The odious double “is”

I just heard this on NPR—by someone who’s supposed to be eloquent:

“The main point is, is that. . . . “

Yes, it’s the odious “double is”. I often hear it this way: “The thing is, is that. . . “, which is similar to the phrase above.

Now you may say that language evolves, and such solecisms are in fact acceptable, but this one isn’t. It’s just WRONG, and don’t try to convince me otherwise!

As always, weigh in with your pet language peeves below. And let’s not have any Pecksniffs saying that this fun opportunity to vent ignores the evolution of language!

343 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    The speaker is improvising, not writing.

    That’s not a defense, but an explanation of the appearance of the DI.

    I agree it’s dumb and should be corrected in the speakers head.

    • Harrison
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      This seems a satisfactory explanation to me. It’s a verbal stutter, similar to the ers and ums and uhs many of use fall into.

      • Nancy Steisslinger
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        It may be a “verbal stutter” for some people but it has become a habit for many. I have known people who use the “double is” regularly. It’s clear that they are not hesitating; they just think that is the right way to talk.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Using a double is is sometimes appropriate.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        !

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        Oh, well done!

        😎

        cr

  2. allison
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I just wish people would quit saying “going viral” and “asking for a friend” 😑

    • Diane G
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Oh, the last can be quite funny!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Like this?

        • merilee
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

          !!!

        • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

          Yes! Exactly like that.

        • Diane G
          Posted August 27, 2018 at 1:55 am | Permalink

          Bingo! 😀

    • nwalsh
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      My pet peeve too.

  3. Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    A similar one is “off of”, as in “take it off of the chair”.

    “Take it off the chair” works fine.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      The use of “of” is often otiose, especially after “all,” since it’s unnecessary unless followed by a possessive pronoun. (E.g., “all the men,” but “all of us”).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, the example for possessive case should be “all of our things”.

    • enl
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      I “would of” added to this subpart, but I was unable to provide a good example of outright inappropriate use of the word, and when the word is necessary. <– (for those keeping score, there are two intentional examples here)

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Hey, you,

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_Off_of_My_Cloud

  4. Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    My peeve: “I was, like…” instead of “I said.”

    • Sarah
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Inelegant as it is, I think it may fulfil a function. “I was like” doesn’t seem to mean “I said”, but rather something like “I felt like saying” or “My feeling was”.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Or “I’m paraphrasing here …”

    • Charles Minus
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      I remember years ago when the usage was “goes,” as in “so she goes blah blah blah, and I go blah blah blah.’ I can only hope the “I’m like . . .” syndrome disappears like that one did.

    • Danny Kodicek
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      I love the quotative like. I think it’s a genuinely useful grammatical form and I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. Seriously – it’s a mystery to me why people get so bothered about it.

  5. Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Misplacement of the word ‘only’ … makes me crazy.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes. that is my bete noire, and I always try to get my friends to use it properly. It’s misused more often than it’s used correctly.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      If only you would have provided an example of incorrect use! 😉

      • Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • Janet
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        I see I’m not the only one who wished that.

        • Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Okay, here’s an incorrect use:

          “I only ate one donut.”

          • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

            That isn’t only bad grammar, it is a lie.🙂

            • Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

              Quite. It’s impossible to eat only one donut just as it is impossible to eat only one cashew nut.

          • Merilee
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

            Because you musta eaten more than one🤓

          • Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            “I only ate one donut”

            Here, it’s not only misplaced, it’s also redundant.
            One is singular.

            I ate one donut is best.

      • FB
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        If only you would have provided an example of incorrect use!

        If you only would have provided an example of incorrect use!

        If you would only have provided an example of incorrect use!

        If you would have provided only an example of incorrect use!

        If you would have provided an example only of incorrect use!

        If you would have provided an example of incorrect use only!

        I have no idea which ones are correct!

        • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          If only someone would explain the incorrect uses of “only”!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:19 am | Permalink

          Depends where you want the emphasis to go.

          cr

          • Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:46 am | Permalink

            Or more importantly what you actually mean.

