You’ll probably laugh at this. In the first place I don’t claim to be a grammar police. Sometimes, I just have that deep frown permanently pasted on my face when I see words used wrongly or misspelled or simply added to a sentence without even checking their meaning. When I started blogging here at WordPress more than four years ago, I wrote this post because I got tired of reading some blogs from another site with wrong grammar and sentence construction. We learned even from grade school how to build a simple sentence with the subject and predicate put together as they should be. I also read in one Facebook meme that our generation is lucky because back then, we didn’t rely on Mr. Wiki or Ms. Google. We learned the hard way, didn’t we?
Watch That Grammar
In between learning how Twitter works and experimenting on how to use Twhirl, I’ve read some blogs on USTe.tv posted by some alumni and students. One thing I noticed was, most of them could not even distinguish if they are, an alumni, alumnus, alumna or alumnae. Alumni is usually used as a general term for graduates of an educational institution while alumnus refers to a male graduate. Alumna is a female counterpart of an alumnus and alumnae is the plural of alumna. Some of course post blogs without even checking if there are typo errors or if the sentences are grammatically correct. One could get away with errors while typing but having a sentence mangled just because one is not aware of how to use the proper words is quite disappointing to read.
We often talk about how young people speak and write nowadays. Shortened and abbreviated words in texting did that. They seem to be lost without the help of a spell-checker. As I’ve said before in my previous blog, English seems to look like a mangled language too. Outside of academic and professional contexts, writing is something you make in your own personal style and sometimes you get away with words that would make it easy for your readers to understand. And it’s not about being perfect because nobody is, it’s about respecting your readers and making sure that they don’t have to reread a sentence before they could understand it. Bad sentence construction? Take a look at these phrases and tell me what’s wrong with them:
- do not overact to the things that you have thought have hurted you
This comes from someone who claims to be a writer and a blogger. There is no such word as hurted in any dictionary that I encountered. Hurt is already a past tense. You can say, I was hurt or I am hurting but never use the word hurted. Hurt is a word where the present tense, past tense and past participle are the same.
-do not start or make fights most prolly… Prolly is a web-slang on the internet which means “probably” but you don’t normally use that in sentence construction just to be “in” or something. It still has no exact meaning in the dictionary.
-past failures and disappointments kept hunting me. Wow, hunting, she probably means haunting, right?
-I am worried about the future for I do not know what it will offer to me.. …. Hmm..it should have been, what it will offer me.
-She was angry because she don’t know also…… Remember, don’t is used in plural nouns so it should have been, she doesn’t know also….
-While we are at the main building, it started raining….. It should have been, “while we were at the main building, it started to rain. Past tense and present tense should not be used in one sentence.
-I am just hoping it will be notice…. It should have been , it will be noticed with a d.
I don’t mean to sound like a perfect grammar teacher here but it just makes me cringe to read how certain words are used incorrectly. And here are some commonly mistaken words used:
a. Your and You’re – Your is a possessive pronoun while You’re is a shortened version of You are, so you must say, “you’re welcome”.
b. Loose and Lose – Loose means not firmly fastened or not tight or not precise while lose means removal of a thing or unable to find
c. Me and I – You start your sentence with I, not me.
d. the use of i.e. and e.g. These are Latin phrases,id east means “that is”. It is a way of saying “in other words”. exempli gratia means “for example”.
e. Its and It’s – It’s is short for it is and is a contraction while its is a possessive pronoun.
f. There and Their – There is used as a pronoun or reference to a place while their is a plural possessive adjective.
g. Unless and Not unless – the use of unless is conditional and it means “if not” or “except that” so it can stand on its own without adding not as a prefix.
h. Do and Did – Do is an irregular verb and Did is a past tense of Do. The infinitive here is Do so when you use Did in a sentence, it should always be followed by a present tense. The correct usage would be: I did visit the place instead of I did visited the place. This is a common mistake we make when using the word “did”.
I particularly remember an actress who usually tries hard to answer in English even without understanding the questions asked of her and the conversation goes like this:
Tv host: Congratulations on your forthcoming marriage!
Actress: No, it’s not my fourth, it’s my first…
Can you guess who said that? I rest my case.
(P.S. Watch my grammar, I might have missed something here. WordPress says this is my 1,520th post)