Right here at the very beginning of this little post, let me confess that I don't pay enough attention to my grammar, spelling, and proper word usage. I don't proofread my posts as thoroughly as I do other writings. It isn't that I don't respect you, it's just that... well, I'm not sure. :) Anyway, this post is not meant to be all high and mighty by any means. Having said that, though, there are a few things that bother me as I travel around the blogsphere, and what better place to unload my frustrations than right here? I say "frustrated" because these things are so simple. The frustrations stem from three areas:
1. Using the right word 2. Spelling that right word 3. Using Apostrophes
(I'm not going to talk about other punctuation, or where quotation marks are supposed to be put, because the Americans and the British do it differently.) And I am not really talking about this blog or the comments to this blog because, frankly, I can't remember it happening here; for some reason I seem to attract an educated audience - more so than myself, so this is not for you. I simply hope that you will, because you also travel around the blogosphere as I do, nod your heads along with me. Then I hope you will add some examples to my too short list, in your comments.
Then we will throw a party and feel all superior together. I may even reopen the pub Friday night for that purpose. Here goes the short list. (It is short because I want to leave room for your own examples. Plus, you all know by now how lazy I am. Plus you also know how much I hate to write long posts.)
1. There are many examples of misused homonyms, but let's use "to, too and two."
I went "to" bed. I went to bed "too." I have "two" beds. I have two beds, "too." I have to go now, to be in one of my two beds. You have to go to bed in one of your two beds, too.
See how easy that was? Won't you comment on your own pet-peeve misused homonym? ---------
2. There, their, they're. And apostrophes.
Why is the use of apostrophes so difficult for people, people? Why did so many children stay home sick the day the English teacher covered apostrophes? Judging from my travels around the blogosphere, I am not alone in my loathing of misused apostrophes.
In thinking back through my foggy memory, I can recall only two uses for apostrophes: to show possession and to indicate missing letters in contractions. I'm not talking about the single marks you use for quotations within quotations. Those aren't apostrophes.
The ball is hers. The balls are theirs. (I realize we are approaching another area of difference between American and British usage, as to when to use singular or plural verbs, but that is not my point here.)
If the thing that is owned is owned by one person, then use 's. If it is owned jointly by two or more people, then use s'. Jimmy's ball. Trees' leaves. So easy. Well, most of the time. How about children's and childrens'? Who can tell me? Anyone? Anyone? Heh.
Actually, this can be quite entertaining. At least it can if your mind works like mine and Soubriquet's. For example, where would you put the apostrophe in "Farmers Market"? (Actually, I think I read this one on Sage's blog a long time ago, not Soubriquet's. But he will enjoy the little mental swordfight anyway.)
"Farmer's Market?" "Farmers' Market?" Depends on whether one farmer owns the market, or whether seven farmers own the market. Me? I say neither one. The market could be owned by a city slicker who owns the vacant lot the event is held on. In that case, the sign over the entrance should simply read, "Farmers Market" - no apostrophe at all. Meaning several farmers are selling here, but they don't own it.
Onward and upward. ---------
2b. The other occasion to use apostrophes: contractions.
There, their and they're. DO NOT be afraid here. DON'T be afraid here.
They are going over there. They're going over there. Their dog is going over there where they're. Heh. Forget that last one.
And while I am at it, may I briefly mention "your" and "you're?" Good god almighty, people! This isn't rocket science here! (Just in case Stephanie reads this.)
You are running fast. You're running fast. Your car. The car is yours. "You're" means "you are." Your means it belongs to you. Your horse. Not "your going to dinner." Please.
And "lose" and "loose." Ah, well. I will leave that one for youse to deal with. ---------
3. "Was" and "were." I save the easiest for last.
"Was" is singular, and "were" is plural.
But "were" is also theoretical, and "you" has only become singular in the last couple hundred years. By that last statement, I mean "you" used to only mean plural, and was used only to refer to several people. When you wanted to mean just one person, you used to just say "thou." Not so today, of course. Now you say "you" in either situation, plural OR singular. And that's the rub: "you" singular has kept the same verb as "you" plural. And so you say, "You WERE there last night," not, "You WAS there last night." Just as if you were talking to two people instead of just one.
"Were" is used when the sentence is theoretical? Sure. That means if you see the word "if" nearby, it is a sure sign you will be using "were" pretty soon and not "was." Sometimes "was" is used incorrectly because it often "sounds right," but it never is. I screw this up a lot myself. But...
"If I were you." Not, "If I was you." I'm not you. I never will be you. It is only theoretical. Use "were."
"If George Bush WERE to come back, I would scream!" Theoretical. "Were," not "was" - because his presence is theoretical, not actual. Again, note the word "if" in the sentence, and use that word as your cue.
"George Bush WAS here last night. The vapors remain!" Use "was" IF he truly WERE here last night.
Okay. You've got it. You've always had it. I'm leaving now. Otherwise this would be another long post.
What are your favorite words and usages you see in the blogosphere that make you growl? Tell me in your comments. ---------
The following is for Ettarose for not bothering to comment on a post that even has her name in the title: