Three and a half irritating phrases

Here’s where you can unload your pedantic language gripes. We’ll have no people here saying “this is a trivial issue”. Of course it is, but so what? I have three today, and perhaps I’ve mentioned one of these before:

1.) The duplicated “is”. It goes like this: “The thing is, is that. . . . ”

2.) “Drop” meaning “was released”. For example, “Demi Lovato’s new single dropped yesterday.”

3.) “Gifted” meaning “gave.” Example: “I gifted her a hand-knit sweater for Christmas.”

I won’t even mention “medal” used as a verb in the Olympics. . . .

Of course I importune you to add your own language beefs below.

532 Comments

  1. Florian
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    How about how the word “grow” is used these days. As in “how to grow your business”, etc. I guess it’s not technically incorrect but it grates on me.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Makes sense if you are running a grow-op here in Washington State.

      • yazikus
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Value added agriculture!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I don’t care for “grow” as a transitive verb except when it comes to crops and house plants (though I suppose we’re stuck with it, ever since the Clinton years, in “grow the economy”).

      • George
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        I think that comes from the term economic growth – which can be negative.

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          Sounds like something the oncologist needs to look into …

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            “Dr. jblilie, please report to the library with your speculum.”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:18 am | Permalink

        Absolutely agree with Ken, the only things you can ‘grow’ as a transitive verb are plants.

        cr

        • Richard
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:21 am | Permalink

          What about a lizard growing a new tail?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:30 am | Permalink

            Not sure if that’s actually transitive, since the tail is a part of the lizard. Sort of a borderline case.

            cr

            • Merilee
              Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

              Or us growing hair or fingernails ( or love handles)? I do detest the grow the business garbage.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I always assume they mean they’re growing a whole heap of weed in their basement.

    • Phil Landerer
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      The days are growing shorter. Love it.

  2. Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Medal as a verb has been around since the 60s, to be fair. Also, what’s ‘language grip’?

    • Frank Bath
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      In Britain those winning a public honour and so given a medal are said to have been ‘gonged’. Given a gong.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      A case of the influenza brought on by poor usage or syntax?

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      I hate it when people verb a noun.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Then you hate Shakespeare.

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:13 am | Permalink

        😀

      • Phil Landerer
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        Think you just did it yourself.

        • nicky
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          I think that was Darwinwins remark was apt, (s)he’s just humouring you.

      • Richard C
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        “Verbing weirds language.”
        – Calvin (to Hobbes)

  3. Paul Monne
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Incorrect use of “anymore”. As in “we should go to the movies anymore”, or “it’s too hot outside in the summer anymore”. Fortunately, it is my wife that cringes with that particular faux pas, and I seem to be gifted with the ability to find a new way to use the word incorrectly at least once a week anymore.

    Peace,

    Paul

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      I recall a discussion about “anymore” as a synonym for “nowadays” in a usage guide (put out by Harper’s, IIRC) a couple decades ago. The consensus seemed to be it was a lost cause even then, and it’s gotten only worse since.

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        Linguists refer to this usage as the “positive anymore.” It’s not incorrect. It’s a regionalism. The usage is common in much of the Midwest and derives from Scots-Irish syntax.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I grew up hearing it in Ohio. I’ll use it myself when striking a casual, regional tone, but not in formal writing.

  4. Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Ending sentences with “so”. As in, I’m too lazy to complete this sentence and will let you draw the conclusion I’m not willing to say out loud.

    • hughvane
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      How about starting a sentence with ‘So’? “So, there I was, out for m daily walk when ….”

      • Phil Garnock-Jones
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I think that affectation started in academia. People frequently start the answer to a question with “So …”. But people also start seminars and lectures with “So …”.

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        I think I’m guilty of this, perhaps to an excessive degree, usually when I’m explaining: other standard sentence starters for me include “okay…”, “well…”, “alright…”, the all purpose “um…”, as well as various combinations of the above on special occasions. Perhaps I should pay more attention to this when I speak!

        • nicky
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          Well, I guess we are all guilty of that, so?

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted October 21, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          When editing speech for broadcast, particularly impromptu speech such as an interview, the sound engineers have a phase they call “de-umming,” when those “I’m thinking” sounds are taken out. They can easily be a quarter of the tape.

  5. Joseph McClain
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I dislike “reach out” as a synonym of “contact.” I have had to reach out to people because I have done something wrong or there was a misunderstanding. That use seems to be proper in fence-mending situations and is eroded by the unfortunate new usage.

    • alexander
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      You can always say: Sorry, I’m ticklish…

    • KD33
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Business jargon … “Thanks for reaching out so we could hit the ground running and think outside the box to develop a visionary, game-changing, and disruptive paradigm shift!”

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Well-played! 🙂

      • Kevin
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        It would be even better with “proactively” stuck in there somewhere

        • Merilee
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          and some form of ramping-up…

          • Richard
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:19 am | Permalink

            With your weight on your front foot so that you can reach the low-hanging fruit…

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        You forgot “going forward”. 😉

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      I dislike “contact” used as a verb.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I was also going to mention “reaching out.” For me it always conjures up a mental image of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:21 am | Permalink

        Absolutely agree with that too.

        “We reached out to the company but they refused to comment”. No you didn’t bloody reach out, you just *asked* them for a comment. “Reach out” means something altogether more elaborate.

        cr

        • Phil Landerer
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

          Totally agree. First heard this used when I got into business in the 1970’s. Back then, it was mostly used to ask for assistance or help with something, not just to talk to them or make contact.

      • nicky
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        I can’t think of that image without seeing the FSM anymore.

        • Merilee
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          Me, neither😻

  6. mirandaga
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m probably alone on this one, but I hate the use of “Mirandize” as a verb, if for no other reason that my last name is Miranda. I’m aware that I have the right to remain silent about this, but I’ve chosen not to.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Cop-speak. I’m afraid it’s here to stay, unless SCOTUS re-construes the Fifth Amendment’s self-incrimination clause. (And even that won’t get rid of cop-constructions like “The suspected entered the vehicle, yellow in color, and exited the premises.”) 🙂

    • hughvane
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      The one that left me speechless was “funeralized”, after the narrator had told us that the deceased had been “casked”.
      [In context, it was an instructional video about eco funerals.]

      • mirandaga
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        My favorite death-related gobbledygook was when my mother was dying in Providence Hospital in Seattle and they were talking about transferring her to hospice because they couldn’t do anything more for her–something Mom wanted to avoid. The hospital administrator said they thought they could indeed avoid this because they were hoping for “a heavenly discharge.” My four brothers and I told Mom this, knowing it would appeal to her Irish sense of humor. She didn’t disappoint us: “Heavenly discharge?” she said. “Holy shit!”

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          Has anyone but an undertaker ever referred to “the bereaved”?

          “Heavenly discharge” sounds like something that happens to adolescent androids while dreaming of the electric angels.

        • nwalsh
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          I think I would have likes your mom.

  7. Trevor H
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to The West Wing: ‘very unique’

    The old ‘should of’ instead of ‘should have’

    The grocer’s comma: Carrot’s, orange’s, banana’s

    • Trevor H
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      And some of modern office jargon:

      ‘Let’s park this discussion’, or maybe ‘take this offline’, and the horror verb ‘actioning’ and ‘actioned’

      • ladyatheist
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Objecting to office jargon is an actionable offense!

        • Nobody Special
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          The following was an exchange between me and a young and over-eager marketing manager at a business I worked for, circa 1990;
          M.M. “We’ll have to put it out there, run it up a flagpole and see who salutes. You know what I’m saying, we’ve got to turn on the lights and see who blinks.”
          Me. “You mean, show it to potential customers?”
          M.M. “To coin a phrase, yes”
          Me. “That isn’t coining a phrase.”
          M.M. “Anyway, moving on….”

          • merilee
            Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

            aarrgghh!

          • Richard
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:34 am | Permalink

            For a while management used “leverage” as a verb (I don’t know if that one is still in fashion). It seemed to mean something like “re-use” or “take advantage of”.

            Typical manager’s email: Can we leverage X to do Y?

            My typical reply: I don’t know, what does “leverage” mean here? Other times you have used it you have meant A, B or C – what does it mean now?

            Oddly, I never got any reply…

      • Phil Landerer
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

        I’d like to see your deliverables!

    • Laurance
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Comma? Not apostrophe? (I cringe when I see a plural spelled like a singular possessive.)

      • Trevor H
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Brain-fart there – meant grocers’ apostrophe…

        • Kevin
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          From your colon, I suppose.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Grocer’ comma. Had to look that up. Also called Grocers’ apostrophe.

      I was going to complain of plural and possessive misuse, and found with your comment that it has a name. It makes me crazy and now I’m now seeing it on public signs and notices.

      Pretty soon it will be accepted by Oxford.

    • Michieux
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, the “should of” is one that gives me the irrits.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Most things are unique but things that differ in many ways are very unique.

      I think I’ve completely destroyed this one.

      • Trevor H
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        All too often it’s used to mean ‘very rare’, that’s my gripe

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      “Should of” is a subliterate barbarism. If you’re going with slang, use “shoulda.” There’s no point to “should of”; it sounds the same as “should’ve.”

  8. Bruce J. Cochrane
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    “Awesome”, as in anything less than perhaps the eruption of Mount St. Helen’s.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Completely devalued at this point!

    • Phil Landerer
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      “Awesome” is the Millennial “boss” and “rad” (Gen-X), or “groovy” (Boomer)

      • nicky
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        The Golden Oldies ‘Awesome’ and ‘cool’ are still very popular with the kiddies here, as is ‘duh’. Heven’t heard a ‘rad’ here yet, maybe just in the US?

  9. Geoff Toscano
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Comprise plus ‘of’ is one of my hates. Comprise already means, inter alia, consists of so ‘comprises of’ grates.

    Use of ‘less’ when referring to numerical description rather than ‘fewer’.

    The American insistence on turning the very obvious phrase ‘couldn’t care less’ into the meaningless ‘could care less’. Ugh!

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Also, the parts comprise the whole; the whole does not comprise the parts.

    • Rita
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      I saw this cartoon the other day: Trump is saying “There should be less immigrants” and Pence leans over him, saying “You mean fewer”, and Trump says, “Shhh! Don’t say it out loud yet!”

    • Dragon
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      I recall my response to a friend who said ‘could care less’ a while ago. I said ‘I could care less, but not by much.’ (emphasis on the ‘could’) They looked very confused. I finished with ‘Only by those things where I couldn’t care less.’ That person stopped using the wrong phrase. At least around me.

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        The truth is that in America at least, “I could care less” is an idiom. It’s fine. No one misunderstands it, because “I could care less” and “I couldn’t care less” have come to mean the same thing. Ostensibly sarcastic in its origin, “I could care less” is now taken to mean the opposite of what it says–like “Tell me about it,” which means “*Don’t* tell me about it [because I already know].”

        As Michael Quinion says in World Wide Words, “There’s a close link between the stress pattern of ‘I could care less’ and the kind that appears in certain sarcastic or self-deprecatory phrases that are associated with the Yiddish heritage and (especially) New York Jewish speech. Perhaps the best known is ‘I should be so lucky!’ in which the real sense is often “’I have no hope of being so lucky,’ a closely similar stress pattern with the same sarcastic inversion of meaning.”

        Those who condemn it for being illogical are missing the point. It’s an idiom, after all, and idioms (like “near miss,” for example) are inherently illogical. As John McIntyre writes in the Baltimore Sun, “Idioms, in any language, convey meanings that cannot be determined from the literal sense of the words. So you can object to an idiom and shun it because you find it trite or common or inappropriate for the tone or subject or audience. But you don’t get to kvetch about it for being illogical.”

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          I grew up years ago in the Catskills, in the heart of the Borcht Belt. I never heard anyone say “I couldn’t career less”.
          It’s a witty joke. I could care less if I wanted to but I don’t. Yiddish humor.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Personally, I could give a shit if anyone objects to “I could care less.”

