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grievance: abuse of the english language part deux (english 102)

I've gotten tons of responses about my "English 101" blog. However, most were simply of amusement. The rules I outlined then are still repeatedly offended by people who have read it. With that said... I don't care. You're all getting a D and barely passing. So now onto English 102....

1. This rule is near and dear to my heart and offending it makes me so wildly and insanely angry that you really should heed the warning. In a written, yet informal conversation, à la AOL Instant Messenger or e-mail, actually READ the words that your fellow interlocutor has written. I've made it absurdly clear (in other ways other than this series of blogs, incidentally) that while I may make typos, I pay a great deal of attention to spelling things correctly and formulating grammatical functions as they are intended to be formed. So, instead of CORRECTING people when they offend these rules, I simply say it or write it back to them, correctly. And yet, people ignore what I've said or written and continue to say or write what they please. I am SO personally offended by this irreverence for language that I have named this my CARDINAL SIN. Especially when the word in question is the name of a friend of me (note rule 8) or my name. The first time someone speaks to me and calls me "Jen," I'm okay with that. When I say "Jenn" back to him or her regarding myself, and then am then called "Jen" again, I'm liable to break the darling's face. Just PAY ATTENTION.

2. While "better than me" can be used correctly, it's seldom the case. Used correctly: "he hit her harder than me," as in "he hit her harder than he hit me." But this goes back, in some ways to the "who"/"whom" bit with using the correct cases of words: "she's smarter than me" is COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE. Constructed correctly: "She's smarter than I." I do understand that this sounds austerely stuffy. An easy way around it? "She's smarter than I am." And that flushing out tells you EXACTLY why it ain't "me": "she's smarter than me is"? The holy gods of grammar frown upon you, young word-abuser.

3. "A whole nother." Really? REALLLLYYYYY? The reason there is an "n" between "a" and "other" when contracting to "another" is because "a other" sounds like garbage. Know what else sounds like garbage? Your face. No. I kid. "Nother" sounds like damned garbage. The "l" at the end of "whole" functions as the "n" does. It's just unnecessary and... (let's hear it, everybody, for my favorite word) gratuitous.

4. Stop using "that" because you're too lazy to put together a construction like "which" (I know, real hard that one) or "who." You sound like a five year old.

5. Commas ALWAYS go inside quotation marks. As do periods. It doesn't make sense. But you HAVE to do it that way. Tough shit.

6. "Quote" is not a noun. It's a verb. "Quotation" is its noun form. "I was reading some of her quotes"? That sentence makes me want to hurl. On your face. Which, according to rule number three, also sounds like garbage. Yes I just used a quotation of my own.

7. "CD's from the 1980's." = my worst nightmare. Apostrophes never ever ever ever ever denote pluralization. They have two jobs: contractions (like "it's") and possession ("Mary's" ). What the holy hell made people start doing this? I'm actually curious as to what spawned this sheer idiocy.

8. "S"s (not "S's") and apostrophes have a complicated relationship. For that matter, possession in English is a little complicated. So allow me to indulge myself in a full explanation of some things you may not know about this strange system:
Rule 1: When making something possessive that ends in an "s," you have two choices. You can either add an apostrophe AND an "s," like so: "Marcus's." Or you can simply add an apostrophe: "Marcus'." IMPORTANT NOTE: if you decide to use "Marcus's," you must, when speaking, say "Marcus-iz." If you decide to go with "Marcus'," you must simply say "Marcus." No "iz." Either is totally acceptable as long as you maintain some kind of consistency between the written word and spoken.
Rule 2: The add-an-apostrophe-but-no-"s" rule also applies to words or names that end in "s"-sounds, such "Maurice," or "Liz," or even "instance," becoming "Maurice'," "Liz'," and "instance'." Or you are welcome to put those "s"s in if you'd like and get "Maurice's," "Liz's," and "instance's" (which is DEFINITELY different than (not "then") "instances." However, you must maintain the way you speak these words based on rule 1.
Rule 3: Making nouns that end in "s" plural: ALWAYS add an "es." As simple as that. The family of Mr. Jones is "the Joneses." If you want to make THAT plural, as in, belonging to the Jones family, you can go with "the Joneses's," or the "Joneses'." And this is why I ALWAYS go with NOT adding "s"s after apostrophes. "Joneses's" must be pronounced "Jones-iz-iz." WHAT! No, no, no... (just like Destiny's Child said).
Rule 4: Alternate ways to manifest possession: the "of _____" construction. An easy way to avoid this "Joneses's"/"Joneses'" nightmare is to simply say "of the Joneses." However it is not "of the Joneses's" or "of the Joneses'." That is just silly. You're essentially doing possession TWICE. So if THAT's the rule, why would you say "a friend of mine"? "A friend of me" or "a friend of myself" is what should be there instead. Same goes for "a friend of Katie." N.B. I understand that saying "a friend of myself" sounds like a vouchsafeing tactic, so I don't actually expect anyone to SAY that in informal talk. But if you're writing, you'd better watch it, bitches.

9. "He"/"she"/"they" and "his"/"her"/"their" are making me want to throw things. Let's get this straight for the last damned time: if you are talking about a single human being, "he or she" CANNOT be referred to as "they." He or she must be referred to as "he or she" or "he" or "she." "They" is used to describe a collective group. "People are stupid. They don't know how to speak proper English." (Low blow, I know.) "There is a person reading this blog who is an idiot. He or she does not know how to speak proper English." 'Nuff said.

Can someone, just ONE person, who reads this at least pretend to try?



  1. I'd like to toss in my own pet peeve for English 103.

    The ever popular us of "I shouldn't of" instead of "I shouldn't have"

  2. I'm surprised you haven't even touched on my favorite topic that makes any victim feel like the world's biggest dumbass: Commonly used words that most grad school grads can't spell to save their lives. Ever receive a letter from a friend/family member/boss you assumed was moderately educated (you wouldn't associate yourself with idiots, right?) and it contains the following items?


    2. 'Rediculous' - Ok, everyone, I know that in lower school we were taught to use 'inventive spelling' when we encountered something new, but when you have at least a High School Diploma or a Bachelor's Degree you should know that spelling ridiculous with an 'e' is, well, ridiculous. When I'm in the position in my career where I have people reporting to me, and I see this word, spelled this way, come across my desk, the responsible party will immediately be asked to leave the premises; no questions asked. They should be well aware of how stupid they are. It's somewhat my fault for not realizing they had the IQ of a potato when I decided to hire them.

    3. People who 'do good' - I don't think I have to explain myself on this one. You sound like an uneducated fuck. If you have already obtained a salaried job and still continue to talk like an indentured fieldworker, feel blessed that you slipped through the cracks this time and pray that somebody doesn't notice that you may have failed english in 2nd grade and have yet to redeem yourself.

    Enjoy those...many more where that came from.