September 27 11

I make grammar mistakes. I’m sure that I make them all the time on this here blog. I mean, hell, just recently, I wasn’t really paying attention and only read part of a tweet and totally made the wrong grammar call. Luckily for me, of course, it was TwitterGrammar and not, you know, part of my actual job. I have a degree in Book and Magazine Publishing. What this means, of course, is that I took many, many classes on proofreading and copy editing and copy editing and proofreading. My best friends during school were The Chicago Manual of Style and those lovely guys called Strunk & White. I have been editing—by trade—since 2001, the year I graduated. That’s ten years, if you are playing at home.

I have grammar pet peeves. I mean, who doesn’t?

I care if you use I and me incorrectly, and if you are a relative of mine, you will be corrected.

I don’t understand that people do not understand that you’re means you are and that it’s means it is. They are contractions.

I do not enjoy sentences that end in AT, i.e., “Where are you at?”

I can’t stand when people write 80′s. It’s ’80s.

I want to cry when I hear people say “might could.”

I want to teach the world the difference between a hyphen, an n-dash, and an m-dash.

I am annoyed when people say that they could care less, because, well, this implies that they do care. The actual phrase is that they couldn’t care less.

I give a f$%k about an Oxford comma.

I loathe a double space after a period.

I had to stop reading a book because of a grammar pet peeve.

Now here’s the really unfortunate rub.

I was really digging the book. Sure, I was only 138 pages into a 1069 page book (we’re talking e-reader pages here, not real-life pages, obviously). but I liked where it was headed; I liked what I had read.

Myself and Conor. MYSELF AND CONOR?!?!?

Really?

I mean, this book is written by a Booker Prize winner. And this was not an isolated incident. I would be willing to let one mistake go. But this was the third time I caught a serious misuse of the word ‘myself’ and I just couldn’t go on. My eyes were bleeding. Myself and Conor.

Blasphemy, I say.

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  1. I solve my grammar problem by sending my posts to grammercheck.com and they send it back fixed for 5$ per 300 words

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    Comment by barak on September 27, 2011
  2. That sounds very Irish to me. Is the story set in Ireland? I know it sounds wrong, but maybe in that context you could give it another chance?

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    ali replied on

    Yes. Ireland, I’m pretty sure.

    But, isn’t it still wrong…I mean, grammatically. It’s certainly wrong to my ears and to my eyes. I don’t know if I could keep going. hee.

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    Tamara replied on

    Well, strictly speaking, yes. But it seems to me that it adds authenticity, especially if that’s how people really talk. (Mind you, I don’t know this book.)I know that sounds weird coming from an editor, but I give allowances for regionalisms. I wouldn’t want to see “myself and Connor” in academic paper, though. :) Also, mixing up “good” and “well” really gets to me.

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    Allison Zapata replied on

    The good and well thing kills me!!!!

    Comment by Tamara on September 27, 2011
  3. I have no idea how to use I and me correctly. Can you help? :-)

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    Comment by Laura on September 27, 2011
  4. This slipped out of my mouth at work once in response to “Where are you at?”

    Me: “Behind the at.”

    WHOOPS.

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    Comment by Daisy on September 27, 2011
  5. Have you read “The Help”? Did the grammar in that set your skin on fire?

    Honestly, in the grand scheme of the English language, this isn’t that big a travesty – I think you’re seriously overreacting.

    ESPECIALLY if the story is set in Ireland and the author is consistent with the use, you should really just chill and enjoy the book.

    They’re clearly a good enough writer to win a prestigious literary prize…

    Think of it as a shorter “Myself, I still got age-rage…”

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    jess replied on

    i had no idea anne enright was two people.

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    Comment by Caitlin on September 27, 2011
  6. I swear on a stack of Twilight books that I JUST sent my sister an email reply to her media blast asking if she wanted to know about her grammar error.

    Our family is not known for our tact, but we are known for our hard and fast grammar corrections.

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    Comment by Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] on September 27, 2011
  7. Maybe that is the way the character speaks though? I mean do you only read books where the characters speak and think in perfect grammar? Just a question, it really doesn’t bug me either way if you quit reading a book for that. My grammar is horrible but I am a science person.

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    ali replied on

    It’s not always a hard-and-fast rule for me, no.

    BUT…as I have said, I have some grammar pet peeves and this is one of them. The misuse of MYSELF…no matter if that’s how the main character speaks and thinks…still bugs ME.

    This is about me.
    It bugged me enough to put the book down.

    That was my point.

    I mean. I read Push all the way to the end.

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    Comment by Tammi Marie on September 27, 2011
  8. I was just reading The Child Garden by Geoff Ryman; wonderful book, interesting ideas, engaging characters, good narration.

