Friday, April 8, 2011

G: without question, g is for grammar

I'm kind of a snob. Not that kind of snob who wears fancy designer labels, gets invited to swank parties, and hobnobs with the upper echelon of society.

No, it's worse. I'm a grammar snob.

I can't help it! My inner editor constantly looks for grammar mistakes even when I remind her, "You're not so perfect either." It's useless though, she never listens.*

So, because I feel like it's time for a list, here are some of my bigger grammatical pet peeves:

I see this and twitch. And then giggle because I know what's coming. That's right friends. Meet, alot. (If you haven't read this freakishly funny blog on the alot, please go read it now. I'll wait. It's that good. Now go, read!)

Maybe I missed the memo, but when did x slip into these words? I certainly don't remember learning this in grade school

Okay, c'mon. Seriously? We're a bunch of writers and we're still having this discussion? Moving on...

(See which/witch comment.)

General punctuation
This warrants its own category. My inner editor keeps her eyes peeled for three key components: capitalization, placing punctuation within the closing quotation mark, and run-on sentences. And naturally, the use of serial commas.

Alas, before you think I'm some high and mighty writer, or just high (*rim shot*), I have to be sure to give my grammatical confessions.

Dear Strunk and White purists,
Please forgive me for I'm pretty sure my grammar has sinned. I like my adjectives. And my dialog tags.

I use my mc's first name instead of interspersing him or his. (This has gotten so out of hand that my crit group now circles them all when more than 10 appear on a page.)

I have a problem cutting excess words and my verbs aren't very exciting.

I still haven't mastered the proper usage of semi colons, em/en dashes, and I'm pretty sure 80% of my sentences initially come out passive. I also use creative license with the use of ellipses and parenthesis.

Toward vs towards? I don't know. Gray/grey? Not sure about that either, though I think this has something to do with US English vs British English.

But please Strunk and White devotees, don't judge me. I'm working on it. Just please promise me there won't be any quizzes on objective and subjective pronouns. I still have alot** to learn about those.

How about you? What are your biggest grammatical pet peeves?

(*Murphy's Law now suggests my comments will include people pointing out all my past/present/future blog mistakes. Go ahead. I've earned it.)
(** yes, that was intentional.)


  1. I adore that post from Hyperbole and a Half. I keep going back to reread it. The truth is, when I hear "a lot" now - no need for it to be typed - I think of this post.

  2. First off, I love alot! (The "creature", not the grammatical error).

    Your pet peeves are the same as mine, especially the "x" thing! UGH! I hate hearing "expecially", ugh ugh ugh!! I think my biggest pet peeve these days is serial comma use, whereas it used to be the mix-ups between those sound-alike words you've already named. I'm not a professional or wannna-be writer (I used to want to write a novel but I'm too lazy and uncreative now) but that doesn't mean grammatical and spelling errors don't irritate the crap out of me!

  3. Former editor here!

    My ultimate, ultimate grammar pet peeve?

    "Hot Dog's $2"

    I hate it. I can understand people making mistakes of omission, but I loathe it when people use apostrophes on plural words, essentially adding an extra incorrect punctuation mark.



    I also know people who never learned the it's/its rule either. Also annoying.

    Oh, and subject verb agreement too.

  4. LOL, I love this post.

    I can't find the link to post it here, but a few months back I ran into a series of (sorta) motivational posters for writers that said things like:

    Strunk And White Have A Posse - and they'll go active voice on your [expletive deleted].

    I laughed until I was teary and winded.

    Personally, I would like to see the Oxford Comma made mandatory, with capital punishment for violations! But that's just me. I have punctation-aggression issues. :) Grammar-wise it's the use/used confusion that makes me wince a bit. "I use to have to go to the store for my mother."

  5. I don't exactly have any grammar issues that bug me. I'm terrible at spelling and no amount of study ever helped me. In junior high a teacher made me and my dad have a "sit down" with her over my atrocious lack of spelling ability. He confessed it was his fault because he helped teach me how to read and write early (Thanks dad!) but didn't realize he was poisoning my brain when he taught me to sound out words when I write them down, ignoring that the English language is nothing but exceptions to rules that are kind of arbitrary anyway. Because of my handicap, I'm kind of cool with other people making mistakes sometimes. It doesn't bother me.

    That being said, like Margo, I wish the Oxford Comma was mandatory and that I didn't have to defend it when I use it with people who don't understand. And it's one space, not two, after periods. I love verbing words that aren't naturally doing words, and the only mistake that makes me kind of wince is the pluralization of words that ought not be plural.

    Also, I love Alots! And Hyperbole and a Half!

  6. Oh, doh, I'm such a dork! I was mixed up earlier -- what I meant by "serial comma use" was EXCESSIVE commas, not the Oxford comma. Duh.. total brain fart this morning when I made my first comment. I hate when people use commas all over the place where they don't belong. I don't really care about the Oxford comma one way or the other. Sometimes I use one, other times I don't. I'm inconsistent, lol.

    Love Kristina's pet peeve, too. I hate when people add an apostrophe to plurals.

  7. Biggest pet peeves:

    - their/there/they're
    - alot
    - putting an apostrophe at the end of a decade year to make it plural (1980's)


I love getting comments. They're as much fun as getting real snail mail. So please, chime in and tell me what you think!

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