          • Phil Landerer
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

            I could give a rats ass if you gave a shit. Or even if you take a shit. LOL

            • Merilee
              Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

              Riddle me this: why do people “take” a s**t or a p**s? And whence do they take thrm?

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:18 am | Permalink

                Taking *a* p**s is, of course, a totally different meaning from taking *the* p**s…

                cr

              • Merilee
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

                Ça va sans dire😬

              • Kevin
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

                Taking in the sense of ‘allowing’ or ‘permitting’ oneself to micturate.
                French and Italians ‘do’ or ‘make’ a pipi.

                Being pissed in the U.S. (annoyed) is different from being pissed in the UK (drunk).

                There is also ‘taking the Mickey’ or the posher ‘taking the Michael’.

              • Merilee
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

                Lol – never heard Taking the Michael

              • nicky
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

                I’m speculating that it is short for “I’m taking/ going to take some time off for a pee, etc.”. In the context I’ve heard it most with’leak’.
                Note, it does not bother me in the least.

              • Merilee
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

                It doesn’t offend me at all; it just suddenly struck me as an odd construction,

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                I delivered a sailboat to the Virgin Islands with a crew of Belgian guys once. They had misconstrued an English-language idiom and used to say “I’ve got to pee like a horse race.”

                After a couple weeks on the boat together, I gave up and started saying it their way, and ended up bringing it back stateside with me. Now all my friends and family, even my in-laws, have picked it up and say “pee like a horse race.”

              • Merilee
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

                Lol

  10. Barry Lyons
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    “Where do you work at?”

    The “at” isn’t necessary.

    • RGT
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      “A preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with.”
      ― Winston S. Churchill

      • Barry Lyons
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that’s a classic line, but in my example, “Where do you work?” conveys the question just fine. The “at” (where the person shows up to work) is obviously implied, or so it seems to me.

        • Phil Landerer
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:07 am | Permalink

          When someone asks me, “Where do you work at?” I try to correct them by saying, “You should have said, ‘Where do you work at, asshole?'”

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        There is some stuff up with which I shall not put! So there! 🙂

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but in English, expressions such as “put up”, “shut up” are called verb-particle formations, and the prepositions are acting grammatically as verb auxiliaries, not as prepositions. So a sentence like, “I want you to shut up.” is perfectly acceptable English.

          The so-called prohibition against ending a sentence with a preposition is a holdover from Latin. Most of the problems people have with English grammar is that it was first described in terms of Latin rather than in its native Germanic form.

          The verb-particle formation is a type of compound word that goes against the usual rules for forming compounds. I first ran up against this when I was doing a paper on compound word formation while working towards my masters’ degree in Linguistics. I’ll have to look into whether Finnish or Estonian have verb-particle constructions since they use cases instead of prepositions. Are there any Finnish or Estonian speakers out there who want to weigh in on this? How would you say “shut up” and how does it literally translate into English?

          • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

            I think the construction comes German, where it is quite common.

          • Kevin
            Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

            verb-particle formations: I think that is what I am familiar with as phrasal verbs.
            They cause a lot of trouble for students learning English. Fairly rare in French and Italian.

        • Phil Landerer
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:09 am | Permalink

          Funny, you’ve captured the Pennsylvania Amish grammar perfectly. They say things like, “Hurry up down!” when they are yelling to someone upstairs. Also, “Turn offen the light” is one of my faves.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        I thought Sir Winston said the prohibition on terminal prepositions is “a rule up with which I will put”? 🙂

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          It wasn’t a saying of Churchill’s. That’s an apocryphal notion.

    • Gareth Price
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      My sister-in-law used to ask “Where do you work to?”. I would jokingly tell her it should be “To where do you work?”.

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like a conflation of ‘where do you work?’ and ‘what are you working at?’ Should we consider it ‘two for the price of one’ or a ‘deed of grammatical barbarism’?

  11. Randy schenck
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Irregardless. Once you have decided you are without regard what is this IR stuff. You must have regard for made up words.

  12. KD33
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Respect the Oxford comma!

    • gscott
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      As in the classic: “The highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:29 am | Permalink

        One thing that irritates me is when people create contrived examples to mock the omission of the Oxford comma.

        Your example is not at all ambiguous, because it is obvious that Nelson Mandela was not an 800-yesr old demigod. I’d bet against him being a dildo collector too.

        If there really is an ambiguity that is impossible to resolve in the context, you should restructure the sentence to avoid the problem altogether. After all, if you say a sentence out loud, the inclusion or omission of the Oxford comma is impossible to tell.

        • gscott
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

          Are you implying that I contrived this example myself? It’s from a Times of London TV listing describing a documentary about Peter Ustinov’s travels:
          “By train, plane and sedan chair, Peter Ustinov retraces a journey made by Mark Twain a century ago. The highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”

          • Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            So when you read it, did you honestly believe it was saying Nelson Mandela was an 800 years old demigod or that the 800 year old demigod was a dildo collector? Were you genuinely confused by the lack of Oxford comma?

            The example is definitely contrived but I don’t believe it was you who contrived it because your use of the phrase “Times of London” suggests you are not a native of the UK and would therefore have no reason to be reading the TV listings in it.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

          “After all, if you say a sentence out loud, the inclusion or omission of the Oxford comma is impossible to tell.”

          I disagree. I hear a distinct difference.

          • Posted October 20, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

            How?

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 22, 2017 at 12:47 am | Permalink

              Experimenting with the Nelson Mandela sentence above (with and without the OC), my voice seems to drop slightly after the Oxford comma.

              • Posted October 22, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                So basically, you are saying it comes down to a barely noticeable inflection, something that could easily be missed or added/omitted by the speaker accidentally in normal speech.

              • Posted October 22, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

                In any case, inflection is not primarily an indicating purpose of punctuation. The presence of the serial comma need not necessarily affect how a sentence is spoken.

              • Diane G.
                Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:15 am | Permalink

                @ Jeremy–I’m saying what I said. To me there’s a difference, one that I usually think I hear in other people’s speech as well.

                But I don’t know why you’re using such an accusatory tone. You probably can’t browbeat me into not liking the Oxford comma any more than I can change your mind on the subject. I generally don’t like to contribute to these threads because it becomes very obvious, very quickly that one person’s peeve is another’s I-see-nothing-wrong-with-that. All through this comment section you will find variations on that theme.

                If we can’t be good-humored about such ultimately trivial matters, we’re really taking ourselves too seriously.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 23, 2017 at 3:30 am | Permalink

                Hi Diane

                I’m with you on this one. One of the functions of a comma, IMO, at least in quoted speech, is to indicate pauses by the speaker.

                cr

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:44 am | Permalink

      It’s not exactly a peeve, but it makes it symmetric, so I like it better with than without.

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      Whether to use the serial (or Oxford) comma is a matter of style, one of little consequence to most people except for academics, editors, and publishing writers.

      In the UK it’s seldom used, and I understand it’s not taught in the schools. In the US, the serial comma is strongly recommended by English professors, publishing writers, the editors of mainstream newspapers and periodicals, those who write composition textbooks, and by usage experts, because its consistent use tends to prevent potential confusion, and in those cases where the writer’s meaning may be clear without it, it does not hinder communication.

      It’s not a style choice for college undergraduates and graduate students in the US, however, because both MLA Style and APA Style stipulate its use. According to the 6th edition of the APA manual, commas are to be used “between elements (including before and and or) in a series of three or more items” (p. 88). The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing says, “Use commas to separate words, phrases, and clauses in a series.” And college writing handbooks in the U.S., like Diana Hacker’s BEDFORD HANDBOOK, which sets the standard, all advocate use of the serial comma.

      “The Chicago Manual of Style” (2010) also recommends using the serial comma because “it prevents ambiguity”: If the last element consists of a pair joined by and, the pair should still be preceded by a serial comma and the first and. “The meal consisted of soup, salad, and macaroni and cheese.” “John was working, Jean was resting, and Alan was running errands and furnishing food.”

      The linguist Richard Nordquist writes, “Most U.S. style guides say, ‘Use it–always.'”

      The argument for its consistent use has merit partly because the serial comma often provides added precision, and in those instances when it may seem unnecessary it doesn’t hinder comprehension. (Though some odd exceptions may be crafted by contrarians.) Further, writers in the habit of neglecting the serial comma will often unthinkingly leave it out when its use would provide beneficial clarity and when its absence introduces confusion.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        I quite agree with all that.

        I’d say its absence is of little consequence to most people… except on the odd occasion when its absence introduces ambiguity and confusion, which its presence would have clarified. And such occasions do crop up from time to time.

        cr

  13. Stephen Barnard
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I have two:

    1. “Offering a “free gift”.

    2. Saying, “Me, myself, personally …”.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      The recipient of a gift replying with, “you didn’t need to do that!”

      Well, yes, that’s pretty much the definition of a gift, isn’t it?

    • hughvane
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      When it should have been “I, myself, personally” … to which we add “all three of us”.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      “Limited Lifetime Warranty.”

  14. Barry Lyons
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Another:

    I can’t stand seeing “gate” appended to every goddamn scandal that comes along. (Somewhere online there’s a bit with two British comics who refer to “Watergate-gate”.)

    • Joseph McClain
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I always wanted to read about a scandal involving sculduggery in harness racing: Gaitgate.

      • Curt Nelson
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        My brother thinks the ultimate store would be called MartMart.

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

          That is so two-dimensional! I’m going for Mart3!

          • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            html fail. Let’s see if this works …

            Mart3

            • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

              Nope. (Mart)cubed

              • Curt Nelson
                Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

                This brings us to Martplex (mart to the google power), which actually sounds reasonable.

              • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

                Good one.

        • Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

          Only if you are in the market for marts.

          I for one often pass by garage sales because I am not usually in the market for a garage.

    • davidintoronto
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Also – assuming the “ic” suffix in “alcoholic” denotes the addiction component, wouldn’t it be “work-ic” or “chocolate-ic”? But customarily, most of “alcohol” gets imported into the new word.

      😉

    • David Coxill
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      There is also one called Gate gate ,also known as pleb gate .
      Makes you wish the Democrats had used a Holiday Inn or a Howard Johnson .

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      The scandal regarding the New England Patriots’ use of under-inflated footballs was known as “Inflate-gate” (although I preferred the more-timely “Ballghazi”).

    • Phil Landerer
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Good thing the Watergate burglars didn’t break into a factory owned by Acme Dildoes

      • Kevin
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        Can’t see anything wrong with having Acme in the name!

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Mitchell and Webb.

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      The two comics are David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Here you go!

      • Posted October 20, 2017 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        Oops, I didn’t realise that someone beat me to posting a link to this; sorry!

  15. Patrick Clark
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Somebody is going to “try and do” something…how about “try to do”…

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Really, “try and” is fine–just colloquial (and idiomatic) speech. What’s more, as H.W. Fowler explained long ago, there is a subtle difference between “try to” and “try and”: “the latter has a shade of meaning that justifies its existence; in exhortations it implies encouragement–the effort will succeed; in promises it implies assurance–the effort shall succeed. It is an idiom that should be not discountenanced.”

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        A Hispanic lady told me something similar about “try” in Spanish. That it implied you were *going* to do something, not just try.

        • Geoff Toscano
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          I like the way Spanish is very literal in its use of verbs. So saying ‘I can’ in English is one thing, but in Spanish distinguishes ‘poder’ (to be physically able), with ‘permitir’ which, rather obviously, simply means to allow.

          • Phil Garnock-Jones
            Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            That’s one of my gripes, when people say can when they mean may.
            Me, aged 8: “Can I play outside please?”
            My Mum: “Yes you can, but you may not.”

            • Phil Garnock-Jones
              Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

              No, actually I wrote that too quickly, that’s not my gripe at all. It’s when people say may when they mean might: “It may rain today”. I know it’s probably grammatically OK, but it still annoys me.

              • Nobody Special
                Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

                “It’s raining outside.”
                I also have an allergy to “round circle.”

              • nicky
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

                A round cicle is just a pleonasm, a redundant attribute, like a false prophet 😆 (not to mention a ‘lying Mr Trump’)

        • Richard
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:41 am | Permalink

          Do or do not. There is no try.

      • ladyatheist
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Also, the latter is easier to say.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      “Try and” is found more frequently in British writing. (Hitch-22 is full of it.) As a Yank, I prefer “try to,” except in idiomatic expressions like “try and make me.”

  16. Craw
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    “Racist” as a synonym for “person”.

  17. Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    knowledgeable

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Seems that this means (applied to a person) that the person has knowledge, usually of a specific domain.

      Can you suggest an alternate usage? (I’m genuinely curious.)

      Here’s what my first try on an online thesaurus produced:

      – – – – – –

      Synonyms for knowledgeable
      adj aware, educated

      appreciative
      brilliant
      conscious
      conversant
      discerning
      experienced
      informed
      insightful
      intelligent
      learned
      perceptive
      sensible

      smart
      sophisticated
      well-informed
      well-rounded
      wise
      abreast
      acquainted
      alert
      apprised
      au courant
      au fait
      brainy

      bright
      clever
      cognizant
      erudite
      familiar
      in the know
      knowing
      lettered
      omniscient
      plugged in
      posted
      prescient

      privy
      quick-witted
      sagacious
      sage
      savvy
      scholarly
      sharp
      sophic
      tuned-in
      understanding
      versed
      with-it

      I don’t find these to be an improvement. At least for how I typically see the word used.

      Cognizant comes closest and I sometimes use that adjective.

      None of these captures, in my opinion, “in possession of specific knowledge.” As in: He is knowledgeable in methods of stabilizing biocompatible polymers against thermal cycling.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        expertified

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:28 am | Permalink

        I dislike “alternate” being used to mean “alternative”. “Alternate” means every second one.

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          But sadly it is developing an alternative meaning in common parlance…

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          That’s one of Jerry’s pet peeves, too. IMO there’s an alternate (ahem) pronunciation that separates the two. The “every second one” form has a long second a; in the alternative sense the second a is a schwa.

          • Posted October 20, 2017 at 2:35 am | Permalink

            IMO the two forms you describe are the noun and verb pronunciations. Both refer to every second one.

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 20, 2017 at 3:48 am | Permalink

              The plot thickens. 🙂 I actually had to look up alternate as a noun, where I had an ‘oh, duh’ moment: “someone who is chosen to take another person’s place if that person is not able to be present or to do a required job.” (Not, IMO, the same as “every second one” but I won’t quibble.)

              In considering it further I’m not coming up with a good example of using the schwa pronunciation as a verb, only as an adverb.

  18. Michael Clarke
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    The use of “loose” when “lose” is meant.

    • scote
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      That seems to be different category, typo rather than deliberate use of a word in nonstandard use. (Of course I say that having made the typo a few times, and having spell check approve since “loose” is a real word.)

  19. BobTerrace
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Subscribe

    (No, that is not one of those.)

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I’d rather use “plead” or “pled” than “pleaded”. Grammarians will tell you pleaded is the correct use and I object. It’s awkward both on the page and in conversation.

      • Kiwi Dave
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Obviously, tastes vary; past tense ‘pled’ and ‘plead’ sound awkward to me, but ‘pleaded’ sounds right.

        One irritating usage, though clearly a lost cause, is ‘decimate’ meaning ‘damage’, eg, ‘My car was decimated in a collision last night.’

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          We are intrepid swimmers against the tide 🙂

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          Of course, in accordance with Muphry’s law, my pedantic objection is itself expressed inaccurately – the pedantic objection rather than the popular usage is the lost cause.

          • Jonathan Wallace
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

            “…in accordance with Muphry’s law”

            an instance of Murphy’s law in operation, I believe. 🙂

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          My understanding is “decimate” originally meant “to reduce by one-tenth.” (It’s cognate with “decimal.”) That meaning seems to have gone out of fashion with Roman military discipline. 🙂

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:37 am | Permalink

            I think most people get it wrong-way-round (at least those who know what ‘deci’ means) and assume it means ‘reduce TO one-tenth’.

            cr

  20. Dick Veldkamp
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Wy not something positive for a change: I am delighted that logical punctuation is making headway (at least according to Pinker)! So no more illogical (apparently preferred by printers):

    “The old system was terrible,” she said.

    but instead:

    “The new system is great!”, he agreed.

    Which is as it should be.

    • Ned
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      The influence of computer programming, maybe.

  21. Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    The word ‘methodology’ used as a synonym for ‘method’

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Or “utilized” for “used”.

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Needlessly complicated words should be avoided, generally.

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • Mark Ayling
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        “Obligated” instead of “obliged”. It’s just unnecessary.

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      By that, people shouldn’t people who study methods be methodists, not methodologists?

      • Merilee
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Oh, and price point, and colorways😿
        What’s wrong with price and colors??

  22. Historian
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Here are some Trumpisms.

    Trump: “Believe Me.”
    Translation: “What I’ve said is a total lie.”

    Trump: “People say.”
    Translation: “Voices in my head told me.

    Trump: “We’ll see what happens.”
    Translation: “I haven’t the foggiest idea of what I will do.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      “Nobody knows” = “I just found out that …”

      (“Nobody knows Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.”)

      • ladyatheist
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Nobody knows Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. … and it’s an island in the middle of a lot of water (not a place in the Bronx)

      • Kevin
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Nobody knows where North Korea is, but Sarah told me you can see it from Alaska.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Trump: “We’re looking into that.”
      Translation: “Nobody cares. Shut up.”

  23. Laurance
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    No, NO, N.O.!!!!!

    It does NOT *beg* the question. It *raises* the question.

    The worst variation of this one I ever saw was, “the question begs,…”.

    AAACCKKKK!!!!!

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      But, but, some statements can beg the question. Most people use the phrase incorrectly, of course.

      • Laurance
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Yes indeed! Some statements can beg the question. I heard Hitch say, “That’s begging the question” on a Youtube video, referring to a statement in which the premise assumed the conclusion. I’m so used to hearing “beg the question” misused that I flinched. It’s so odd now to hear it used correctly.

        • Kevin
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          I think the second usage (meaning ‘raises the question’) may have come from confusion with the phrase ‘beggar understanding’ or ‘beggar belief’. It is common enough to be given in some dictionaries, implying that it is becoming correct usage.

  24. Icarus
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I hereby banish the phrase ” Have a good one ” from the English lexicon .

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      When someone says that, I ask “One what?” I love the perplexed look I get.

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        I first heard that phrase in Pittsburgh c. 2001-2003. I got used to it, as an (at the time) inane regionalism. My mother came to visit and she had encountered it on the bus from the airport or something and asked that very question to me. It *is* weird to encounter, but then most idioms are.

  25. p. puk
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s “different from,” people. Not different to or different than or different as.

    It’s same as. Not different as.
    It’s greater than. Not different than.
    It’s similar to. Not different to.

    ** yells at cloud to keep off his lawn **

    • KD33
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      I think “different than” is more common and accepted in the U.S., vs. Britain. Stolen from a grammar site:

      “When what follows is a clause, than can be the more elegant choice: My grandmother looks different than I remember. From works best when what follows is a noun or noun phrase: My grandmother looks different from that old photograph of her.”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:41 am | Permalink

        It would have to be ‘different from what I remember’ which is really clumsy. But that’s really the exception, I agree with p.puk that ‘different from’ is usually the correct usage.

        cr

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Most points raised higher up in this thread leave me indifferent or even slightly amused. The few you mention here (different than -eeuw!) irk me somewhat, it slightly dents my equanimity, one could say. It grates the spine. Killing off the little bit of (dare I say mathematical?) clarity in language.

  26. Gordon
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    From yesterday’s paper: “fraudulence” which I assume meant fraud.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      And that would make flatulence flat.

      • nicky
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        😆😆😆

  27. John Conoboy
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    How about the latest in the political world? When they try to justify some skullduggery by implying that it was not really illegal or unethical or immoral, but they understand that it has “bad optics.”

  28. Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Using “myself” instead of “me.”

    This has become so common that most people don’t even realize that it’s wrong. For example, “This bill was drafted by Senator X and myself.”

    It’s just one of the errors in the sentence I hear almost every day on the commuter train when it rolls into the final station …..

    “On behalf of myself and the rest of the crew I want to thank you for riding with us today.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      ‘Myself’ is the foxhole of ignorance where cowards take refuge because they were taught that ‘me’ is vulgar and ‘I’ is egotistical.

      — Red Smith

      • David Coxill
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Well which is correct ?.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          “I” for subjects, “me” for objects, and “myself” used reflexively or for emphasis (“I feed myself” or “I, myself, wouldn’t go”).

          • Merilee
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

            But NEVER myself and he/him went…

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 20, 2017 at 3:01 am | Permalink

            I think “On behalf of myself” is actually correct. It’s being used reflexively there. “On behalf of me” just sounds wrong.

            cr

            • Merilee
              Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

              But “On behalf of Joe Blow and me…” sounds right.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

                Umm. “On behalf of [Joe Blow and me]” – interpreted that way – sounds okay. Probably because the group of ‘Joe Blow and me’ is not synonymous with ‘me’.

                But “On behalf of … me” just sounds wrong to me, as I said. I think the reflexive ‘myself’ should be used.

                So – since it could be taken either way – I guess it’s a borderline case. In which case I suppose the principle of charity would suggest that either should be accepted.

                cr

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Yes, I was going to propose that one. It’s very annoying.

      • David Coxill
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Oh in that case i shall start using it.

  29. Panacea Liquidgrace
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Seconded. When told “have a good one,” I want to reply “have a good what?”

    What’s so problematic about “have a good day” or “have a good evening”? It’s not like they take longer to say.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      🙂

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Once when a relative who hadn’t seen me in a while said, “My, how you’ve grown!” I looked at her with what I hoped was a worried expression and said, “Grown what?”

  30. Curt Nelson
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Have a good rest of your day!

    • Craw
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Seems so stingy, even churlish, doesn’t it? They could wish us more than just a day. Why not rest of your week, or life? That takes no more effort to say. Or, for the faithful, why not a good eternity?

    • tony walters
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Have a blessed day!

  31. Panacea Liquidgrace
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    When told “have a good one,” I want to reply “have a good what?”

    What’s so problematic about “have a good day” or “have a good evening”? It’s not like they take longer to say.

  32. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    “Gifted” sucks. But I kinda like “re-gifted,” especially when used humorously (“He re-gifted the dirty sock to his kid brother”), since it fills a specific need (which ought to be the ultimate test for any neologism).

    I don’t mind the “is, is” construction, but I know it drives some people up a wall, so avoid it. For some reason, these same people don’t seem to mind other verb-comma-verb constructions, as long as the second verb is in a different tense or person (as in “The question is, are we still planning to go” or “The issue is, was he here when it happened”).

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      I think Re-gifted is what “gifted” started. I heard re-gifted long before “gifted”. I, too, like re-gifted.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      “Gift” is a standard verb long in use.

      According to the OED, the use of “gift” to mean “to make a present of” (as distinct from “give”) dates to the early 1600s.



      I have to say it puzzles me why some people “hate” the use of “gift” so much. Not only has its useful function as a verb been established for hundreds of years, but such verbing of nouns is just the way so many nouns that we use every day have quite naturally come into use. Consider “thunder,” “rain,” “bottle,” “oil,” “fog,” “snow,” “cloud,” “highlight,” “email,” “trend,” “reference,” “critique,” “dog,” “host,” “book,” “access,” “parent,” “ram,” “discipline,” “house,” “phone,” “mail,” “salt,” “exit,” “divorce,” “storm,” “table, “shoulder,” “showcase,” and so many similar abominations.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        “Gift” as a verb may have a long history, but it’s more recently re-entered American usage (primarily among the set that thinks it sounds more elegant than “give” when soliciting donations). As such, it’s naught but a vogue word that’s outlived any usefulness it once may have had.

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          Its popularity surely attests to its usefulness. It does provide a connotation that “give” does not.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

            Can you gift us with an example of it adding useful connotation? Because when I hear it, the connotation is usually one of bogus elegance, as in “When you gift the foundation in an amount over $500, you’ll receive this stylish key chain embossed with our insignia.”

            I don’t think popularity attests to usefulness. The speech and writing of many of our fellow anglophones is riddled with useless pleonasm and periphrasis.

            • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

              As I’ve noted, according to the OED, the use of “gift” to mean “to make a present of” (as distinct from the broader “give”) dates to the early 1600s.

 That’s the useful connotation.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      I’m happy to see some defenders of the ‘double is’ construction, but I feel the need to be pedantic and point out that the examples you offer up as acceptable aren’t true cases. In fact, they’re ‘single is’ constructions where the following clause has been turned into a question, which means the copula — in whatever form — has been fronted.

      (1) The issue is, he was here when it happened.

      So whoever these people are, it isn’t really about tense or person for them, and they should (in theory) be just as happy with something like the following:

      (2) The question is, is he still planning to go?

      Where a single ‘is’ should sound pretty bad.

      (3) *The question is he still planning to go?

      A real test (of their intuitions, and yours) would be to turn your examples into real ‘double is’ sentences.

      (4) The question is, is, are we still planning to go?

      Or, better yet, take my (2) and turn it into a true ‘double is’ sentence, creating a pseudo ‘triple is’ construction!

      (5) The question is, is, is he still planning to go?

      :-O

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:56 am | Permalink

        “The problem is, [rest of sentence]” or “The problem is that [rest of sentence]”. The only exception is [rest of sentence] is a question.

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:37 am | Permalink

        I have a good friend who uses your (4) and even (5) regularly. The double “is” has become the basic verb for her. It drives me nuts.

  33. alexandra Moffat
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    “I’m good” as an answer for being offered
    something.” Thank you, no” or “yes please”.

    Also as an answer for “how are you”? .
    “I’m fine” or “very well, thank you” or “awful”
    sounds better to me…

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, it annoys me that “good” has replaced “well” or “fine” in answer to “how are you?”.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        How about “I’m very good”? 😉

        Though sometimes, if I’m not concentrating and I don’t catch myself in time, I take it too literally and start to tell them all my problems.

        cr

  34. alexandra Moffat
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    and of course the constant misuse of I and me.

    I is a subject and me an object

    • Charles
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      Strongly agree!

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      That annoys you and I both! Sorry: you and ME both!

  35. Curt Nelson
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    People ordering food in a restaurant who say they’ll “do” the food — I’ll do the chicken.

    One doesn’t do food (one does drugs).

    • KD33
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Re the food: look up the word “sploshing.”

  36. E.A. Blair
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I despise the phrase “reason why” when reason is a noun, not a verb. There is no reason to stick “why” in a sentence like “The reason he did that was…”. I blame people misreading Tennyson, but he used “reason” as a verb, not a noun, so it was okay, but grammar dunces don’t realize the reason he did that.

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:41 am | Permalink

      Thank you!

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      I think ‘why’ adds a bit. ‘The reason he did’ versus ‘the reason why he did’, the latter appears to imply that prima facie the motive is totally incomprehensible. Why for dog’s sake would he do that?

      [slightly off topic: cats have -of course- a good answer: “Yes the dog is right, I did it, and do you want to know why I did it? Because screw you, that’s why.”]

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        The estimable Jonathon Owen offers an astute take on this one.

        “There’s a long-running debate over whether the construction reason why is acceptable. Critics generally argue that why essentially means reason, so saying reason why is like saying reason twice. Saying something twice is redundant, and redundancy is bad; ergo, reason why is bad. This is really a rather bizarre argument. Reason is a noun; why is usually an interrogative adverb. They do cover some of the same semantic space, but not the same syntactic space. Does this really make the construction redundant? Defendants generally admit that it’s redundant, but in a harmless way. But rebutting the critics by calling it “not ungrammatical” or saying that “redundancy is not inherently bad” is a pretty weak defense. However, that defense can be strengthened with the addition of something that has been missing from the discussion: an examination of the syntactic role of why in such constructions.”

        More: http://www.arrantpedantry.com/2013/05/08/the-reason-why-this-is-correct/

  37. Rita
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    The over-use of “disrespect” as a verb.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Any use of “disrespect” as a verb.

      It is a noun.

      • Wunold
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        There’s no noun that can’t be verbed. 😉

        • Kevin
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          Can the noun ‘verb’ be verbed?
          If so can the verb ‘verb’ be nouned?
          If so then the verb ‘noun’ can also be nouned.
          Another thing about English which makes it difficult for foreign learners.

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        In fact, the verb “disrespect” has been in standard use since the early 1600s. What’s more, the verb predates the noun.

  38. Laurance
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Eeeeeyoww! I just remembered another one! This one makes me grit my teeth.

    No, no! “Wax” does NOT mean “speak”! You do NOT wax at length. You do NOT wax before a distinguished audience. You do NOT wax about esoteric topics.

    Nor do you wax eloquentLY. You need an adjective, not an adverb, in this particular situation.*

    You wax eloquent because “wax” means “become”. You use an adjective because it modifies the pronoun “you”, not the verb.

    You wax eloquent when you speak eloquently.

    *You could use an adverb in certain situations. You could quickLY wax eloquent when the professor called on you to explain the concept.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Very good! Thanks for that lesson!

      I’ve almost never used the verb; but I now see the correct usage clearly.

      Misuse of adjectives vs. adverbs (either direction) bugs me.

    • mfdempsey1946
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Haven’t heard this one — except in “Horsefeathers,” where after being told that “The dean is waxing wroth,” Groucho replies, “Tell Roth to wax the dean for a while.”

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      In such situations people wane ineloquent.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Especially when mooning.

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      My deceased beloved one used to wax her legs, despite the fact her legs were quite hairless, at least to my not uncritical eyes. So.

  39. David Coxill
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Don’t like the way Americans use the word bring ,as in i have got to bring the kids to school .

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I usually use the verb “take”. “I have to take my son to school.” Does that escape your opprobrium?

      • cyan
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        In Texas, most of those I met that were born there used “carry” rather than “take”.

        As in: “I carried the kids to school this morning after they missed the bus”.

        This always saddled me with unusual mental images.

      • David Coxill
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t mean to offend anyone .

        Had to look up opprobrium ,
        was going to look up apathy and sarcasm as well
        but i could not be bothered .

        • David Coxill
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          Anyway as a English man i think it is about time you Americans started paying us for using our language ,maybe one British new Penny for every ten words spoken by an American.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Now, you’re bringing the pain (as Method Man would say).

  40. James Fletcher
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I strongly dislike people that can’t deal with language constantly evolving. It’s as if they value their own little slice of time as though it’s special in someway and deserves default status. Much like the theist position that being religious is particularly worthy of consideration. You folks sound like a bunch of old curmudgeons loudly complaining about that new fangled rock music and moving your hips while dancing. Stuff changes. Get over it.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      There’re changes that add to our ability to communicate and changes that subtracts from it. Complaining about the negative ones is positive and adds the conversation.

    • Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Sorry, but your comment is rude. Since you strongly dislike the many commenters here, who are, after all, just having fun, either apologize for your rudeness or I’ll kick you out the door.

  41. Anastasia Cheetham
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Pronunciation of “nuclear” as “nucular”. Arg! It is becoming so common that it seems accepted, but it’s just so wrong!!

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Very good!

    • hughvane
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      And Febuary.

    • KD33
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes, yes!

    • cyan
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:40 am | Permalink

      I met a representative of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Region III who gave me his card – on it, “Nuclear” was spelled “Nucular”.

      It was so difficult to be polite and not mention it.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        Spelled nucular??? OMFG.

        I once had to look up my then favorite Toronto Chinese restaurant in the phone book and it was spelled Szechuan Galden…

        • Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          They at least might have the excuse that they are not native speakers of English …

          • Merilee
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            I found it amusing thst r and l were mixed up in the written Englush, too.

            • Merilee
              Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

              Back to nucular, I believe that the very bright and nuclear engineer, no less, Jimmy Carter said nucular. W did too, but that was not surprising. I’m surprised that Trump can say it propery.

              • Merilee
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

                That’s properLy…

              • nicky
                Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

                proper lie

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      If pronunciation is allowed, I have a small beef with ‘eksetera’ instead of ‘etsetera’ or even the slightly pedantic ‘et ketera’. However, it does not cost me a minute of sleep.

  42. Teresa Carson
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    For weeks, my husband has been complaining about the use of the double “is.” He is especially upset that President Obama, whom he otherwise admires, seems to use that construction frequently.

    • David Coxill
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Always considered the use of the double Had a strange part of the English language .

  43. E.A. Blair
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Whenever you’re with someone who cringes at a particular misuse of language, just pat that person on the back, and murmur “there, their, they’re”.

    • David Coxill
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Snigger snigger .

  44. Denise
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad no one mentions “hopefully”. Though I know it’s wrong as usually used, I find it indispensable.

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Easily dispensed with: “I hope …”

      It even has fewer syllables.

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        There is nothing wrong with the use of “hopefully” as what’s known as a “sentence adverb”–except that, unaccountably, it still bothers a lot of people.

        As the grammarian Richard Nordquist writes, “The sentence adverb has served a useful function in English since the 14th century. In the past few decades, however, one sentence adverb in particular has come in for a lot of criticism.” He’s referring to “hopefully.”

        He goes on to give a variety of examples, saying, “Unlike an ordinary adverb–which is conventionally defined as a word that modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb–a sentence adverb modifies a sentence as a whole or a clause within a sentence.

        “Dozens of words can be used as sentence adverbs, among them actually, apparently, basically, briefly, certainly, clearly, conceivably, confidentially, curiously, evidently, fortunately, hopefully, however, ideally, incidentally, indeed, interestingly, ironically, naturally, predictably, presumably, regrettably, seriously, strangely, surprisingly, thankfully, theoretically, therefore, truthfully, ultimately, and wisely.”

        • darrelle
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          I am thoroughly enjoying you comments in this conversation Don.

        • nicky
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          I basically agree, but curiously and unfortunately you didn’t mention unwisely, pedantically speaking that is.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:51 am | Permalink

      ‘Hopefully’ bugs me too. However, I agree, there is no concise alternative. The grammatical equivalent is “It is to be hoped that” which sounds pompous and circumlocuitous.

      “I hope” is not a substitute since it carries a slightly different connotation, it changes an impersonal observation into a personal one.

      cr

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        “Hopefully” is often used as what’s called a sentence adverb. It’s perfectly grammatical, really.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:50 am | Permalink

          Then why does it sound wrong?

          I’m not being facetious here.

          I think I know why. Because e.g. ‘regrettably’ is seen as an attribute of the circumstances, whereas ‘regretfully’ is an emotion of the participants. Hence “regrettably, they took the first flight home” is quite different from “regretfully, they took the first flight home”. This suggests that there should be a parallel word “hopeably” – but regrettably there isn’t.

          cr

  45. S.K.Graham
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    So, evolution is fine for living organisms, but not OK for living languages?

    I think you must be an…

    Organismist?
    Bioist?
    Organist?

    Wait, got it:

    Biologist.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      “Organist” — You mean like the great Jimmy Smith on the Hammond B-3?

    • ladyatheist
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Originalist? (analogous to Scalia being a Constitutional originalist)

  46. Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Badger as a verb. I’ve lived around badgers and never had any trouble with them at all.

    And when people say “I’d like to be a fly on the wall in that meeting!” Ok, but that would mean you see everything as a mosaic of tiny blurry images and hear everything in tones of buzzing and whistling.

  47. mfdempsey1946
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    “Hack” — as a substitute for “piece of advice” or “technique.

    As in internet-infesting headlines such as “10 Basic Life Hacks To Becoming Rich.”

    Whoever uses “hack” this way is a hack.