            “I only ate a donut” means that of a number of possible actions, all I did was eat a donut”.

            “I ate only one donut” means that the number of donuts I ate was limited to one.

        • Alan Clark
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 5:25 am | Permalink

          If only you had provided an example of incorrect use!

          Why use the words “Would have” at all?

  6. Mark R.
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I really dislike the habit of teens shortening words. It’s a problem texting caused.

    cray for crazy
    jelly for jealous
    awks for awkward

    I have a 15-year-old niece and sometimes her convo with friends makes me cray cray.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I vaguely remember using a different set of short words when I was a kid long ago. It bothered me a little even then but, of course, I didn’t say so. The smarter ones drop this practice as they get older and desire to be understood by people other than their immediate friends. Or simply don’t want to sound stupid.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      obvs

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      And “peeps” for “people”.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        So that’s what “peeps” means.

        • Filippo
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          For every peep there is a periodic poop.

    • yazikus
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Kiddo has begun referring to the internet as ‘the in’. Pre-teen years here we come.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget “fam” for “family”. That curls the soles of my shoes.

  7. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Things like this are wrong until they aren’t. Nothing to get excited about. I used to be bothered a bit by “Zee” instead of “Zed” (caused, IMHO, by Sesame Street’s decision that the alphabet song had to end in a rhyme), and by the loss of the “ly” suffix to distinguish adverbs from adjectives, but now, decades later, I’m used to it, and so, evidently are most English speakers. Language evolves, not always for the better, but inevitably. The “ly” thing seems to be another instance of suffixes and variations of words used to distinguish context being lost in favor of simply relying on context for the specific meaning of those formerly (or should that be “former”?) variable words. It’s been happening forever. When Latin evolved into Italian a tonne of word variations were lost in that way.

    • Sarah
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      But “zee” is what Americans always say–nothing to do with Sesame Street. “Zed” is British and Commonwealth.

      • yazikus
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Similar to ‘haych’ instead of ‘aech’ for H.

        • Sarah
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          Who says that?

          • yazikus
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

            My English schoolteachers back in the day. It was a former colony, so maybe that narrows the reach?

            • Sarah
              Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

              It’s usually said by someone who knows that you should not drop h’s but they’re not sure where the h’s are. It’s a kind of over-correction that you can hear in Britain but not so much the US, where dropped h’s are not an issue.

  8. freiner
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    “Make reference to” for “refer to.” “On a daily basis” for “daily.” Etc.

  9. enl
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I have a number of pet peeves. One that I regularly hear, and see in print, “based off of”, where “based upon” is the intent.

    Another that is quite frustrating, given what I teach (math and engineering design to larval engineers– people entering a field where clear, precise communication makes the different between a profit and bankruptcy) is misuse of the word “amount”. For example, “the amount of cards in the deck”. An amount is not countable. It really does matter in for clarity.

    There are several others.

    Now get off of my grammatically correct lawn.

    • freiner
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Ah, you just reminded me of my “fewer” and “less” peeve. I find myself having fewer and fewer patience with that issue.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        My patiences have become so few they’ve impacted my teeth🤓
        HATE impact for affect and I think I saw it’s misuse in at least two major headlines in our “paper of note” today.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Didn’t your bowels become impacted, too?

        • freiner
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          “Impact” affects me that way, too. No describing the effect it has. It drives me nuts.

        • Karla
          Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, but now I have to call you out on “it’s” as possessive. (it’s misuse)

          You see, my pet peeve is incorrectly placed apostrophes.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      I’m reminded of Hitch more than once responding, “I disagree with the grammar of your question.”

    • Pierluigi Ballabeni
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Larval engineers? Are they going to pupate?

  10. Steve Pollard
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    A couple of current malapropisms that slightly irk me:

    ‘Careen’ meaning ‘run out of control’. ‘Careen’ means to pull a ship onto a beach in order to scrape its hull. The word should be ‘career’.

