A Whole 'Nuther Grammar Post

Monday, June 30, 2008

“I know not how I may seem to others, but to myself I am but a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to content myself with” - Plato

"Is Chicken of the Sea chicken, or is it tuna?" - Jessica Simpson

Few of us can match the eloquence of Plato. Even fewer of us are as inarticulate as Jessica Simpson. The majority of us fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Most of us grasp the English language well enough that we can get our points across while adhering to the basic rules of grammar. Little slips on occasion are understandable, such as accidentally saying "Book of Mormons" instead of "Books of Mormon", or when you are playing Scrabble and the game is almost over and you are stuck with the letters P,T and K. You are completely justified at this point in making up words with their associated bogus definitions. For example, if you can build off of an "A" on the Scrabble board, you can make up a word like "Kapt" and then try to convince your opponents that it is a legitimate word by using it in a sentence like, "The gangsta rapper got 'kapt' when the bullets started flying at the night club."

While I am by no means a grammar snob, there are a few common grammatical mistakes that I hear on a regular basis that make me chuckle. My Top-5 favorite mistakes are listed below. Please post a few comments with some of your pet-peevish type grammatical slip-ups. Once we have a more robust list, those of us who are "in the know" can exchange subtle inside joke glances with each other when we hear people say the words or phrases on the list.

1. The Escape Goat. The majority of us have used the word "scapegoat" when describing a person who is taking the blame for something. There have been two recent examples in the sports world where athletes have, "refused to be the escape goat", when their teams have been losing. Ha, ha, ha! The escape goat! Not only are they getting the word wrong, but it conjures up such a funny mental image. I can perfectly visualize a professional athlete trying to hightail it out of town on the fastest goat he can find. After all, once he rides the goat to safety, he can no longer be blamed for the mistake. Hi-ho, Billy, away!

2. 'Nuther. This is one that I say all the time, despite my best efforts to stop. Using the word "'nuther" is like watching shows like "COPS" and "Jail" on the WB. You know it is bad for you and it makes you appear to be a hillbilly, but you just cannot stop! The word is often used in sentences like, "...but that's a whole 'nuther issue". It often gets used when the words "another", "separate", "different", etc. could each be appropriately used. Am I the only one who has ever heard the word 'nuther before? If you have not heard it yet, just listen up. It is out there. And if you do not hear it, I refuse to be the escape goat!

3. The 360. Working in Human Resources I occasionally hear supervisors refer to a dramatic change in their employees' behavior or performance as a "complete 360." They obviously mean a "180", but I never correct them. I have always thought it would be funny to give one of my employees an evaluation and tell him that I had been somewhat worried about his deteriorating performance and then give him a random angle, like a 118, to illustrate that he nearly hit the 180 mark. A compliment could follow by telling him that he improved his performance by doing a negative 101, but he is still a 17 from where he was the previous year. My employee would be so thoroughly confused at that point that he would have no other choice but to improve. Who else can support the random angle movement? Anybody? Hello? Is this thing on......?

4. I Could Care Less. I hear this one almost daily. For example, if my employee was upset with me because of his -17 degree performance swing, he might get mad and say, "But I could care less what he thinks!" If people do not care about another person's opinion, shouldn't they say, "I could NOT care less." Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending an Area training with a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. He even used the phrase, "I could care less" (Don't worry, he was not mad at us or being rude. It sounded just fine in the context in which he used it.) If it has infiltrated even the Brethren, we have a serious problem on our hands.

5. The Juggler Vein: One of my coworkers uses the phrase, "And he went for my juggler vein", when describing her interactions with a somewhat volatile person she has to deal with. Her jugular vein sounds like it is a lot more fun than mine is. Mine only brings deoxygenated blood from my head back to my heart via the superior vena cava. Hers, apparently, performs circus tricks. (In my best Napoleon Dynamite voice) Luck-eeeee!

Okay, enough poking some innocent fun at common grammatical mistakes. On a similar note, I learned a new word this week - midwifery. Seriously. It is a word. Look it up if you would like. I am pretty sure that people in the 1800's were burned at the stake if found guilty of practicing midwifery. Doesn't that sound like a silly, made-up word that involves potions and enchanted spells? Maybe it is just me, but I think the word is hilarious.

Please post some of your favorite grammatical follies, it should be good for an easy laugh. Who knows, you may even point out a mistake that I commonly make. If you do, I promise to get better and make a complete 360. Or if I disagree with you, I won't change, because I could care less about what you think! But that's a whole 'nuther issue. If you do not post your comments, people may think this post was lame. If that happens, I will not be the escape goat!

Away, Billy, away!


The Fear Fam - Your comment was that the "Book of Mormons" vs. "Books of Mormon" debate was officially settled in the New Era and that the correct verbiage is "copies of the Book of Mormon". I searched LDS.org and found the article you were referring to (click here to view), and you were 100% correct. Props to you for remembering an obscure passage from the New Era from six months ago. This debate is such a common one in the LDS world that I wonder why church decided to clarify this in the New Era. Isn't this important enough to warrant a 3-page Ensign article or at least a memo from Salt Lake to be read in sacrament meeting? I am also a little relieved to hear that Heather O. and I both wrong about this. I have learned from painful experience to never, ever, ever tangle with the Mormon Mommy Wars posse, so thank you for preventing another public NMH beat down.

Ted - You mentioned the misuse of apostrophes, such as Jone's vs. Jones'. Debbie & Norm share your point of view. There was a barber shop in Provo that made the NMW and me laugh out loud when we would drive by it because of its blatant misuse of the apostrophe. The sign hanging outside the shop said, "Chri's the Barber". We figured that the person either meant Chris' Barber Shop or Chris the Barber. Fortunately it did not say, "Chri's the English Tutor".

Bioman75 - You said, "I didn't learn English until I learned Spanish." You can put me in the same boat, amigo. My poor MTC teachers would try to teach me Spanish grammar by telling me where to put adverbs and adjectives in a sentence. Not wanting to look like a hopeless ignoramus, I would nod my head like I completely understood what they were saying while silently asking myself, "What in the heck is an adjective?" I would then leave class and instead of studying all about adjectives, I would get with my MTC district and we would look up how to say phrases like "palabra arriba" (word up) and other lame mid-1990's expressions.

Michelle - The word "patriarticle" always causes my grammar alarm to go off as well. This should also be addressed in the New Era, don't you think? A few of the other comments that made me chuckle were "necked" (anonymous) , "broughten/boughten" and "woof" instead of "wolf" (Megan), "pray"-ing on victims (Debbie & Norm), and "supposebly" (bioman75). Holy cow, I can see so many words with red squiggly lines underneath them right now that I think my monitor is going to explode any moment now.

Beth - You posted a comment defending the practice of midwifery. The NMW has been to the nurse-midwives for births of our last two children and her experiences have been positive as well. My poking fun at the word "midwifery" was not a slam on midwives, I was simply pointing out that it is a funny word. It reminds me too much of something to do with witchcraft mixed with the word "tomfoolery".


The Fear Fam said...

Very funny post!

I've been reading your blog for a while (found you via MMW), but this is my first time commenting. I just *had* to say, the Church resolved the Book of Mormons vs. Books of Mormon issue in one of the recent New Era's. Both are wrong. The correct way to say it is "copies of the Book of Mormon."

My job here is done.

Thanks for keeping me laughing.

9:42 PM
Jami said...

I'm so nauseous, meaning I nauseate other people. I am also nauseated, meaning I feel sick to my stomach.

10:25 PM
Megan said...

It sure is a REALITY check when your "realitor" is only selling houses. I'm sure it's just easier to say, but it drives me up the wall!!!

Also, along the lines of the Book of Mormon thoughts, our in-laws (when in multiples) are SISTERS-in-law not sister-in-LAWS.

My husband's family also has weird pronunciations and words... broughten (as in "We broughten the casserole to yesterday's picnic." Or how about woof for wolf... harmones for hormones... or Mot-o-Meal instead of Malt-O-Meal. All this from the man who calls himself Braken. I do love him anyway! :)

10:43 PM
Ted said...

6. Keeping up with the Jone's in the misuse of apostrophe's.

6:15 AM
bioman75 said...


Two of my favorites.

Also, we are so lazy grammatically with our dangling participles and indirect and direct pronouns (who/whom he/him etc). I didn't learn English until I learn Spanish.

Texting, IMing, TV, video games, etc have made the majority of people sound illiterate.

*thud from jumping off of soap box

Being a highly anal engineer-I love rules even if I can't spell or articulate an idea, I know when they have been broken and it drives my wife nuts while watching TV.

Great posts.

6:22 AM
mama cow said...

On the line of pronunciation moving to Utah has "broughten" me endless fodder for comedy. They say everything from pillow (pallow) to milk (malk) so very funny. Anyway #4 is so my biggest pet peeve along with a few others like when people use the wrong their and there.

6:34 AM
Jon-Michael said...

I see tons of bloggers who are "affluent" adults, contributing members of society that should know better who are guilty of this on a regular basis.

I read a blog for a while from a guy that was trying to become a sports journalist. He had a journalism degree from a major university and made these mistakes ALL the time on his blog. Good luck in trying to get a job buddy! I had to stop reading it because I wanted to correct his grammar mistakes all the time. Here are a few that I have come across over the years. For those who don't know, the incorrect phrase or word is the first one listed.

1. "Should of" instead of "should have."
2. "Better then" instead of "better than."
3. 'Loose' instead of 'lose.'
4. 'Effect' instead of 'affect.'
5. 'Irregardless' instead of 'regardless.' It's a double negative people! I have heard some brilliant minds misuse this word in public speaking seminars multiple times.
6. 'Anyways' instead of 'anyway.' My late grandmother used to get after me about this one when I was 16.

If I think of more, believe me, I will send them your way. You have struck a sore spot with me. :)

PS. If I made any grammatical mistakes in this post, please let me know.

6:39 AM

I hate it when people mix up their and there and your and you're. It's really not that hard to get them right.

6:51 AM
Michelle said...

Words that are mispronounced, like "nucular" instead of nuclear, or "patriarticle" instead of patriarchal, really hurt my ears.

I once saw a car that had apparently been towed, because written in the window was "CAR IN TOE". That hurt too, but mostly because of all the laughing.

7:50 AM
Emily M said...

My favorite language slip from my childhood that my husband and I still use for fun is a cute little abbreviation for "am not." As in: "I emment going with you!" Whoever wrote the English language missed this one. I suppose "ain't" is another variation.

Another one that I struggle with as a graduate of BYU in English is lay v. lie. I know the rules and yet-- I can't give up the old comfortable ways.

8:46 AM
The Lovell's said...

Has anyone noticed the mispronunciation of "Realtor"? How many times have you heard someone refer to their Realtor as "Real-A-tor"? There isn't another a after the l people!

Thanks for a great post!!

10:23 AM
Gretchen said...

There are all manner of lesser imps and demons, but the mother of all annoying slip ups was the one time my husband and I had to sit through an entire sacrament talk on Christ where they kept talking about the "condensation of Christ" instead of the condescension. They seriously must have said it at least 20 times in their talk, so it wasn't just a single instance of mis-speaking. It was all we could do not to have our heads explode.

10:39 AM
Kelli said...

I just came across your blog a few weeks ago when my husband referred me to the Twilight post (hilarious). One of my biggest grammatical pet peeves is when someone says, "I'm going to try and do this." When what they really mean is, "I'm going to try TO do this." And all variations of such...

10:52 AM
Megan said...

Another one to go with Michelle's comment is paradisiacal. Or the Sunday School teacher who thinks the Saints lived in Costco: Kirkland.

But my favorite slip-up du jour (How could I forget?) is my DH's use of "essensually" instead of essentially.

11:06 AM
Pappy Yokum said...

Here in Montana, we hear a lot of "we was". And, how about this one - "How come" instead of "why".

What about, "Where are you at?" Just leave off the "at", it's completely unnecessary (unnecessry) and wrong.

I also used to struggle with this one but have been trying to stop. If you are talking about "a person" being able to do something and then comment about "their" inabilities. If you start singular you should end in singular.

One other and then I'll be done. It's already been mentioned here but I used to have a boss that frequently used the term "irregardless". I already had a dislike of the man and the constant use of that term just made me want to scream.

11:24 AM
Heather O. said...

DUDE. It IS totally "Book of Mormons", NOT "Books of Mormon". The latter makes it sound like you have a whole library of books that Mormon wrote. Seriously. I'll fightcha on this one....

2:07 PM
Bartle Family said...

My personal peeve is when people refer to one person as "they," as in, "they brought me dinner" instead of "she brought me dinner." "They" is plural but the word is almost universally used in reference to a single person. That makes me a little crazy.

2:42 PM
Debbie & Norm said...

I agree with every word! Ever notice how in the newspaper, predators "pray" on their victims! (Of all the nerve!)
I'm an election worker in the local precinct, and after witnessing county election workers slaughter the language in their meetings and in written documents for 20 years, I finally sent them a letter on the apostrophes that seemed to pop up like weeds in words such as “write-in’s” “voter’s” and “pen’s.” But I wished I could follow the example of a college professor who said she'd spit on misused apostrophes-- and on papers she returned, a student might find a suspicious red circle and the word "spit!" next to such an error!
These kinds of errors have multiplied since people have come to rely on spell-check far too much. An editor told me recently that newspapers now use spell-check instead of human copy-readers.
And in spoken language, we still have to listen to terms like "expecially." Or we might suffer, as a friend of mine did, from "very close veins" or the frightening and all too common "Old-timers Disease." I've even heard of a young man with volatile emotions who had "Moose Wings."
To Normal Mormon Husbands I say--you've given many of us a prime opportunity to vent: CONGRADULATION'S!

3:00 PM
Anonymous said...

I just had a conversation yesterday with my mother-in-law when she confused my 2 year old son by calling him "necked" after his bath. She honestly didn't know the correct pronunciation was "naked" or (nay kid). Then the more we thought about it we realized it should be pronounced "naykd" like "raked" or "baked".

I'd also like to add to the list:
1. Using i.e instead of e.g. The term i.e. means "that is"; e.g. means "for example".
2. "Would of" vs "would have"
3. Saying "ensin" instead of "ensign".

And am I the only person who feels like a dork when I say "Books of Mormon"? I understand why it's correct, but I think I'll stick with "copies of the Book of Mormon".

3:10 PM
Megan said...

One from my youth: Axe. "I'm gonna go axe my mom if I can go." Sheesh... if you axe her, who's going to stop you from going?

3:11 PM
Jared said...

I just had to add my Book of Mormon comment. For a long time I argued in favor of Books of Mormon. The problem is that it just isn't correct to say that; the title is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ so it is a proper noun. Therefore, it is actually incorrect to add the s on Book. However, Book of Mormons sounds silly so I'd go with what the fear fam said: "copies of the Book of Mormon."

I also have to second the anyways thing as annoying. It's anyway.

Oh, and another thing I occasionally hear is boughten, as in, "We boughten the couch." Sigh.

What's the best is when someone tries to correct a correctly used effect with an affect. For example, the statement "This policy effected great change" is correct but occasionally you have grammar vigilantes insisting that it is affected and not effected. You have to love the English language!

5:24 PM
Spencer said...

you would actually say

I COULDN'T CARE LESS...not you COULD care less...

if you could care less that mean you still care. if you couldn't care less...that means you don't care at all..can't get any less.

6:31 PM
J Rogers said...

I was a freshman in college before I found out that I drather was not correct. That it was I'd rather. My mom would even sing a song that went, "If I had my druthers, I drather have my druthers than anyone else's I know" I found it embaressing. My english teacher found it fascinating.

7:09 PM
Andymann said...

I would say the thing I like best is when an athlete mixes up analogies like "a walk in the cake" instead of "a walk in the park" or "a piece of cake". Athletes seem to do it all the time.

