I Like to Speak Proper(ly)

October 26, 2009 at 9:57 am (Rants) (, , , , )

While on fall break this year, I decided to take one day to visit my mom at her work.  She is an eighth grade teacher, something that requires more patience than I could ever hope to acquire.  Anyway, at the end of 7th period, a boy in the class told my mom that he needed to head to his language arts class because he likes to “speak proper.”  My jaw almost dropped.  Not that I don’t have any friends that obliterate the English language just as terribly as this eighth grader.  I definitely do.  Still, it amazed me that this student was actually using improper grammar in his quest to explain the importance of speaking properLY.

This of course brings me to grammar lesson number 3: The difference between adjectives and adverbs.

  • Adjectives modify nouns (or other substantives).
  • Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

While I don’t personally feel like this should be a terribly tough concept to grasp, it seems to be quite difficult.

Basic example:  I was doing research for a professor, which included grading hundreds of tests that we had given to elementary and middle school students.  Well, I was trying to pull some of the tests out of my bag the other day, and I basically got the biggest, most painful paper-cut in the history of life.  In describing the pain my little finger was feeling at the time, I could say a couple different things.

Holy frick!  That cut is bad!

  • In this case, I’m mostly saying that the cut itself is deep, painful, etc.  The point is, I am using the adjective, bad, to modify the noun, cut.  So I had a cut.  What kind of cut do I have?  I have a bad cut.

Holy frick!  That hurts so badly!

  • In this case, the adverb, badly, is modifying the verb, hurt.  So the cut hurts.  How much does it hurt?  It hurts badly.

By the way, when people ask how you are, you’re most likely well.  If you’re good, then you are describing what kind of person you are, as in saying you are kind, cool, etc.  “Well” actually describes how you are doing. If it sounds weird to say, “I am well,” then you are also welcome to say, “I am doing well.”  There is absolutely no confusion with the proper way of describing how you are doing instead of just how you are.

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I Really Could Care Less

August 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm (Fun(ny), Rants) (, , )

Ok I realize I’m a nerd, but grammar pet peeve #2: “I could care less.”

An example: Lets pretend that I just found out that someone hacked the Furman Green Guide website and it has been completely destroyed.  My “save the world” friends would probably be very upset, and I would try very hard to sympathize with them (though I’m not sure that would work out too well).  If, however, I were to be completely honest about the situation, I would say, “I couldn’t care less,” meaning I really don’t care.  I would not say, “I could care less,” which actually means that out of all the “caring-ness levels” out there, there are definitely some levels way below my current level.  Basically, it means that I do care.

So next time you don’t care about a particular event, but you do care about sounding more intelligent, simply add an “n’t” at the end of “could.”  It’s really not that hard.

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Where Should the Preposition Be at?

August 7, 2009 at 10:38 am (Fun(ny), Rants) (, )

Ok I realize that this post will forever validate my nerdiness, but whatever.  The truth is I don’t mind I like I love grammar.  I enjoy reading about different grammar rules and discussing proper grammar with people.  No, I don’t correct people out loud when they are talking, nor do I always correct them in my head.  I don’t always use proper grammar, either, mainly because people give me weird looks when I say “With whom did you go to the movie?” instead of “Who did you go to the movie with?”  I also say “like” way too much.

Still, I love grammar.

Therefore, I decided to offer up some insight on a common mistake people make when talking…also one of the most annoying mistakes, in my opinion:

Ending a sentence in a preposition

  • No, I don’t always expect people to end sentences without prepositions.  As I stated previously, it sounds weird to say “With whom did you go to the movie?” instead of “Who did you go to the movie with?” (That being said, the prior of the two is technically correct.)
  • My general rule is this: If you have to rearrange all your words in order to avoid ending in a preposition, don’t worry about it.  If, however, you could end a sentence correctly by simply removing the preposition (basically just shutting up sooner), it is a must.
  • Think about it.  “Where are you?” or “Where are you at?”  “What time are we meeting?” or “What time are we meeting at?” Plus, this takes no extra effort.  All you have to do is close your mouth sooner…just stop talking…and you can sound more intelligent.

Ok and fun fact: The word “preposition” was coined because prepositions typically precede the position of their objects in a prepositional phrase.  Isn’t that so cool?!

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