  48. Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    split infinitives
    irrelevant Capital Letters
    using _whom_ when _who_ is required (usually
    to sound learned)
    using _I_ when _me_ is required
    HOPEFULLY 😈 for _one may hope_
    inserting irrelevant religion, god knows
    verbing nouns (Cf. _gifted_, _supra_
    unnecessary Latin
    academic passive voice is to be avoided

    • KD33
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      I am an avid user and abuser of the split infinitive.

      I’m betting you have an opinion on the Oxford comma?

      • darrelle
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        I was just about to say something similar. Split infinitives are great.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        Splint infinitives don’t bother me in the least. But because they do some people, I generally try to avoid them by reworking a sentence’s syntax (unless the middle of the infinitive is precisely where an adverb was meant to go). Still, I’m not one to needlessly and without due regard split an infinitive with a whole adverbial phrase.

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          I like the Elizabethan touch of placing the modifier before the infinitive, boldly to write as great men writ before.

          • Stephen Barnard
            Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            Original:

            Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

            Modified #1:

            Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, boldly to go where no man has gone before.

            It doesn’t scan as well as the original, IMO.

            Modified #2 (my favorite):

            Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to go boldly where no man has gone before.

            “Boldly” modifies the “going”.

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        I have an opinion, a feeling, and a passion for it.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      I’m not doctrinaire about split infinitives, although I think they should be avoided in most cases. One time I edited a DARPA proposal for a colleague and found split infinitives in nearly every sentence. It was like he couldn’t construct an infinitive phrase without splitting it, like they REQUIRED splitting, like they were incomplete without an intervening adverb. When he saw the marked-up copy he was baffled and bordering on furious. He thought he was a good writer.

      • Diana Hook
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        There’s nothing grammatically wrong with the split infinitive. Earlier writing stylists banned them because they equated English infinitives, which consist of two words (i.e., “to be”) with Latin ones, which consist of one (i.e., “esse”), the reasoning being that if you can’t split a Latin infinitive you shouldn’t do it in English either. Which is absurd.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          There’s grammar, and then there’s style. When every infinitive phrase, of which there were many in this proposal, is split as though from a sense of duty, that’s bad style. From a crass point of view, it will raise the hackles of any prescriptivist reviewer. 🙂

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          Diana, you are correct about Latin grammar and its importation into elegant English. However, _absurd_ is needlessly harsh. The rhythm of English, often iambic, flows better without split infinitives. Avoiding splits also makes translation into other languages more faithful.

    • Craw
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      The failure to correctly split infinitives or to recognize that English is not Latin, and so to ignorantly decry a practice as old as the language.

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      The proscription against the split infinitive was first advanced (merely as a matter of “elevated style”) by the 18th century amateur grammarian, Robert Lowth, whose A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR (1762) exercised undue influence in establishing too many early “rules”–which are actually arbitrary, often dubious stylistic conventions.

      As Bill Bryson points out in THE MOTHER TONGUE (1990), not only is there is absolutely no good reason to refrain from splitting an infinitive, but it’s “exceedingly difficult” to find any authority on style and usage who condemns it–not Fowler, Bernstein, Follett, Gowers, Partridge, Flesch, or Coppenrud. And, as Otto Jespersen puts it, “‘To” is no more an essential part of an infinitive than the definite article is an essential part of a nominative, and no one would think of calling ‘the good man’ a split nominative.”

  49. Dragon
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    The use of ‘alot’ meaning ‘a lot’. I even saw ‘allot’ in place of ‘a lot’ the other day. I figured that was auto correct replacing ‘alot’ with a valid English word that had no place in that particular sentence.

    • Diana Hook
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Let’s get rid of “alright,” too.

      • Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        How about redundancy, as found in the oft used, “That particular….”

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      I even like the Durbanite ‘enol’ (‘and all that’) a lot. (I meant to write alot, but spellchecker ‘corrected’ it),

  50. Joseph McClain
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I am much more amused than bothered by “penultimate” used to denote “way beyond ultimate.” But I seem to see it used incorrectly more than in accordance with the correct definition, which is simply “next to last.” Y is the penultimate letter in the alphabet.

  51. Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Sentences that start with the word “actually,” especially when they occur after a conversation ended and I walked away, only to realize the person is following me.

  52. Marou
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Rules follow usage which will trump all our pedantry but I’ll be glad to see the back of apostrophes and commas, unnecessary unless their omission leads to ambiguity

  53. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    The duplicated “is” is known formally as a “double copula” (not to be confused with a double bill of movies by Francis Ford Coppola and his daughter Sophia). Some style experts approve (if there is a comma between them) and others don’t, but it is recommended to replace one of them by “being” such as

    The problem being, is that…

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      The double “is” is an idiomatic locution common in speech. Obama uses it often. What happens is that “the truth is” or “the fact is” or “what it is” or “the problem is” becomes what’s called a lexical bundle, a unit that serves as the subject. And it needs a verb.

      • Tom
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        “What it is, is that…” is perfectly correct. The other examples are not.

        • Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          It’s really not a matter of correctitude. It’s just a habit of informal usage, one almost entirely confined to casual speech.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        The double is is (🤓) my only beef/gripe with Obama’s otherwise extremely eloquent way of speaking.

  54. Mark Ayling
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    PCC: “Drop” meaning “was released”. For example, “Demi Lovato’s new single dropped yesterday.”

    Thank you! I thought I was alone with this one. Not only does it invert the meaning – previously, “dropping” a single implied that you had decided NOT to release it – it gives me the image of the product being dropped from Celebrity Olympia to the grateful masses below.

    • Mark Ayling
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Olympus! *kicks self*

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      It is dropped on us, that useless (to put it mildly) single song or flick (film), like a bomb on Dresden. Perfect usage immo, no beef.

  55. Tom
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    “As such, …” meaning “Because of that…”

    I wholeheartedly agree with number 1. Even otherwise respectable people (Obama) do it all the time.

  56. S.K.Graham
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Using “beef” for “peeve”. Back in 1800 nobody complained if they were lucky enough to eat beef.

    “Different to” argh!!

    It’s “different from” people… “similar to” and “different from”.

    Misuse of ‘literally’ literally makes my head explode.

    • Merilee
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Agreed on different from, but I believe the Brits use different to.

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        The use of “literally” as an intensifier bothers a lot of people, but, in fact, its non-literal sense has long been established in the language, dating back to the 1760s. There’s room here for greater tolerance.

        The hyperbolic use of “literally” is no more wrong than is the use of “really” in “If we don’t get home before midnight, my dad is really going to kill me.”


        Do see Merriam-Webster’s estimable Emily Brewster on this one:

  57. Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    “Medal,” as a verb meaning to earn a medal, has been in standard use now for decades. In THE LANGUAGE INSTINCT (1994), Steven Pinker points out that up to a fifth of English verbs are derived from nouns–including such ancient verbs as rain, snow, and thunder, along with more recent verbs like oil, pressure, referee, bottle, debut, audition, highlight, diagnose, critique, email, and mastermind. “In fact,” he writes, “easy conversion of nouns to verbs has been part of English grammar for centuries; it is one of the processes that make English English.”

    • S.K.Graham
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Verbing nouns and nouning verbs is an entirely correct way to language.

      Time to get your cope on.

      • S.K.Graham
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        (That was more towards OP & others…you clearly are in agreement.)

      • Richard C
        Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        +1 for nouning adjectives:

        “But some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground.” – Smoke on the Water

  58. Bernhard
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    „that“ for „who“ and „who“ for „whom“

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      There is no grammatical foundation for the belief that it’s incorrect to refer to a person as a “that” (“the man that I marry,” “the girl that married dear old dad,” and so on). In fact, “that” has been in standard use as a pronoun with a human antecedent for a long time, as R.W. Burchfield points out in his lengthy discussion in THE NEW FOWLER’S MODERN ENGLISH USAGE (1996).

      The MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH USAGE points out that “that” is our oldest general relative pronoun. It was regularly used to refer to persons as well as to things in our earliest literature. What’s more, the OED cites Chaucer, Langland, and Wyclif using it this way, and it includes citations from writers in every century since then. And let us recognize that some constructions seem to work better with “that.”

  59. Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    “One of the only”

  60. Lou
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    submission – submittal
    Submission is what I receive from my dog.
    Send your submittal through the mail.

  61. Posted October 18, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    From the world of sports:

    1. The Giants control their own destiny;

    2. Going forward, we need to play better from now on.

    3. In hockey or soccer, a goal becomes “hitting the back of the net.”

    4. Instead of an American football player fumbling the football, he now “leaves it on the ground!”

  62. barn owl
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    This one is an occupational hazard, for those of us who teach medical students: the use of the word “pimp” instead of “ask questions.” As in “Are you going to pimp us today Dr. Barn Owl?” when I’m preparing to ask them questions about their cadaver dissection.

    Apparently it’s standard usage in the context of some clinics and hospital wards, when medical students are asked questions by the attendings and residents. But I loathe that usage.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Maybe they’re just fans of Iceberg Slim?

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      And I thought “pimp” just was extended to mean something like “make ostentatious” or “make more expensive for no good reason”.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Me, too, as in pimp my ride…

  63. Lee
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    “There bringing some there friends with them…”

  64. Char-li@hawaii.rr.com
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    And my all time unfavorite:

    “I could care less” which is the opposite of what they think they are saying, “I couldn’t care less”

    Char-li

  65. Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The use of mom or dad instead of mother or father. Mom (or Mum for Brits, Australians etc)and Dad used to be terms to address our own parents.

    Now these words are used for any parent eg Hitler’s mom, Beethoven’s dad etc.

    It just sounds infantile to me.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      …and in the places that shouldn’t be as Appalachian as they are, “Memaw” and “Papaw” for grandmother & grandfather.

    • yazikus
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Rather than “Mother says…..”, I much prefer if they indicate whose parent they are referring to. “My mother says….”.

    • Gordon
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      seriously agree but that ones is a lost battle. I blame it (like most of these things) on newspapers who prefer “Mum of 5 murders all the mums in her child’s playgroup” instead of mother.

      Also (and probably worse) “Mum of 5 appointed to be CEO of Apple”

  66. ladyatheist
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    “Take a listen” on the TV news.

    “you’ve” for “you have” as in “if you’ve any comments on this email…”

    …. Yes, my comment is the word is HAVE and you’ve only got to use two extra characters! This isn’t “My Fair Lady” it’s an office!

  67. ladyatheist
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    In news coverage of hurricanes and floods: “911 dispatchers were inundated.”

    That’s just WRONG!

    • Merilee
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      They would be inundated if they were in fact drowning😬

    • Dick Veldkamp
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:24 am | Permalink

      911 of them?

    • Phil Landerer
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      No, “inundate” can mean “overwhelm,’ so that’s correct.

      • ladyatheist
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

        It’s correct but it’s WRONG!

  68. Diana Hook
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    “Disinterested” to mean “uninterested”. The first is a synonym for “nonpartisan”; the second for “not interested.”

    “Bored of” instead of “bored with.”

    “Fulsome” (“complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree”) for “full.”

    • Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      About “disinterested,” as MWDEU notes in its conclusion to a lengthy entry, “The alleged confusion between “disinterested” and “uninterested” does not exist. Nor has the ethical sense of “disinterested” been lost. “Disinterested” carries the bulk of use for all meanings; “uninterested” is much less frequently used.”

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted October 21, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        It seems to me that “disinterested” and “uninterested” have very different meanings, and that the confusion is real. “Disinterested” connotes (to me) an absence of undue influence, whether ideological, personal, monetary, or whatever. “Uninterested” connotes exactly what is appears to — a lack of interest, in the sense of not caring or being concerned about something.

        A judge should be disinterested in a case, but not uninterested.

        • Posted October 21, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          As the MWDEU makes clear–and its entry is worth reading–the ethical connotation of “disinterested” still applies in a fitting context, but the word is also synonymous with “uninterested,” and it’s used in that sense far more than is “uninterested.”

          • Stephen Barnard
            Posted October 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

            I’m not saying it’s ungrammatical, incorrect, or uncommon. On the contrary, it’s all too common, which is what makes it irritating. Making one word do the work of two dilutes the specific and useful meaning of “disinterested”.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

              Absolutely agree there. ‘Disinterested’ is in danger of losing its meaning through misuse, IMO.

              I’ll quote the OED:

              “Nowhere are the battle lines more deeply drawn in usage questions than over the difference between disinterested and uninterested. According to traditional guidelines, disinterested should never be used to mean ‘not interested’ (i.e. it is not a synonym for uninterested) but only to mean ‘impartial’, as in the judgements of disinterested outsiders are likely to be more useful. Ironically, the earliest recorded sense of disinterested is for the disputed sense. Today, the ‘incorrect’ use of disinterested is widespread: around a quarter of citations in the Oxford English Corpus for disinterested are for this sense.”

              But I will admit the situation is slightly messy, in that something can be uninteresting, or I can show ‘disinterest’ in something (but ‘disinteresting’ and ‘uninterest’ are not words).

              cr

              • Stephen Barnard
                Posted October 21, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

                “Begs the question” is a lost cause, but “disinterested” is still in play. Resist!

              • Posted October 21, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

                “Disinterested” is still in play because the word still carries both connotations–and the “impartial” connotation isn’t fuzzy (or unusual) in careful diction. As the astute observers at the Grammarist point out, however, “[W]e had trouble finding even a few examples of disinterested used in its old sense in 21st-century writing. Those who resist change to English might have to accept defeat on this one.”

                http://grammarist.com/usage/disinterested-uninterested/#comments

              • Stephen Barnard
                Posted October 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

                By the way, no one says “uninteresting”. They say “not interesting”. “Uninteresting” has the connotation of being the opposite of interesting, which is something like boring.

              • Posted October 21, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

                “Disinteresting” is certainly a word.

                The OED defines it:

                Uninteresting; causing lack of interest.

                1737 WARBURTON Let. to Birch in Boswell Johnson (1887) I. 29 A dull, heavy succession of long quotations of disinteresting passages.

                1800 W. TAYLOR in Monthly Mag. X. 319 The attempt..produces on all the Disciples a similar disinteresting effect.

                18.. The Studio III. 130 (Cent.) He rarely paints a disinteresting subject.

              • Posted October 22, 2017 at 12:03 am | Permalink

                Can’t argue with that! Have been liking all your educational posts!

  69. Brian salkas
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    “There’s problems with…” instead of “there are problems with…” is a huge pet peeve of mine.

    • Brian salkas
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Gotta add my favorite typo from Gad Saad’s book the consuming instinct:
      “I am mortified by mosquitoes.”
      Really… they humiliate you?

      • yazikus
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        What on earth was he intending to say?

        • Nobody Special
          Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          Immortalized? The mosquitoes simply adored him.
          Or possibly he might have meant that he had a mosquito sting that had become affected by gangrene.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:59 am | Permalink

        As in mortifying the flesh possibly: could be a euphemism for ‘torture’. Especially if the user is coming from another language.
        Mortificato in Italian and possibly Latin means ‘Embarassed’ as in English but there is a secondary sense of ‘troubled by’

        Just found the actual third meaning (Oxford):
        (of flesh) be affected by gangrene or necrosis.
        ‘a scratch or cut in Henry’s arm had mortified’

        Mosquitoes in Milan do in fact cause bites that tend to get infected and they can cause a small region of necrosis around the bite.

    • Merilee
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      +many

  70. Susan D.
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    OMG, so many!
    “Lay”, “laid”, “laying” instead of “lie”, “lay”, “lying”. I NEVER hear anyone use the correct word.
    “Infer” instead of “imply”, ditto.
    “Decimate” when they mean almost totally destroyed rather than “reduced by a tenth”.
    “Extra bonus”.
    “handfulls” instead of “handsfull”.
    “less” instead of “fewer”

  71. Herb Hunter
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    A peeve of mine is the misuse of the phrase, begs the question, but I see someone already brought that misuse up.

    Another annoyance is the inappropriate use of, bring. If one goes, one takes. If one comes, one brings, doggone it. I keep hearing people say bring when the correct word would be, take.

    Lately I’ve been hearing or reading phrases like, the car brings heated seats instead of, the car comes with heated seats.

    I’m just getting started but since I don’t want to peruse the many posts above to make sure someone hasn’t already mentioned other
    vexations, I’ll list no others.

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Trouble is, “begs the question” now actually does mean “prompts the question.” The original, “correct” usage is simply too obscure for most people to understand, much less to use in the proper context (to mean “assumes the conclusion”).

      That’s why, like it or not, the expression has evolved to include the new meaning—and even to supersede the old meaning. So to inveigh against it is futile. The phrase has become, as they say in linguistics, skunked. See linguist Mark Liberman’s recommendation:

      “Never use the phrase yourself — use “assume the conclusion” or “raise the question”, depending on what you mean — and cultivate an attitude of serene detachment in the face of its use by others.”

  72. W.Benson
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    “Vizualize”: a useless word invented for some obscure reason shortly after 1910.

    • Kevin
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Its fairly widely used in computing: to visualise data or image on the screen/monitor. Display, plot and render (and even show) are also used.

    • Charles
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      To create a mental image.

  73. Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like the phrase “quantum leap”, meaning a large change. Since a quantum is the smallest possible amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction, the phrase is essentially an oxymoron.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:03 am | Permalink

      Oh, agreed. It gives me some perverse, morose satisfaction to consider that the wally using it is actually claiming that the event they are describing is actually the smallest, most insignificant non-event it is possible to conceive.

      cr

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Probably more a physicist’s peeve than others’.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        I always picture electrons leaping from one energy level/probability to another.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 20, 2017 at 3:34 am | Permalink

          Same here. It also implies a discrete change as opposed to a continuous one.

          • Merilee
            Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            Perfect description, Diane! And then there’s always the continual vs. continuous distinction ( which difference escapes me at the moment…)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:26 am | Permalink

        I’m not a physicist but it still peeves me massively, simply because there is only one meaning of ‘quantum jump’, it’s what ‘quantum’ was all about, so using it to refer to a large jump is just pig-ignorant.

        cr

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      It is dropped on us, that useless (to put it mildly) single song or flick (film), like a bomb on Dresden. Perfect usage immo, no beef.

  74. shelleywatsonburch
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    This is not a language peeve exactly, but I am alarmed at the sudden Inability to capitalize correctly. It seems a recent phenomenon: people Capitalizing words they think are Important. I don’t understand it.

    • yazikus
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      me Neither.

    • cyan
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      It may be that just are seeing more of the writing of uneducated people (as in comments on many news sites) since the ease of internet access.

      (One can see these errors in letters and journals from the nineteenth century as well as the twentieth century.)

      The writers do not learn the difference between proper and common nouns in grade school, and then they become unsure of verb capitalization, also.

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Capitalizing Every Word In A Sentence Is Also Annoying. You aren’t writing a title, dammit!

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Conversely, a lot of publications I read have titles in which the first letter of the first word is capitalised, but none of the others, which I find strange.

  75. Merilee
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Never heard “dropped”. Agree on your other two and also hate “reached out” for contacted.

  76. Jakc
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    1) The use of basically almost anytime. Basically, it’s hard to think of a sentence where it can’t be dropped.

    2) Signage instead of sign or signs.

    3) Ascribing wrath or rage or fury to a storm or fire. Hurricanes and wildfires aren’t mad at anyone. A tornado won’t destroy your mobile home out of anger

    • Doug
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      I had a science teacher who was showing us a film strip [this was the 1970s] that referred to a tyrannosaurus having “cruel teeth, six inches long.” He grumbled, “They always say that-‘cruel teeth.’ As opposed to what-friendly teeth? Well-mannered teeth?”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      Your category 3) would include instances of the “pathetic fallacy” as well as its close kin, personification and anthropomorphism. I don’t see any problem with them, as long as they’re understood to be figurative rather than literal.

      • jakc
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        what might be acceptable in literature ought to be avoided in reporting. as for distinguisihing between literal and figurative, far too often we get the pat Robertsons of the world trying give storms agency and motives

        • jakc
          Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          And while I was originally addressing very linited point that newspapers ought not to write about Harvey’s fury, I do think that other writers ought to be wary of the “pathetic fallacy.” 40 years ago, The Selfish Gene seemed a wonderful metaphor. But now that metaphor seems to get in the way of Dawkin’s arguments and might better have been discarded

  77. Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    On the off chance that a comment buried under hundreds peeves will be seen at all, I offer up the following — for the linguistically curious.

    The ‘double copula,’ ‘double is,’ or ‘thing is’ construction has been discussed quite a bit in the literature, including this unfortunately titled paper, in which it’s argued not to actually be a disfluency (i.e., not a mistake):

    http://eecoppock.info/CoppockBrenierStaumMichaelis.pdf

    In fact, the appearance of this construction is non-random, as one cannot freely say (1) in the same way one often finds (2).

    (1) *The thing is is on the table
    (2) The thing is, is that it’s on the table

    That is, the construction only seems to be viable when followed by an complete assertion.

    One analysis (though there is not currently a consensus on this matter, as far as I know) is that sentences exhibiting this phenomenon are analogous to the so-called pseudo-cleft construction, as seen in (3).

    (3) What this is is a good example

    In such a sentence, leaving out the doubled copula is in fact ungrammatical, as you can see in (4).

    (4) *What this is a good example.

    Though other viable alternatives exist, including the possibility that the first copula is serving as a kind of focus marker.

    • Charles
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      “Disfluency.” I like that. I need to remember that word.

    • cyan
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      In other words, complete assertion and insertion is necessary for the fluency of doubled copulation?

  78. Keith
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    “For all intensive purposes”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      That one’s a mondegreen.

      • Susan D.
        Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me of my mother, who always said “desecrated coconut”

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          That’s wonderful!

          • David Coxill
            Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

            We are just prawns in the big game .
            HAHA .
            My mate told me his mother in law pointing to something on top of a car said
            “Look a Scurf Board “

      • cyan
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:19 am | Permalink

        “Snow-covered horses
        And fire in the sky”

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        Also called an eggcorn. And it’s in the database.

        https://eggcorns.lascribe.net/

  79. Charles
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    1. “Looking to,” as in “looking to hire,” “looking to sell,” etc.

    2. “The barn needs painted” and similar constructs. Try “the barn needs to be painted” or “the barn needs painting.”

    • cyan
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      Has anyone ever perceived a sentient barn . . . – one with wants or needs?

      Most sentient humans have a desire for order and, therefore, want delignated barns repaired and peeling ones painted. These people might say the barn should be painted.

      The owner might need to paint it to avoid a fine for it being unsightly.

      But the barn itself does not need paint or our approval.

      Unless…!

  80. Stephen Barnard
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Most prescriptivists are actually mean spirited proscriptivists.

    • cyan
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:28 am | Permalink

      e.g., “just keep the knees together”

  81. Stephen Barnard
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    People who aren’t Dutch who pronounce van Gogh like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceo7E1R78yo

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Do you believe that all foreign names should be given English pronunciation? In this particular case there is not a standard English pronunciation for all words ending in …gh (eg though, enough, burgh, haugh) so why not try the correct Dutch one?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        I think van Gogh does have a sufficiently well-established English version to justify calling him ‘van Goff’, particularly since the genuine Dutch is almost unpronounceable and incomprehensible to English ears.

        A bit like ‘Paris’, ‘Rome’ or ‘Moscow’.
        Saying ‘Paree’, ‘Roma’ or ‘Moskva’ is, IMO, a little bit pretentious.

        This is not just an English quirk, after all, the French say ‘Londres’ and ‘Douvres’.

        My rule (i.e. my opinion) is, where there is an established English pronunciation, use it – this usually applies to major cities only. Where there isn’t, one should at least try to approximate the foreign pronunciation and not butcher it too badly.

        cr

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        I was stealing a joke from Woody Allen.

        • Posted October 20, 2017 at 2:41 am | Permalink

          Sorry, that went right over my head.

          And to cr, I would argue that the problem with van Gogh is that there isn’t an accepted English pronunciation, as far a I’ve heard. Of course, as a Scot, I have no problem with the Dutch pronunciation 😉

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 20, 2017 at 3:14 am | Permalink

            Well, I have to say that most of the efforts I’ve heard, while they might be wrong, are at least comprehensible, whereas that clip Stephen linked just isn’t.

            And that clip leads on to another clip where the presenter takes four minutes arguing about how to pronounce it and failing.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1GzmXlDqJY

            🙂

            cr

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted October 20, 2017 at 3:20 am | Permalink

              … in fact searching ‘van gogh pronunciation’ on Youtube produces approximately 60 videos. The mind boggles.

              cr

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      And then, her ‘g”s are a bit softer than many a Dutchman would pronounce it. (no, no cheap shots at soft spots, they’re off here).
      Although I appreciate that each language has it’s own way to pronounce, some may have difficulty in recognising ‘van goff’, but then we have Leghorn and Livorno too, and these are indogermanic languages. How badly do we massacre, say, Chinese names?

  82. Nobody Special
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    I despise “I am loving (those shoes; this colour, etc.)” It’s ” I love…..”
    But a new circle of Hell should be created for whichever arse came up with ‘in the mentioning cloud’ to mean that the subject is one of the people being spoken oo in relation to a specific thing, so if I were to be one of several people being touted as a possible candidate for a role, I would be in the mentioning cloud for that role.

  83. cyan
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    I really dislike the use of “need” instead of “wanting” or “should”.

    “I need you to …” instead of “I’d like you to …”

    “That person needs to be put in jail” rather than “That person should be jailed”

    I think that these usages must have begun in psychology in an attempt to manipulate situations.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      Oh, yes!

      “He needs to be in jail” – no! He doesn’t need to be jailed, he’d be much happier out of it. ‘We’ think we need him to be in jail.

      As for “I need you to do this” my immediate retort is “Really? How badly?”

      cr

  84. Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh god(dess), where do I start? Lol 😉

    Agreed, “gift” is *not* a verb! Who started this one anyway??

    Eck-cetera is another.

    “Proved” when it should be “proven”.

    “Pleaded guilty” should be “pled guilty”.

    Don’t forget the dissolution of basic subject-verb agreement.

    And of course, “less” vs “fewer” (if I hear one more commercial tout “less calories”, I’m going to march down to the ad agency and mummify the windshield wipers of the cars in the parking lot in freaking duct tape.

    • merilee
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      +1 on less vs. fewer!

    • Phil Landerer
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:34 am | Permalink

      “Pleaded guilty” is not only grammatically correct, it is preferred by most all grammarians, as well as the OED. The way things are going today to allow English usage to accept what is more widely used is unfortunate, but something we have to deal with.

    • Posted October 22, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      “Gift,” in fact, is a standard verb long in use. According to the OED, the use of “gift” to mean “to make a present of” (as distinct from “give”) dates to the early 1600s.


      “Both “proved” and “proven” are well-established standard forms of the verb. “Pled” is a common past-tense form of “plead.” Bryan A, Garner says, “The best course is to treat plead as a weak verb,
      so that the correct past tense, as well as past participle, is pleaded.” But he goes on to say that pled is an alternative past-tense form, particularly in American English (and that “pled” is a common variant in legal usage.

      There’s nothing wrong with “less calories.” If one treats “calories” as an amount, as in there are “less than 200 calories in that muffin,” it’s no different from “We have less than 10 miles to go.”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 22, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        “Less than 10 miles” is predicated on ‘miles’ being divisible, which they obviously are.

        Calories (or millimetres) – being very small units – are less often fractioned, but I suppose technically they can be.

        If they were regarded as individual units then it should be ‘fewer’ – “contains [fewer than 200] calories”

        More often, and certainly with lengths, a nominated length is regarded as a single entity, hence “less than [150mm]” is quite correct.

        On the other hand, “items” are obviously discrete units (as in ’12 items or fewer’)

        cr

        • Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          Really, “!2 Items or Less” is fine. As I’ve posted earlier here, the distinction between “less” and “fewer” is less clear-cut than many believe.

          “Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage” traces the objection to “less” where many might prefer “fewer” to Robert Baker, who commented in his “Reflections on the English Language”(1770):

          “This word is most commonly used in speaking of a Number; where I should think Fewer would be better. No Fewer than a Hundred appears to me not only more elegant than No less than a Hundred, but more strictly proper.”

          MWDEU points out that the guarded nature of Baker’s words suggests he is expressing a personal view. By the 20th century, however, that view had for many become a “rule” of usage. But, as MWDEU reminds us, the OED shows that “less” has been used for countables for more than 1000 years.

          In assessing examples showing “less” used with countable nouns, MWDEU concludes: “[N]ative speakers and writers of English use “less” of count nouns in various constructions. ‘Fewer’ could have been used in many of [the examples]. At times it might have been thought more elegant, as Robert Baker thought, but in others no native speaker would use anything but ‘less.’”

          It’s worth pondering why we are content with a single word, “more,” to describe both greater quantities and greater amounts. Pam Peters, in “The Cambridge Guide to English Usage” makes a good point: “[I]t was and is essentially a stylistic choice, between the more formal ‘fewer’ and the more spontaneous ‘less.’ ‘Fewer’ draws attention to itself, whereas ‘less’ shifts the focus on to its more significant neighbours.”

          That notion would justify the much decried supermarket sign: “15 Items Or Less” (not that it should need justification), particularly when the shopper’s basket may be considered as containing an amount, “discrete units” notwithstanding.

          • Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

            For more, see Geoffrey Pullum:

            http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2819

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            It’s interesting to speculate on how many of our language “rules” are simply the personal prejudices of a persnickity grammarian. Personally, I’m caught between two viewpoints: I have a degree in English that’s based on grammar studies, which inclines me towards the prescriptive school of thought, but I also have a degree in linguistics which pushes me into the descriptive camp.

            • Posted October 22, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

              I know what you mean, but I think the now outworn dichotomy never did have much useful applicability, at least in terms of correctitude. The language has several dialects, that’s all, and while the academic, or formal, “prescriptive” dialect has its place and purpose, it’s just one of them.

              I like what Steven Pinker had to say about this recently in Slate:

              Rules of proper usage are tacit conventions. Conventions are unstated agreements within a community to abide by a single way of doing things—not because there is any inherent advantage to the choice, but because there is an advantage to everyone making the same choice. Standardized weights and measures, electrical voltages and cables, computer file formats, the Gregorian calendar, and paper currency are familiar examples.

              The conventions of written prose represent a similar kind of standardization. Countless idioms, word senses, and grammatical constructions have been coined and circulated by the universe of English speakers, and linguists capture their regularities in the “descriptive rules”—that is, rules that describe how people speak and understand. A subset of these conventions has become accepted by a virtual community of literate speakers for use in nationwide forums such as government, journalism, literature, business, and academia. These are “prescriptive rules”—rules that prescribe how one ought to speak and write in these forums. Examples include the rules that govern agreement and punctuation as well as fine semantic distinctions between such word pairs as militate and mitigate or credible and credulous. Having such rules is desirable—indeed, indispensable—in many arenas of writing. They lubricate comprehension, reduce misunderstanding, provide a stable platform for the development of style and grace, and credibly signal that a writer has exercised care in crafting a passage.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted October 22, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

                Excellent quote.

                There inevitably have to be ‘rules’ of grammar to permit meaningful transmission of ideas. Without them, communication just breaks down.

                (Most extreme example: Computer programs, which rely on a very precisely defined formulation where getting one character wrong will result in a failure to communicate or ‘syntax error’).

                This doesn’t preclude changing some terms in the language (or inventing new ones), and the result can often be clever or amusing or witty. But there has to be a vast bulk of ‘stable’ language as a foundation. Change too many things at once and the comprehensibility just collapses. (For example, try understanding Chaucer’s English – the equivalent of changing a lot of things at once).

                This is why I personally tend to regard clever coinages with delight, while deprecating errors that just come about through ignorance – ignorance should never be approved of.

                I’d add that a sort of instinctive logic comes into it too, usually based on analogy. Frequently, the ‘correct’ grammar ‘sounds right’ to us while the corrupted version ‘sounds wrong’. (For example, the impersonal use of ‘hopefully’ (“Hopefully the weather will improve”) – by analogy with ‘regrettably/regretfully’ it should be ‘hopeably’ but there ain’t no such word. Or – less contentious example – “Bring the book on the table” which I instinctively know is wrong. Not only do I not need to analyse it to know it’s wrong, I’m not sure I could. But it’s still wrong.)

                cr

              • Posted October 22, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

                Yes, Pinker is brilliant.

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted October 22, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

            “It’s worth pondering why we are content with a single word, “more,” to describe both greater quantities and greater amounts. Pam Peters, in “The Cambridge Guide to English Usage” makes a good point: “[I]t was and is essentially a stylistic choice, between the more formal ‘fewer’ and the more spontaneous ‘less.’ “

            It happens in other areas. We say that a certain tree is 15 feet tall; when it’s cut down and stripped of its branches, it’s a log 15 feed long. When it gets stuck in the ground to be used as a utility pole, it becomes tall once again. Of course in this case, there is a change in spatial orientation that could explain the difference. I wish I had the time to examine other languages to see if there are any that use the same word where English uses two.

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted October 22, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

              Typo: “feed” should have been “feet”.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 22, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        interesting point re: miles. I would say there are a few fewer miles from Oakville to Hamilton than from Oakville to Toronto, but that we have less than five miles to go. I wonder why?

        • Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

          See this excellent discussion of the matter, with helpful links to more, by the esteemed linguist Geoffrey Pullum in Language Log, a fine go-to site for such issues:

          http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2819

          • Merilee
            Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            Great site! Thanks, Don. Are you Vermont-moose-Don as well? Wonderful photos.

            • Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

              Yep, that’s me, a writer of fiction who’s too easily distracted from the work at hand. 😉

              • Merilee
                Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

                Aren’t we all😬

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

          The miles between two towns is to a first approximation a discrete number, or at least that’s how it’s normally reported, so “fewer” sounds best. The significant distance in “less than five miles” is almost certainly a fraction, and the “five miles” is a fluid amount, so “less” sounds best.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 22, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

            I’d agree with that. If it’s a number of discrete objects, then ‘fewer’ is appropriate. If it’s a continuous quantity, such as a length, then ‘less’. If the number of objects is sufficiently great – in the hundreds, say – as to approach a continuum, then ‘less’ is suitable.

            But I can’t say it bothers me too much.

            cr

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 22, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          Merilee – I think, in ‘fewer miles’ you’re implicitly treating the miles as individual countable items, whereas in ‘less than [5 miles]’ you’re treating it as one continuous distance (of measured length under 5 miles).

          cr

          • Merilee
            Posted October 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

            Makes sense.

  85. cyan
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Whenever anyone writes “with baited breath”, I see in my mind a minnow dangling from a nostril.

  86. Gordon
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    A couple more

    “I’m sorry but…” meaning I’m not at all sorry but want to push some prejudice of mine

    “That’s so wrong…” another way of doing the above

  87. kersten
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    “Passed away” People die, but no one wants to say it.

    “Quality People” – Poor?, subpar?, superior?

    Bucket List – clunky and unimaginative. Ugly term

    “It is what it is”. Which is nothing. Its says fucking zero.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Or even worse, just ‘passed’. Passed what? Slow traffic? Kidney stones?

      It gets even more incongruous when their demise wasn’t due to natural causes but some thug blew their head off.

      “It is what it is” has a very limited validity, when the event is anomalous or incongruous and can’t readily be assigned to any common category. IMO. But it gets devalued by being used too often.

      cr

  88. Michieux
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Dunno if these’ve been mentioned yet:

    Thank you so much.

    Noone is coming to my party.

    Two more that give me indescribably irrits.

    • Michieux
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      Oops! indescribable is what it shoulda been.

