Linguistic Idiocy

 

Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Alright, this has gone on long enough now. It’s time for me to address something that’s bugged me and many others for a long time. There is no excuse for it, and it only continues because people are being apathetic.

The problem is the continual degradation of the English language, and it’s a problem indeed.

If you’ve ever been on the Internet, you know what I’m talking about. You see it everywhere, in e-mails and instant messages, on forums and webpages alike. It’s also plenty prevalent in the non-virtual world, where people are perfectly content to flaunt their pathetically childish grammar.

Chances are, you’re probably guilty of a couple of these things. Almost everyone does at least one or two.

Stop it.

There is no reason why anyone who’s out of elementary school, let alone middle or high school, should not know this, especially in today’s day and age of information availability. You are clearly either not thinking or don’t care.

You’re making yourself look like a fool when you don’t bother to use English correctly. Wisen up a little.

And don’t get me started with that “grammar Nazi” crap. If your primary language is English, then you are expected to speak and write it properly. Don’t ask, “Who cares?” I care. Other people care. You are humiliating yourself and the language, and that’s just stupid.

Here are some of the most common mistakes for you:

Your/you’re: AAARGH. I hate this one. Look, it’s extremely simple. An apostrophe denotes a contraction, a removal of letters. “You’re” is short for “you are”– the apostrophe replaces the A. “Your a grammar nazi” means nothing. “What’s you’re problem” doesn’t either. Don’t try to wave it off as being “easier to type”, either. Adding the extra apostrophe and the extra E takes fractions of a second. It’s easier to type “cow” than it is to type “colloquialism”, but the two don’t mean the same thing. “You are” and “belonging to you” don’t mean the same thing either. Don’t mix them up.

Its/It’s: This one also kills me. As before, an apostrophe denotes a contraction. Which can be contracted here: “belonging to it”, or “it is”? You’d better choose the second, because otherwise, you’re wrong. “It’s” means “it is”, or “it has”. “Its” is a modifier. What’s wrong with the car? It’s got a dent in its fender.

They’re/their/there: “They’re” means “they are”. “Their” is a modifier. “There” refers to a place. It’s that simple. They’re headed there on their trip (in the car with the dent in its fender).

Who’s/whose: Gah, don’t you people understand apostrophes? “Whose” is a modifier. “Who’s” means “who is” or “who was”. “Who’s car was that?” is wrong. “I saw a car today. It had a dent in its fender.” “Whose car was it?” “Someone who’s going to have to pay for some repairs.”

Then/than: “Than” compares things. “Then” is an adverb, generally used in relation to time. “We noticed it had a dent in it bigger than a baseball, then left a message on the windshield saying we didn’t do it.”

Affect/effect: This one is a little different, but that doesn’t keep it from being important. You don’t effect something. You affect it. And unless you’re using some fancy English for “feeling”, you don’t feel the affects of something affecting you. “Affect” is a verb. “Effect” is a noun. It’s really that simple.

Pluralizing apostrophes? NO, NO, NO. You do not have calculator’s, or squash’s, or green bean’s, or shoe’s, or book’s, or scissor’s. Apostrophes do not pluralize. No. The end.

To/too: If you’re still making this mistake, go talk to one of your grade school teachers. He or she will quickly lose faith in humanity, and tell you that “too” means “also”, or “very much so”. “To” doesn’t– it’s a preposition.

Quotation marks are not emphasis marks. If you advertise having the “coldest” ice cream in town, I’m not going to be a patron of yours. Why? Because you’re saying that your ice cream is the so-called “coldest”. Maybe if you advertise the coldest ice cream in town, or perhaps the coldest, I might be inclined to have some. But not if the veracity of your temperature claim is in doubt.

Lose/loose: For Pete’s sake. The two don’t even sound alike. “Loose” rhymes with “moose” (unless you pronounce “moose” as “mooz”). If something is loose, it is not tight. You cannot loose something, and you’re not going to find someone with a screw lose. “Loose” is an adjective. “Lose” is a verb.

Breath/breathe: Take a breath. Breathe in. “Breath” is a noun. “Breathe” is a verb.

Definitely: Look at that. See an A? No. That is how it’s spelled.

Of/have: The phrase is not “would of”. It’s “would have”. That’s why the contraction is “would’ve”. Think.

Really, folks. It’s that simple. Bookmark this blog entry if it’ll help you remember these things.

But, seriously, you look like a fool.

And who wants that?

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8 Comments

  1. Michelle

    Ignore my previous reply. It made me giggle till I almost wet the bed.

  2. Michelle

    You sound like such an ass in this post.

