Everyone on a Facebook Must Read This

I just read an e-mail from E-zine Articles training on ten usage mistakes.

I’m not naming names, but I see many of these everyday in my status update feeds, and it absolutely drives me insane.  I see them constantly in comments to my other blogs, especially the fast food management one.

Here are the ten items:

There/Their/They’re

There is a pronoun, as in “over there!”  Their is possessive, as in “That yellow bungalow is their house.”  And they’re is a contraction meaning “they are.”

A lot/Allot/Alot

This gets messed up quite a bit.

A lot means a great quantity.  It’s informal and I try to avoid it, because around third grade our teachers agreed they would no longer accept it as a description of a great and many items.  So I like to replace it with “much” or “myriad” or something overly dramatic like “overflowing with” or “vast quantities of.”

Allot means to distribute or pass out.  As in, “The Holy Spirit allots spiritual gifts to believers as he sees fit.”  Whether believers use those gifts is another story (and belongs on my other blog).

And alot is not a word, so knock it off!!!

I.e./E.g.

I see these used interchangeably, and they are so not interchangeable.

I.e. is providing a description.  Use it when you mean “that is” or “in other words.”

E.g. means an instance of the generality is coming.  I.e., it means “for example.”  “You should try reading some Christian apologists, e.g. William Lane Craig or James White.”

To/Two/Too

Misuse of these probably annoys me the most.

To denotes a range or an infinitive (the pure form of a verb).  “We’ll be up from dusk to dawn.”

Two is the number 2.  “I have two boxen of doughnuts.”

Too indicates excess or means “in addition to.”  “I have brown hair, too!”

Its/It’s

Most people use “its” exclusively.  Nope!  It’s is a contraction for “it is.”  Its is the possessive of “it.”

You’re/Your

More common on Facebook than the color blue.  I’ll let Dr. Ross Gellar explain it succinctly:

Loose/Lose

This is another seriously common mistake.

Loose is the opposite of “tight.”  Lose is what the Lions normally do when they play football.  (Though I’m crossing my fingers because it’s been darn good so far this season!)

Choose/Chose

Seen this more than once.  Both of these indicate the making of a selection or a choice.  But choose is present tense and chose is past tense.

Effect/Affect

Few people get the difference here.  Both indicate influence or change.  Effect is the noun, and affect is the verb.  “Using violins in your music composition produce a romantic effect.”  “Her decision to break it off affected him worse than we thought.”

Know/No/Now

Confusing these isn’t usually a matter of ignorance, as most of the above are.  It’s normally just a typo.

Know is a verb indicating obtaining or having knowledge.  “Search your feelings, you know it to be true.”

No is a negative reply, used nearly exclusively by my son to answer close-ended questions.  Even when “yes” would be the obvious answer.

Now indicates a present event.  As in, “Now you know the proper way to use these words.  So let’s see some improvement in those statuses!!”

Never Disappoint the Grammar Nazi

I just read the latest two additions to my e-newsletter on grammar from E-zineArticles.com.  I was disappointed for two reasons.

The first one discussed subject-verb agreement.  That’s an important and misunderstood topic in English grammar, so I wasn’t disappointed that they devoted a newsletter to it.  I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t give a common mistake — compound subjects!

People like to write: “Amy, Emma, and Jordan is going to the basketball game.”  The thought process there: “is” must agree with “Jordan,” so we use third person singular.

Nope.

Jordan isn’t the only subject of the sentence.  All three girls, together, are a compound subject!  That sometimes gets missed when the subjects of a sentence appear in a list, and it gets complicated if the predicate precedes the subject — i.e. the writer tries to get clever with diction.

So the correct way to write that would be “Amy, Emma, and Jordan are going to the basketball game.”  Third person plural.

You probably figured that out right way.  That would be because I wrote a super-simple sentence for an example.  There may be other places where it won’t be as obvious, especially if the sentence gets more complicated.

The second disappointment was in the newsletter offering tips on comma placement.  As an example of the power of comma placement, they used the following two sentences:

  • “Go, get him doctors!”
  • “Go get him, doctors!”

The first sentence is a command to get him medical help.  The second points the doctors to the one who needs medical attention.

My disappointment?

I was hoping for the humorous example my sister-in-law always uses:

  • “Let’s eat, Grandma!”
  • “Let’s eat Grandma!”

The power of the comma is far more powerful in that example.  And memorable.  Trust me, that’s a sentence you don’t want misunderstood!  And neither does Grandma.