      Thank you so much for your understanding.

  89. Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    How about ‘outside of’ as opposed to ‘outside’. Or is this acceptable in America?

    • cyan
      Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

      No.

      “Outside of” is inacceptable in the U.S., even more so than outside of the U.S.

      /s

      • Phil Landerer
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:26 am | Permalink

        Uh, “inacceptable” should be “unacceptable.”

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      I think the incorrect “outside of” arises from confusing the noun “outside”, as in “I must paint the outside of the house”, with the preposition “outside”, as in “the garden is outside the house”.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        Sounds plausible.

        cr

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      It’s certainly acceptable, particularly when it means “besides.” See the Grammarist:

      http://grammarist.com/usage/outside-of/

  90. gscott
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    So many of my (least) favorites here. But I think this one hasn’t been mentioned: the use of the word ‘spike’ to mean any increase in a quantity. A spike is a sudden increase followed by a sudden decrease. Spikes have points, dammit! Think of a railroad spike, or a desk spike (no, bad examples for today’s generation!). When you describe a sudden jump that has just happened as a spike, you’re predicting the future and saying that it’s going to decrease immediately too.

    • Mark Ayling
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:35 am | Permalink

      +1

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      I like a spiked drink too.

  91. Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    ‘Media is’ rather than ‘media are’. Television is a medium, as is radio.

    • cyan
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      But a telegraph is rare

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 1:13 am | Permalink

      Also “data shows” instead of “data show”. And while I’m here, people need to learn the difference between “it’s” and “its”.

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Data is, Media is, etc. used to irk me, but then I realised that ‘radio’ should be a plural too, and I resigned myself to accept the usage. Still, I do not think I would use the singular easily in the first two cases.

  92. John Ottaway
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    Starting sentences with “So”… ugh

    Yes, there can sometimes be a requirement, but the current trend to use it all the time, grips my sh!t

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      For me, the new “so” represents a recent trend in speech and writing. Its linguistic purpose is interesting. It’s a vogue usage, one that amounts to a brisk way for the speaker to hit the ground running. Conventionally, as a conjunction, “so” indicates that the speaker is building consequentially on a specific earlier reference, but in this new usage no specific referent exists. The listener is implicitly asked to adopt the sense of one, or just to hop on board a little out of breath.

      In linguistics such a habit of use is known as a “discourse particle.” Discourse particles are are small words that do not contribute grammatically to the content of a phrase. They are common in conversation, where they are meant to suggest the speaker’s attitude, hint at background assumptions, express emotion, or contribute to coherence. Take “well,” for example. Depending on its context and inflection, “well” can suggest hesitation, uncertainly, deference, sarcasm, or other attitudes.

  93. James Walker
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    English verbs nouns all the time.

  94. Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Gifted! bang on, PCC[E] – I also deplore that usage.

    Not heard the dropped one.

    A body such as a government, while composed of individuals, acts as a unit – so we SHOULD say “the Government is going to…” NOT “the Government are…”

    Failing to agree between person & number.

  95. mrclaw69
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    One that drives me nut is this construction: “The reason being is…”

    Gah!!!!!

  96. Anselm
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    “Different” is my bugbear. “There are many different languages spoken in New Guinea.” “The tree of life consists of three different domains.” Different…as opposed to what, exactly? This word could be dispensed with nine out of ten times.

  97. Lambert
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    The redundant “possibly can” as in “I’ll do it as soon as I possibly can”

  98. Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I was just thinking we need another one of these thread. Just this morning I came across an example of “literally” abuse.

    A comment on a story on Slashdot about Tesla being sued over racial and sexual harassment said “it happened in 2015, so it was literally under Obama”.

    I assume they meant he was on the roof of the Tesla factory when workers were harassing each other.

    Also “burglarize”. Burgle is a verb and it is what a burglar does. You don’t need to verb the noun.

    • Posted October 22, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      In fact, “burglarize” predates “burgle.” What’s more, “burgle” is a back-formation (from “burglar”) originally meant to be humorous.

  99. Bob Barber
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    One of my favorites language gripes is when pundits on television begin a comment with “What I mean is…” How do they clarify a statement before they state it?

    Another is the redundant “First year anniversary.”

  100. Tim
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    In speech, using “an” before a word that starts with a voiced “h” sound, as in “an historian”. Pronouncing it “an ‘istorian” sounds OK, though I was taught that in English we pronounce leading “h” sounds (dropping the “h” was considered sloppy speech at my school), so it should be “a historian”.

    • Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I second this!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      Taking of dropping aitches, one that gets me going is the American practice of saying “erbs” for “herbs”. Okay, so the French keep the ‘h’ silent, but that’s French, not English. I wasn’t aware that the land of Freedom Fries had so much faux respect for the French.

      cr

  101. Barry Evans
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I glance at this and go on to the next email which starts:

    Hi,
    Our latest article has just dropped and its quality!

  102. allison
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    “Fed up” and “all of a sudden” really grind my gears, though not nearly as bad as “going viral”.

  103. Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    “Can I help who’s next?”

    Clearly this phrase started life as a concatenation of “Can I help the next person?” and “Who’s next?” I hear it everywhere these days. Drives me crazy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Blame Pete Townshend.

    • Posted October 22, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Nothing grammatically wrong with it. It’s informal, that’s all, just a shortened form of “Can I help the person who is next?”

  104. Posted October 19, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Some of mine:

    1. “Alternate” and “alternative” do not mean the same thing.

    2. Dropping the “of” when referring to a couple of something: for instance: “Today I ate a couple strawberries” as opposed to “today I ate a couple of strawberries”.

    3. The usually incorrect “I could care less”, when what is meant is in fact the opposite “I couldn’t care less”.

  105. Matt Foley
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always thought “dropped” refers to a record dropping on a turntable to be played.

    • Matt Foley
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Back in the 70s before cassettes and CDs and mp3s this is how you played singles.

  106. Richard C
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    “Learnings” as a noun, all too common in Corporatespeak.

    “Let’s schedule a team meet-up to share out our learnings.”

    • Merilee
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Share out???

  107. Merilee
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    A propos Michelangelo and the FSM, behold a recent NYer cartoon:

    https://condenaststore.com/featured/the-creation-of-static-julia-suits.html

    • nicky
      Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      you mean like I like it or like kind of like?

      • nicky
        Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Oops,this was meant for like koppieop at 108

        • Merilee
          Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          I wondered…it is often hard to reply to the appropriate comment on this site.

      • Posted October 19, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        That’s it!

  108. Posted October 19, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The innecessary but increasing misuse and overuse of “like”.
    .-

  109. Posted October 19, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    My greatest irritation is the phrase “I was like . . ” instead of “I said”, closely followed by “Listen up” as opposed to “Listen”. America leads the world in the destruction of the English language, it seems.

    • Posted October 20, 2017 at 6:03 am | Permalink

      Surely it’s not a matter of “destruction” of the language but rather its opposite. New expressions and constructions, however irksome or idiomatic or colloquial, add color and variety, particularly in informal registers.

  110. Posted October 19, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    —My greatest irritation is the phrase “I was like . . ” instead of “I said” —

    This habit is also spreading fast in Spanish, at least in Argentina, where I live. The few persons I have asked why they (mis)use that word either didn’t even realize they did, or didn’t see what the problem was.
    .-

  111. Merilee
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Just saw a Daily Show we taped while we were away. Bill Gates was on talking about the wonderful work he’s doing with AIDS and malaria and polio but he used less instead of fewer no fewer than two times🤢

    • Posted October 20, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      The distinction between “less” and “fewer” is less clear-cut than many believe.

      “Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage” traces the objection to “less” where many might prefer “fewer” to Robert Baker, who commented in his “Reflections on the English Language”(1770):

      “This word is most commonly used in speaking of a Number; where I should think Fewer would be better. No Fewer than a Hundred appears to me not only more elegant than No less than a Hundred, but more strictly proper.”

      MWDEU points out that the guarded nature of Baker’s words suggests he is expressing a personal view. By the 20th century, however, that view had for many become a “rule” of usage. But, as MWDEU reminds us, the OED shows that “less” has been used for countables for more than 1000 years.

      In assessing examples showing “less” used with countable nouns, MWDEU concludes: “[N]ative speakers and writers of English use “less” of count nouns in various constructions. ‘Fewer’ could have been used in many of [the examples]. At times it might have been thought more elegant, as Robert Baker thought, but in others no native speaker would use anything but ‘less.'”

      It’s worth pondering why we are content with a single word, “more,” to describe both greater quantities and greater amounts. Pam Peters, in “The Cambridge Guide to English Usage” makes a good point: “[I]t was and is essentially a stylistic choice, between the more formal ‘fewer’ and the more spontaneous ‘less.’ ‘Fewer’ draws attention to itself, whereas ‘less’ shifts the focus on to its more significant neighbours.”

      That notion would justify the much decried supermarket sign: ‘15 Items Or Less,’ not that it should need justification, particularly when the shopper’s basket may be considered as containing an amount.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

        Thanks for this, Don. I still found Gates’ use grating, but in the grand scheme of things ( at the end of the day, etc…) I guess it’s not that big a deal😬

        • Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

          Right you are. And I’m glad to see you did not write “I guess it’s not that big of a deal.” That one bugs me just a little. 🙂

          • Laurance
            Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

            Ooooo! {grin} At the end of the day I’m getting mighty tired of the end of the day and all the stuph that is supposed to have happened by the end of the day…

            • Merilee
              Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

              Me, too!!! And I also omitted “it is what it is”. Love your spelling of stuph🤓

          • Merilee
            Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

            And I didn’t add “in the fullness of time…” as Sir Humphrey (Humpy) was wont to do in Yes, Minister😬

  112. Katkinkate
    Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I read fan fiction regularly and there are many things that show up in the stories, but what annoys me the most is, when they use ‘drug’ as the past tense for ‘drag’. It is extremely common among fan fiction authors.

    • Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      In standard English, “dragged” is the past tense and past participle of “drag.” “Drug,” however, is a regional variant used in many areas of the U.S. It’s too common to be considered “wrong,” though it is stigmatizing.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        “Drug” sounds incredibly uneducated to me.

        • Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

          Stigmatizing for sure–more so than “lay” for “lie.”

          • Merilee
            Posted October 21, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

            Lay for lie seems depressingly ubiquitous these days. Think I’ll go lay down and pull be covers over my head🙀

            • Posted October 21, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

              Yes, it seems that horse is out of the barn and ten miles down the pike.

              • Merilee
                Posted October 21, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

                Lol

  113. Posted October 20, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    English is constantly changing. Nouns becoming verbs has happened for centuries. The point is that if it serves a purpose. In some instances, the purpose is to have special language for a subclass (teenage slang, for example).

    having said that my latest peeve is the use of “to try and … ” in place of “to try to …” as in “to try and prevent war.”

    This is meaningless drift in the language which doesn’t benefit anyone.

    • Posted October 20, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Really, “try and” is fine–just colloquial (and idiomatic) speech. What’s more, as H.W. Fowler explained long ago, there is a subtle difference between “try to” and “try and”: “the latter has a shade of meaning that justifies its existence; in exhortations it implies encouragement–the effort will succeed; in promises it implies assurance–the effort shall succeed. It is an idiom that should be not discountenanced.”

      And there’s this: “About the only thing that can be held against any of these combinations [try and, come and, be sure and] is that they seem not to be typical of high-toned writing, but clearly they are not out of place in informal and general prose. The judgment of ‘try and’ in Fowler 1926 remains eminently sensible today.“

      –Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage

      • Richard C
        Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Agree that they do have different and legitimate meanings, though of course people don’t always consider shades of meaning when they talk.

        I will try to win.
        I will try and win.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 20, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          Well, of course, the second one may have different meanings depending on whether it’s taken literally (you’re going to win) or colloquially (you’re going to try, just like the first one).

          cr

  114. Michieux
    Posted October 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    My last count – at 0458 Australian Summer Daylight Time was 479 posts for this topic. Is that a record?


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

%d bloggers like this: