

  3. honestyrain says:

    oh, the des hswvs recap is finally up 🙂

  4. Bill says:


  5. kalki says:

    I applaud your efforts. You are a girl after my own heart.

  6. Mocha says:

    I know what you mean, but I haven’t mentioned (in a long time) that I’m an English teacher on my blog. I fear that if I make ONE mistake that I’ll be attacked. People also fear making an error in their comments to me, but I promised not to correct them. Unless they’re being silly…

    Thanks for the visit!

    Oh… I also like to shout once in a while in my writing. It’s flair, right?

  7. Danielle says:

    I had this feeling of dread when I saw that you were going to address grammar mistakes in people’s blogs, because I thought “uh-oh, I don’t do too badly most of the time… but I know I mess up which and that, along with other issues”.

    To my relief you didn’t even pick on that one. which one. that one? just kidding. that one. 😉

  8. Squirl says:

    Sometimes those grammar gripes have got to be aired. Thank you.

  9. psumommy says:

    Ah, grammar. I’m not perfect (anymore) (its been too long since my Newswriting & Reporting class) but sheesh, there are just some basic, 8th grade rules that shouldn’t pretty much everyone know?

    My own personal pet peeves since you obviously implied that you wanted to know: its/it’s, whose/who’s, and improper use of me/I (“Mom and me went to the store” ::shudder::)

  10. Kit says:

    You come by this honestly; I spend a lot (notice: 2 words) of time laughing at our little local newspaper and its (notice: NOT it’s) lack of decent editors.

    Hit “infer” and “imply” while you’re on the subject.

  11. LadyBug says:

    Momopeche, I’ve been wracking my brain, and I have NO clue what “F.O.B.” is.

    I don’t really know how anyone could think that’s correct, honestyrain, but I see it WAY more often than you’d believe.
    (Oh, and thanks for the DH recap!)

    ALL-CAPS SHOUTING is perfectly acceptable, Bill. But only when necessary to the point, and only in moderation. 🙂

    I had a feeling you’d like this one, kalki.

    It’s totally flair, Mocha! I do that, myself. 🙂

    I’m trying to figure out the context of mixing up which and that, Danielle, but my brain seems to be too tired to figure that out this morning. Care to elaborate on that one?

    You’re entirely welcome, Squirl. I know you’re a bit like me when it comes to grammar and spelling. 🙂

    Ooooh, those are good ones, psumommy! I’ll have to remember those for the next edition.

    I cannot believe I forgot to mention its/it’s, Kit! That one gets abused all. the. time. And yeah, infer and imply get misused almost as often as eager and anxious.

  12. Susie says:

    I CAN’T SHOUT IN REAL LIFE, SO I SHOUT ON MY BLOG!!!! I am lazy and sloppy on my blog so probably make most of the errors you’ve identified, alot. However, there is one that I simply do not ever make, and you have addressed it here, and I applaud you for that. And it is one that some of my very favorite people make regularly. I knowed that if anyone could address it, you could. (Just setting the stage for Hillbilly grammar 101.)

  13. LadyBug says:

    We all make occasional spelling and punctuation errors and typos, Susie. I don’t think you’re guilty of any of the errors I mentioned here, and certainly not habitually.

  14. a.k.ard says:

    It’s funny you mention the “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” rule because it seems so obvious that “could of” is 100% inappropriate, and yet the other day I as I was typing out an e-mail I typed “could of”. It looked so wrong that I stopped typing mid-sentence but I was drawing a total blank, so I asked my husband, “This isn’t right is it – to say could of? It can’t be right.” Typical guy that he is, he was only half paying attention so he asked, “What do you mean? What are you trying to say?” To which I respond snidely, “As in COULD HAVE,” then much more meekly, “oh wait, nevermind”.

    I’m blaming that embarassing brain lapse on MommyBrain. Even though my daughter is 16 months old now, I still have those random MommyBrain moments where I find I have added dryer sheets to the washing machine instead of detergent, or have put a box of cereal in the refridgerator and the milk in a cabinet. I think my son was 3 before I felt like I had normal brain function again, lol!

  15. LadyBug says:

    Your “could of” story cracked me up, a.k. ard. And I definitely know what you mean about the Mommybrain. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  16. Megs says:

    I totally share these grammar concerns. “Could of” makes my eyes cross, too.
    Nice blog!

  17. […] is should’ve a word? Why, yes.  It certainly is. […]

  18. carolie says:

    Dont’ forget its vs. it’s, and whose vs. who’s. My previous boss consistently said “her and I.” I used to chew my tongue bloody during meetings as she’d go on and on about “and then her and I will look over your report…” AIEEEEEEEE! It burns, it burns!

  19. Samantha says:

    I just happened to find this little blog while trying to find out if the words could’ve, would’ve and should’ve are actually words. My spellchecker on firefox catches two of them and says they aren’t and my mom says they aren’t either… it was annoying me so I googled it. Couldn’t find out anything, but by you saying it’s okay I’m going to keep using them and assume they are words. 😀
    Anyway, I completely agree with all of these things. I’ve only known two people in my whole life who have said “of” instead of “have” and it always bothered me to no end. I’m also constantly correcting people on the right your/you’re and there/their/they’re to use!

  20. Pedobear Killer says:

    I see a lot of my friends make those mistakes. I don’t consider myself a genius but these are things English speakers should know!

    What makes it worse is that they’re born in America. I’m Asian and so are the people I’m referring to.

  21. Hazel says:

    This is worth writing a blog about. grammar is important. it saves lives? and you can’t possibly understand what they mean when they make a mistake and use a word that sounds the same.
    you have issues if it bothers you this much. what bothers me is people who spend their time blogging about unimportant things, making others feel bad for their shortcomings, that aren’t really hurting anyone when there are a lot more important issues in the world. a lot. I’m sure there are mistakes in here that are going to hurt your feelings. bottom line. I don’t care.

  22. leann says:

    am i the only one who hears people say, “oooh, I have an ideal!” it drives me crazy. it is an idea not and ideal.

  23. Shon Irving says:

    I don’t want to be a grammar geek, but I am. I’ve been this way for far too long. God, please don’t kill anymore kittens. We’ll do better.

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