October 08, 2009

A Grammar Break

I am not an expert on grammar. In high school and college I loved the literature portion of English classes, but could barely diagram a sentence to save my life. Still, having spent 10 years as a journalist, I grasped an understanding and appreciation for correct grammar.
Sure, you could go through my blog and find errors. I'm more likely to end a sentence with a preposition than rework it into a proper format. Still, there are certain words and phrases that drive me nuts.

  • "For certain" or "For sure"
As in, "I'm not for certain" or "I'm not for sure." I picked up this pet peeve from mother. She was constantly annoyed by a high school friend of mine who would always respond with "I'm not for certain" when he didn't know an answer. Take out the "for" please. You're not certain, you're not sure. I think it was a regional thing because once I moved away from my hometown I never heard that phrase again.
  • "Completely destroyed" or "Totally destroyed"
News reporters love to use those two phrases. Here is my beef: how can something be partially destroyed? It can't. Thus, the house that burned down is destroyed. Period. Whenever we hear that phrase during the news Hubby looks at me waiting for my rant.

I have no idea what inspired today's rant. For some reason those phrases have been stuck in my head lately. As I said, I'm no "grammarian." I have slip ups, just like everyone else. I don't judge people who use those phrases. I just really needed to get that off my chest!


maryanne said...

This sort of thing never bothers me, for some reason - although I do try to avoid doing it myself.

LauraC said...

My pet peeve is nauseated versus nauseous. Stupid I know! Still drives me crazy!

Stephanie B said...

We all have our pet peeves. I don't remember using the former (though I've heard it), but, as for the second, living in hurricane country and in the technical world, "partially destroyed" is commonly in use and has a very particular meaning, especially with regards to demolition and explosives.

When describing a rocket, for instance, where they send the self-destruct signal, "Partially destroyed" means that the self-destruct was not entirely successful and big junks fell back down instead of the relative benign small fragments. That's a big deal. True, it's destroyed, but the difference is important.

I've heard the same thing to differentiate houses that have been gutted or structurally damaged in a storm to those that have been eradicated and left with just a foundation to show they ever existed.

Becky said...

I go bonkers when I hear "First Annual" UH, it can't be ANNUAL if it's the first!!!!! I don't care if you are planning to do it annually, if it's the first year, wait till next year before adding the word "Annual!" thankyouverymuch!

Also people who pronounce often with the "t" sound.

WHEW! I feel better now too. :)

Quadmama said...

OK Stephanie, it figures you would go all rocket scientist on me and prove "partially destroyed" exists. Point taken. But totally destroyed still totally bothers me.
Becky: I forgot about First Annual. Add that to my list!

Stephanie B said...

We are what we are. I had a reader once that couldn't stand that I used "gilded" frequently to describe sunlit this and that. We all have things that just don't work for us.

Marilynne said...

I read today that "Whatever" is the most annoying word for most people. Then I thought, yes, but I USE IT. IT CAN'T BE THAT BAD!

My least favorite is "my bad" which I first heard on the program where kids tried to run a town. (XXXnation) I forget the name. This little girl was always doing whatever she wanted and she'd just say "Deal with it" or "My bad" and continue on her way.

Sadia said...

I knew there was a reason we were friends, even apart from the oodles of toddler girl cuteness we share! My peeve: "The reason why is because." Aargh. "The reason", or "because," or even "why ..." are perfectly adequate.

I have many many grammar peeves, but sentence-terminal preposition placement isn't one. There hasn't been a spoken dialect of English (that I'm aware of, but I'm not a historical linguist) that doesn't allow prepositions to end a sentence. That rule derived from Latin, which was considered a "perfect" language. In Latin, you CAN'T end a sentence with a preposition because they're part of other words. Linguistics lesson over. Thanks for listening.

Brooke said...

Oh, I have tons of grammar pet peeves. I think the worst is "yous" as in the plural of "you." Drives me nuts.

A big one around here is saying, "Can I come with?" instead of "Can I come with you?"

And there are the classic good/well mistakes and that/which/who errors - but I just bite my lip on those, unless it's my kids.

OK, now I feel better too :)

Quadmama said...

I think this post served a good purpose... it let everyone vent their grammar pet peeves!

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