  3. Right… somehow I knew you’d take my comment and quote it and state your opinion again. I know what it is, and I just thought I’d put in my two cents as well. Obviously we have different opinions, let’s leave it at that.
    -Lacey

    Lacey, of course I restated my opinion. When talking about one’s beliefs, it’s hard not to restate anything. However, I stated different aspects of it in response to your reply. I did not cut and paste the original post. You made a point, and I attempted to counter it. Of course I had to restate my beliefs. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

    That said, if you don’t want to debate this, that’s fine. I’m cool with that. I hope you know– and I’m not typing that spitefully– that I’m not gonna bite your head off, or anyone’s, for that matter. This post expresses my frustrations, and is mostly true to what I feel, but it’s not indicative of what I’m likely to do. More often than not, I’ll probably ignore a mistake or just kindly point it out.

    At any rate, no hard feelings were meant. See you in a couple days. :)

  4. Lacey

    Right… somehow I knew you’d take my comment and quote it and state your opinion again. I know what it is, and I just thought I’d put in my two cents as well. Obviously we have different opinions, let’s leave it at that.

  5. Diplomatic as usual, and scary to boot. You’d make a good dictator or something, Spence ;P

    I agree on certain accounts. I get pretty antsy about people’s spelling and really basic grammatical errors, mainly because I’m something of a natural proofreader ;P However, after being around people who can’t spell fer crap all the time, I appear to be more laid back about these types of things than you are making yerself out to be…

    ….Though, I kind of wanted to add this:

    “It’s only “harsh” because people not using the language correctly have set the standard lower.”

    Completely true. There has been talk of letting such words as “thru” and “throo” ( wtf? ) into everyday written English — and it being considered grammatically correct. Words like “u” ( again, wtf? ), also. That seriously pisses me off. I was told about this by my English teacher, and she said that if this happens, she hopes to be long dead by the time it does. I hope I am too. I couldn’t stand to see English degraded so much :/ I love English too much to be able to see that happen.

    Anyways. I’ll stop here before I rant too much.

  6. It’s only “harsh” because people not using the language correctly have set the standard lower.

    I’m not talking about the people who accidentally make the mistakes. That happens to everyone. It’s the difference between the people who don’t remember the rules and the people who don’t know them. If they’re using English, they should be using English words properly.

    they don’t force you to write and talk like them either…
    -Lacey

    So, is it wrong for an English teacher to tell a student that they misspelled a word, or to correct them on their grammar? After all, no one should force anyone else to write and talk like them.

    I’m just saying, you shouldn’t care so much about how others use the english language.
    -Lacey

    If someone were to say, in their German class, “Ich bist eine Person,” they would be immediately regarded as wrong. Why? Because “bist” is the verb conjugation for “you”, not “I”. It’s essentially saying “I you are a person.” It’s not a legitimate sentence– “bist” is not interchangeable with “bin”.

    “Your a person” isn’t a sentence either. “Your” is not interchangeable with “you’re”. Neither is “it’s” with “its”, or “there” with “their” or “they’re”, or any other example I listed in the post. A language is a language, regardless of whether or not it is your first language. It is not acceptable to use words incorrectly in German, and it isn’t in English, either.

    Consistency is what defines a language. It’s why the dictionary was invented, it’s why languages in general developed. If your word for “sun” is “ugh”, and mine is “woorgh”, then we cannot communicate. When we follow uniform standards, everyone can understand what each other means.

    If we all discarded standards and allow “your” to pass as “you’re”, how long will it be until “night” and “knight” mean the same thing? They sound the same, don’t they? Besides, it’s only one letter, what’s the deal?

    The deal is that “night” is not the same as “knight”, no matter their similarities. I would not want to tell the country of Wales that it’s equivalent to a few large sea mammals– partially because it’s not true, and partially because it’s more than a little bit rude. Greece would probably be even more offended.

    We live in the Information Age. As such, ignorance as to basic fundamentals is almost inexcusable. Those that didn’t learn these lessons when they should have now have vast knowledge at their fingertips. A quick Internet search, or a trip to the library, or a five-minute talk with an English teacher would solve these problems.

    The English language should not have to suffer because of the ignorance and laziness of a growing amount of people.

    Crap, now I’m freaked out about whether I’m writing everything correctly…
    -Harry Potter

    Don’t be. If you made a mistake, I’d kindly point it out to you, and that would be that. It’s not as if I’m going to tear your head off and feed it to my dog if you typo.

  7. Yeah, I don’t think you should care so much either, but yes, it IS annoying. Crap, now I’m freaked out about whether I’m writing everything correctly…

  8. Lacey

    Um… a little harsh Spence.
    You know I try to type and talk as best I can but even I make some of those mistakes. It’s not someone making themselves look stupid, no one is perfect and always remembers those things. I also know that’s not why you wrote this entry. The people who constantly make those mistakes, aren’t gonna care if they look like idiots making those mistakes. They aren’t really doing anything that should bother anyone else. If you’re reading what they wrote or are talking to them, that’s your choice, they don’t force you to write and talk like them either, they just don’t care, and that’s their problem. I’m not calling you a grammar nazi, or anything like that, I’m just saying, you shouldn’t care so much about how others use the english language.

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