7:54 PM
tom & laura said...

hi! i'm laura. long time blog-stalker...first time commenter (which i'm sure is not a real word!)

anyway, i had a co-worker that was the WORST! my favorite was after i had done something work related that i guess had impressed her, and she said "oh, laura...you never SEEM to amaze me!"

dang it! i guess i'll try harder next time to amaze you, since i never seem to!

8:39 PM
Beth said...

I just wanted to point out that midwifery is alive and well. As a matter of fact, women who give birth with nurse-midwives attending have more positive birthing experiences than those who use ob-gyns. Women who go with midwives are also less likely to tear, less likely to have a c-section, and are more likely to have shorter labors and shorter pushing times.

Also, my great-great grandmother was a nurse-midwife in Utah in 1900. She was very well respected in the community and any time anyone in her whole town got sick, they would call for her, not the doctor.

8:58 PM
hot garlic said...

My husband and I are reading this post simultaneously and texting about it on skype, so forgive me if he leaves this same comment at the same time I do.

Your blog is HILARIOUS! Our brother-in-law sent an email today with the post back in February about Twilight and Jack from Lost, we were almost crying! Too, too funny. I then refreshed to the main page to read what else you've got. I smell a new favorite!

My husband's boss used to say that it was a "mute" point instead of a moot point. That was 5 years ago and we still make fun of that SOB baffoon, we love nothing more than to make fun of him...

Thanks for the laughs! The Riley's will be back...

10:26 PM
4Life said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 10:29 PM
normal mormon wife said...

Talk about pressure. I'm afraid to leave a comment on this post for fear of the errors that will be found in it!

I mainly wanted to say that I'm thoroughly impressed with your knowledge of the jugular vein! You've come a LONG way since you labeled the hemostat as an artery in our college lab books. (Did you look it up on WebMD or what?)

7:36 AM
Melissa said...

I did a whole post about this, too a while back. You can copy and paste this into your browser to read it. It's good stuff. http://howellherald.blogspot.com/2008/05/pet-peeves.html

7:43 AM
Jon-Michael said...

From the Department of Redundancy Department:

Acronyms and abbreviations drive me crazy when people feel they need to define it further with a word in the acronym. For example:

1. People who refer to an ATM as an ATM Machine. ATM stands for Automatic Teller Machine.

2. In computers, technicians often refer to a Network Interface Card as a NIC Card.

7:57 AM
Mommom said...

I have to post a quick comment... it's a personal peave - Illinois and the number of people who pronounce the "s" on the end... It's silent. Please - I've even heard teachers say it incorrectly!

11:00 AM
Anonymous said...

This technically isn't a grammatical mistake, but it has been a major pet peeve of mine for many years. I hope this is not inappropriate in some way to be writing about, but when the name of the blog has "Mormon" in it, I feel like the audience should be able to relate...

I can't stand when someone is giving a talk or a lesson at church and concludes by saying, "In the name of THY SON, Jesus Christ, amen." Oh wait, so you were actually praying the whole time? Or you pray so often that you're just stuck in the habit of saying that? Or you're taking the "pray always" thing a little too literally?

It simply cannot be that difficult to tell yourself as you're wrapping up, "Remember now, self, you are giving a talk and not a prayer. You are addressing a congregation, and though Heavenly Father probably tuned in to listen for awhile, you were not addressing him directly, and should just close in the normal way."

To me it shows that people don't understand the significance of the statement and/or just aren't paying attention. ARGGGH!

11:21 AM
tami said...

Love this post! The most common offense is misuing Me and I. As in, "Carl and me got a new car," when you should say, "Carl and I got a new car." That rule is broken all the time, even by very educated people.

You should check out the following blogs. They're very funny:



12:23 PM
innocuous said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 8:50 PM
Angela said...

My husband and I always laugh when we're at the store and the bakery says it has "fresh" bread. I'm not sure what they mean by that. I know that's a punctuation issue rather than a grammatical one but I figure they are closely related and the misuse of either is funny.
By the way, your mom was the best piano teacher/therapist EVAR!

8:52 PM
Nikki said...

So, sadly I can't shake my bad Utah grammar. I catch myself saying, fer (for), melk (milk), mounin' (mountain), & pellow (pillow). Sigh... my hubs is always correcting me. He also hates when my dad says, "I'll do that". Example: When ordering at a restaurant- "I'll do the steak" or "I've done the salmon, its good".

9:33 PM
Texas Bucks said...

This is Ted's wife: he has issues with "take" vs "bring" which are not interchangeable. I would like to mention a big pet peeve that I never noticed when living in SLC, UT, but it runs rampant in New England and a bit wild in TX: people say "Barnes and Nobles" and it drives me crazy. Was it ever called that, with both plurals? Don't people pay attention to signs, spelling, and words? Ted and I are both a big snobby when it comes to spelling and grammar as Humanities majors (foreign languages); like you mentioned, you start learning English when you learn another language and we both started at a young age with second languages. We also cringe upon hearing patriartical said like that, Ensign being pronounced like 'EN-sun" (which by the way is explained in small print inside the Ensign--how to pronounce the word), the REAL-A-TOR comments reminded me of how much that bothers me, and finally, when during a talk or testimony someone finishes with, "in thy name" (like you might in prayer, but why address the congregation with 'thy'). Long sentences are my style, though they may be a big run-on-ish... :)

10:41 PM
Noriane said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 11:33 PM
Anonymous said...

For the past few years, I've noticed a trend that irritates me to no end, like when people say "the funny thing is, is that..." or "my point is, is that...

I hear that all the time!

11:35 PM
Bekah said...

Most of my peeves have already been covered by other posters. I have a couple that I haven't addressed, though.

The mispronunciation of the word "divorced". I'd never heard it as "divoriced" until I moved to Idaho.

When people think a sentence should ALWAYS have he/she/you and I instead of him/her/you and me. For example, "Aunt Zelda baked a pie for he and I." NO!!!!!!! She baked it for him and me, dang it!!! It's easy to remember which to use. If the other person was not in the sentence with you, would you use I or me?

That is all...

5:18 PM
hayngrl101 said...

Here's a list of funnies:

verily (verily made it in time)
urchant (instead of urchin)
ambliance (ambulance)

I have to say. I am guilty of saying anyways... and forreals... :)

6:54 PM
Mommom said...

I think I'm going to talk funny having read all the ways that people talk, um, funny...

Either that or I'm never going to speak again

8:15 AM
Emily said...

Cringe worthy words/phrases: Irregardless, needless to say (if it's needless to say, why do people insist on saying it?!), nauseous instead of nauseated, due to the fact that, improper use of 'alas' (I have a friend who repeatedly says, "that's so alas.").

There are probably a lot more, but that's all my poor brain can handle without overloading on poor choices!

9:34 AM
Aroura said...

When people say they need to itch a bug bite. It's scratch people! Scratch!

3:23 PM
JEN said...

One of my favorites-that I hear several times a week-is unthawed. The people who say it mean to state that they've thawed something, but I hear the sentence "I unthawed some milk for you." every time I work. I always follow with "You froze milk for me?" this just confuses them and they blink repeatedly and restate their sentence.

11:26 PM
Joy said...

My biggest pet peeve of all is when I hear someone say "Alls I know" - EGAD!!!! I want to slap them repeatedly!!! When did the word "All" get an "s" attached to it - or when was it made into a plural word???? I can't stand even typing it! Each time I hear someone who has a college education say that phrase, I have to bite my tongue!

11:56 PM
Anonymous said...

At the end of "The Price is Right", Bob Barker would always say something like "don't forget to spay and neuter your pets". My wife always thought it was spRay and neuter. When I heard her say that I couldn't stop laughing.

Your post about the 360 degree turn around (I laugh every time I here someone say that), it got me thinking about when people say "I'm going to give it 110%" or something to that effect. That annoys me because that is impossible. The most you can give is 100%, anything more is impossible.

10:09 AM
Brian said...

What about the whole "literally" thing? I mean, people use literally all of the time when they mean the exact opposite. I believe this common error should be bumped to the main text of your post via the awesome comments update feature.

9:51 PM