If You Have to Have Grammar Peeves, at Least Get Them Right

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My peeve is peevish grammarians. Especially ones that don’t know their grammar.

I don’t know who created this meme, but it’s all over the internet. I don’t get it. Why does this kind of griping go viral so easily? Why do so many people relate to it? Why do we even have “grammar peeves”? In other words, why does it bother us that other people have language habits that are different from our own? Even if they are clearly and recognizably incorrect, why should it bother me at all?

But this curmudgeonly little list isn’t just pompous, it’s also sloppy. Half of these confident assertions range from questionable to downright wrong. Numbers 4-6 are correct, but vague and rather unhelpful. Number 7 is just odd. The only one I have no issue with is number 9.

Let’s take a look:

Number 1: This expression is common and clearly understood either way. “I could care less” could intend sarcasm, implying that it would be be very difficult to care less. It still works.

Number 2: Not true. You use apostrophes when indicating the plural of lowercase letters: “Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.” “Mind your p’s and q’s.” It’s a rare situation, admittedly, but rarely and never are not the same thing.

Number 3: Literally is often used figuratively to add emphasis. This decades-old use has led to a new definition recognized by all major dictionaries. All three of mine do: Merriam-Webster, American-Heritage, and Oxford American. I don’t happen to like this myself. I wish literally just literally meant literally. But I don’t get to vote.

Number 7: Actually, it means exactly what I think it means. I looked it up to be sure. Honestly, this one’s weird. I can’t recall ever seeing nonplus misused.

Number 8: In fact, affect has a noun use. Effect has a verb use. Look it up.

Number 10: Of course irregardless is a word by every definition of word I’ve ever seen. It’s an old and understandable confusion of two similar pre-existing words (irrespective and regardless) and isn’t widely accepted in some circles. You might not like it. You might consider it a bad word, a dumb word, even an ignorant word, but it’s a word.

If you want to be snarky and peevish, I won’t try to stop you. I don’t know why you’d want to, but be my guest. Just do some research before you spout off.

*****

Comments are welcome below!

About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Trish Smith
    Trish Smith07-08-2015

    Ok, so while I do not wish to be the grammar Nazi, I do want to point out the distinct lack of the issue with “alot.” It is either “a lot” or “allot” as in ‘ment’ and while every 6th grader I have ever taught had used it…that still does not make it a proper word!

  2. Rhonda Barfield
    Rhonda Barfield07-08-2015

    I don’t get the hoopla, either. Fun post, Brian!

    • Richard Ashton
      Richard Ashton02-10-2016

      Your reply has left me completely nonplussed

  3. Geunita Ringold
    Geunita Ringold07-06-2015

    I have to admit that it does bother me when I see four, five. and six. It especially bothers me when it is someone writing a blog and even more so if it is an educator. Using good and well incorrectly also gets on my nerves. But language changes so fast that it is hard to keep up with everything.

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko07-08-2015

      Hm. Do you really think language changes fast? I don’t. It seems to me that it changes very slowly over a long period of time.

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