    Unfortunately for me, the editor apparently couldn’t spell. And I’m talking every other page. A dropped “s” here, an extra “d” there… whole meanings changed by misspellings. “Weaves” and “Waves” are not the same thing. It was extraordinarily frustrating.

    I am glad that I soldiered on and read it though, I would have missed out on a good story otherwise.

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    ali replied on

    I do worry that I am missing a good story…but with so many books on my horizon—right now I’m reading and loving The Weird Sisters—I don’t know if it’s worth it We’ll see. Maybe I’ll go back.

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    Dawn K. replied on

    Ahh! The Weird Sisters! I LOVE that book! So quirky and strange, but an awesome read. Surprisingly, when this was a book club selection, I was the only one who liked it, even just a little.

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    ali replied on

    I only just started it this morning on the subway, but so far I really like it!

    Comment by Jessica on September 27, 2011
  9. I am horrible with the double spacing after punctuation. I was taught to do so by all of my high school English teachers. I never knew it was wrong until I entered college but by then the habit had already been formed.

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    ali replied on

    I think most people do the double space out of habit…unless they are lawyers. Hee.
    :)

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    Comment by Shannon on September 27, 2011
  10. I….um…am a lawyer who double-spaces! Strange to say but I think this practice of double-spacing is pretty widespread. I was always taught to double-space after the punctuation mark and the habit stuck; from the previous commenter I am presuming there are lots of us out there. There are a lot of grammatical errors out there that make me want to gouge my eyes out with a sharp apostrophe though. The misuse/abuse of contractions in particular makes me tear up.

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    ali replied on

    So, here’s the thing with the double space. It was invented for TYPEWRITERS. Typewriter fonts were monospaced…meaning every character took up the same amount of space so the double space made sense. But not, computer fonts are not monospaced…and there’s no longer a need for a double space.

    The Chicago MAnual of Style
    The AP style book
    And MLA
    all use SINGLE SPACING after a period.

    So as an editor, I’m the one who has to go in and TAKE OUT all the extra spacing, since I’m using a style guide as my guide.

    So you can see that even though it’s a hard habit for people to break…it’s one that’s a huge pet peeve for me…

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    ali replied on

    obviously that should say NOW computer fonts are not monospaced.

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    Jen replied on

    Wow, that is really awesome! Thanks for the info, I love fun facts like this (although for you I guess it is less a ‘fun fact’ and more a ‘soul-crushing reality’ every time you have to remove an extraneous space). Apparently the one-space rule has also moved across to legal briefs too. Consider me converted!

    Comment by Jen on September 27, 2011
  11. I too let things go when I read because of colloquialisms. Because let’s face it, I know the right way on most occasions, but if you here me speak in person or how I write on my blog, I make glaring errors all the time. Just this last weekend someone called me out on it.

    Also, the “where you at?” is a very Midwestern/Chicago thing. I end every sentence with a preposition. And you can’t convince me it is wrong. :)

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    I think this particular case was just too grating on my ear and eyes…but I pick and choose really.

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    Kristabella replied on

    Thanks for not pointing out that I apparently don’t know the difference between HERE and HEAR.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!

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    ali replied on

    since you weren’t telling me that I was “SERIOUSLY OVERREACTING” I chose not to call you on your mistake.

    Dawn K. replied on

    Midwestern speech patterns FTW!! I’m from Kansas and everything ends in a proposition. I try so hard in my professional writing and conversation to not do this, but it’s such a hard habit to break.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kristabella on September 27, 2011
  12. Oh my goodness I hate when I’m reading a book and I notice something off. I’m not as well versed in grammar as you are but when a normal person notices something is off it must be bad!

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    Comment by Courtney on September 27, 2011
  13. I hate to comment on grammar, because I’m so likely to make stupid mistakes. However, most grammar pet peeves still make me crazy.

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    Comment by Angi on September 27, 2011
  14. Irish people say myself and …. all the time. I can tell you the weirdest, most bewilderingly irritating grammatical error that has become so commonplace in England over the last few years that it is hard to find anyone who thinks it is wrong. They say “I was sat/ I was stood/ I am sat/ I am stood. I cannot stand it. Unfortunately I usually end up looking like a crazy person, throwing a tantrum all by myself whenever I try to talk about it. Do you agree with me? Nobody in the rest of the english speaking world would say that, would they???????

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    Aoife replied on

    Also, the reason that Irish people use the different grammatical patterns when they speak is that they are more direct translations from the native language. Most are bilingual speaking both Irish and English and so have developed some ways of speaking that may sound odd to other english speakers. However, they very rarely, unlike English english speakers, use these spoken patterns when writing.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Aoife on September 27, 2011
  15. I’ll bite … What is the difference between a hyphen, an n-dash, and an m-dash?

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    alimartell replied on

    so, this is a super simple explanation of the differences:
    hyphen…used for compound words like open-mouthed kiss or sister-in-law
    n-dash (width of the letter N)…used for ranges like ages 0–9 or 1984–1999
    m-dash (width of the letter M)…used for a sudden break in the thought like She hit her knee—and her ego—when she fell.

    It probably doesn’t make much sense…I just get bothered when people use hyphens when they should be using m-dashes. I love m-dashes. They look so lovely in print.

    God I’m a nerd…

    [Reply]

    Aoife replied on

    I fully support nerdism of this kind.

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    steph replied on

    This just changed my life. Thank you for sharing this information!!!

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    Comment by LizP on September 27, 2011
  16. Hyphen? N-dash? M-dash? I had no idea.

    Sorry for the double spaces after periods; Mrs. Fisher banged that into my head in 7th grade typing class and I’ve never been able to overcome it.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Sharyn on September 27, 2011
  17. One of my biggest pet peeves — besides apostrophe problems on business signs and in newsletters from my childrens’ school — is the misuse of real/really. It sounds wrong, but it’s so prevalent I was beginning to doubt myself. So I asked an English/linguistics teacher. eg. It’s real hot out there. No, it’s not. It’s really hot out there.

    The other one isn’t grammatical, but pure oral laziness. There is an R in library. It’s not a fruit.

    [Reply]

    Comment by suze on September 28, 2011
  18. My firm’s standard is to double space after a period in all of our client letters. HATE.

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    Comment by Angella on September 28, 2011
  19. When would you EVER use “might could.” I can’t imagine that working whether you were a grammar queen or not. Seriously, I need an example. It that a Canadian thing?

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    Comment by Michele on September 28, 2011
  20. I couldn’t agree more, though I’d like to add the overuse of the phrase “that said” and passive voice in academics. I suspect these are particular to me because of the kind of editing I do most often.

    Also, I just put together that you work for Canadian Family, as I was noticing that Canadian Living is part of St. Joseph’s (where I also work). My mind, she is blown.

    [Reply]

    Comment by E3 on September 29, 2011
  21. I’ve noticed a lot of people lately who seem to use the word “myself” when they’re trying to be more formal, and they just sound like idiots.

    I CANNOT TAKE IT when people use apostrophes in plurals. Even many people who are supposed to be educated in these things do it with capitals/abbreviations (such as CD’s or DVD’s). I took a red marker to a box my mom packed and labeled during my recent move. I’m such an asshole. “Thanks for your help, mom! Now I’m going to shit on your efforts!”

    [Reply]

    Comment by Anna on September 29, 2011
  22. Thanks for sharing this very awesome blog! You’ve done wonders and it looks amazing!

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    Comment by Wendy on September 30, 2011
  23. Oh, how I relate (and am totally self-conscious about the grammar in this comment right now)! I remember WAY BACK we went to The Keg, and I was in hysterics because the waiter kept calling everyone “Yourself” — i.e., “Would yourself like some soup with your salad?”

    A misused “myself” drives me bonkers to the point of giggles, yes. ;)

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    Comment by Haley-O (Cheaty) on October 2, 2011
  24. hi! i am living with grammar in my komp, and in my pone. and i think that important think is good man, with good heard. The gram. thinks important to – but we have many thinks for help :-) Thank you for great post!

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    Comment by Gila on October 3, 2011
  25. I’m with you on the grammar pet peeves, but the quote you posted looks like the novel is narrated in the first person, which means that depending on the time frame and the character’s education, all bets are off when it comes to proper grammar.

    That said, it would still annoy the shit out of me.

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    Comment by Liz on October 4, 2011
  26. I agree…Most people commit mistakes and no one is perfect, right?So it will be okay to commit mistakes and learn from it…

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    Comment by Helga on October 4, 2011
  27. Mistakes are one of the things we have to take note in life..Make sure that we never make it again…learn from it…

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    Comment by Keira on October 12, 2011
  28. Sometimes, mistakes are inevitable…All we have to do is accept the consequences and make sure we know what we will do the next time we encounter those mistakes.

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    Comment by Solen on October 17, 2011
  29. Hi…Thank you for the inspiring post and I am looking forward to share this to my family members…

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    Comment by Gia on October 18, 2011
  30. I love this post so much and I want to congratulate you!!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Zea on October 24, 2011
  31. I love the theme you have here and of course the content of the article too…

    [Reply]

    Comment by Fresy on October 25, 2011
  32. [...] about your date to the senior prom. It’s about your biggest fears. It’s about your grammar pet peeves. It’s about that man who farted on you on the subway. It’s about that dentist [...]

    Pingback by » Lifestyle Writing. 2011 is the New 2004. Cheaper Than Therapy on November 1, 2012
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