    ‘Hone in on’ – a misheard near-homophone of ‘home in on’.

    And I also get annoyed by people who insist that ‘splitting infinitives’ in English is ungrammatical. It isn’t.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      And, while I’m at it, the lazy cliches beloved of lazy journalists. We invariably hear of deployed troops ‘fanning out’; of problems ‘spiralling out of control’; and any slightly contentious statement being met with ‘fury. There are countless others.

      • Mark R.
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        …at the end of the day.

        • Merilee
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          At the end of the day…in the fullness of time. Sir Humphrey

          • ChrisS
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

            “Having said that, let me just say this..”

            Beloved stupidity of Australian politicians, or maybe just politicians everywhere.

            Australians also have a tendency to slur words together, so in speech we get examples like: “…and, um…” which turns into “…andumb…”

            Another thing is vocalists singing:

            “I wan’choo (to love me)”

            It’s poor diction and laziness, yet they nearly all do it.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      “Hone” means to sharpen. I think “hone in” is correct when the meaning is to focus attention.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Until relatively recently, I took it for granted that it was “hone in”, not “home in”, for the precise reason you give; and I don’t think that I’d heard the expression pronounced otherwise until well into my adulthood. Now “home in” is ubiquitous.

        • Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          “Home in” is correct according to Grammarist.com:

          https://grammarist.com/eggcorns/home-in-hone-in/

          Looks like “hone in” is also used but not by many. Can’t say I’ve ever heard it though. I’ll stick with “home in”.

          • Ken Phelps
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I’ve never heard of a honing pigeon.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

              And I’ve never heard of a “homing strop.”

    • Filippo
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . to boldly go . . . .”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:46 am | Permalink

        To boldly split infinitives no man has split before.

        (credit DNA for that)

        cr

  11. Paul Matthews
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Using “I” instead of the correct “me”, as in “He asked John and I”. It’s an absolute epidemic. I’m even starting to hear “He asked I and John”. Drives me crazy (soon we may hear “Drives I crazy”).

    • Rita
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Sarah
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Wait till you hear the whole phrase being made into a possessive: “He asked about John and I’s trip.” I have heard this construction. I don’t know how common it is.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      It bugs I, too.

      • Mark R.
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Add I to the list as well.

        • enl
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Me also find this disconcerting (since the Sesame Street references have already entered the thread)

          • Merilee
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            Cookie! cooookiiieee!

      • Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        That’s normal first person pronoun use among Rastafarians.

        • Merilee
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

          Not to mention its bugging I and I.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s what Fowler called “an educated illiteracy,” in that it’s heard more frequently from those who have been taught too well that “me” is improper when used as a subject.

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        Ah, thank you. My guess, with far from total conviction, was that the problem stemmed from the following: people learned that the colloquial “Me and John went to see him” was not good English (and should be “John and I went to see him”), but they took the correction a step too far, saying things like “He told John and I to get lost”.

        You (and Fowler) have confirmed my thinking.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that has always been my assumption. I didn’t know Fowler had already named my brilliant observation.

  12. Richard Jones
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    The one that irritates me more than any other, which is appearing more often and in more places, places where I would expect good writing.

    “It’s” is taking over from “its”. From time to time on discussion boards where it is endemic, I complain and am called a grammar Nazi (the use of Nazi here is odious) and told that auto correct does it. It does but proof reading can correct that.

    • freiner
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      My comment at 36 was supposed to go here. Its my fault.

    • enl
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      The example provided by my second grades teacher: Would you say “The dog lost it is collar”? No. Use “its”. Of course, the argument the other way is that singular possessive should have the apostrophe, and the word is showing possession by “it”. (I have been given this by a several people– all, I think,
      “rational speller” types, of whom I have had enuf\h\h\h\henough

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      That might be down to autocorrect. Let’s try. It’s. Yup. To write ‘its’ on an iPhone I have to go back and edit out the apostrophe.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Just had to do the same on my iPad.

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 2:54 am | Permalink

      My mother (over the course of four decades of teaching) developed a stock counter to it’s in this context: would you write his as hi’s?

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        No but I might write ‘he’s’ meaning ‘he is’.
        It’s a debatable point as to whether the apostrophe deserves its place amongst our punctuation marks as context is generally sufficient to tell us if we are reading a contraction (he’s talking about apostrophes) a possessive (Jonathan’s views on the apostrophe) or a plural (teachers struggle to get children to use apostrophes correctly).

  13. Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Free gift

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Just what I’ve always wanted – a free gift. And there’s more, we will double the offer and you pay the additional handling cost.

      • urthmothr
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        How about the “free gift” where you have to pay postage?

  14. Kiwi Dave
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    The superfluous ‘pre-‘, as in pre-planned and, at the supermarket, foods which are pre-packed, pre-frozen and pre-thawed. I am predisposed – oops – to dislike this usage.

    • Doug
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      Pre-arranged.

    • Alan Clark
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 5:31 am | Permalink

      Also pre-book and pre-order. You can’t post-book or post-order!

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        No, but you can “book” and “order”. Pre-ordering a book is placing your order before it is published. Once it has been published, you can just order it.

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      The term pre-packed probably arose to distinguish between the older and once more common practise of packaging goods at point of purchase. As such its perfectly correct.

  15. dogugotw
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    To is or not to is. Is it that it is nobler to is only once in sequence or is it is a construct to establish the is that is double as if it is a worthy ism of the English establishment. It is, isn’t it? Or isn’t it? I is confused and us leaving now.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Ah, we have among us a man of infinite jest. 🙂

  16. alexandra Moffat
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    mis use of “I” VS “me”….using it as a subject when it should be an object.

    Oooops, I just saw above- I agree – it is infuriating. Epidemic is the right word. Don’t they read ? It’s not hard to figure out. Didn’t they have English teachers-ever?

    Also: “close, personal friend”.

    Many in the media should return to school, they are often guilty of ignorant English usage.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      I think the “rule” is to put a common between coordinate (but not cumulative) adjectives — adjectives, that is, that each modify the following noun individually. A good test is whether you can also separate the adjectives with “and.”

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        “… put a comma …” Yeesh.

  17. Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    My bete noir is ‘outside of’ as in ‘outside of America’ as opposed to ‘outside America’

    • freiner
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Increasingly, the problem is what’s happening inside America.

  18. Drew F
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    What Paul Matthews said: writing/saying “I” instead of “me”. I don’t know exactly what the grammatical term is, but I think there’s a grammar rule about that. I think that rule is taught during 5th or 6th grade.

  19. Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    It all depends on what the meaning of is is.

    BTW, if you tell a millennial to watch his grammar and he goes to his grandmother’s house.

  20. Barry Lyons
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    The double “is” has annoyed me for YEARS!

    But you know what has annoyed me for far longer? I will tell you: the stupid and ugly word “gubernatorial”! I don’t want to hear a word about its Latin roots because nobody is the gubernor of a state! My logic is impeccable and cannot be denied: senator, senatorial race; governor, governorial race.

    I’d like to start a revolution, but don’t know where to begin. But whether it’s The New York Times, or The Washington Post, or The New Yorker, or The Atlantic, some writer somewhere has to be the first to write “governorial” in a piece. Who will it be? I continue to wait.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      In some states, describing it as a “goobernatorial race” is appropriate.

      • Barry Lyons
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        Nice.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Georgia?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      But you know what has annoyed me for far longer?

      Rhetorical questions? 🙂

      And only a goober would say “governorial.” (I kid again!)

  21. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    – “Listen, [states opinion]”: I *am* listening. Or not, now that you annoyed me.

    – “Leverage”: Use.

  22. Tim
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    “The reason is because…”

    • freiner
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Yes!

  23. Ken Phelps
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    “Should of” instead of “should have”.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      “Should of” is an illiterate barbarism. If you’re using slang, go with “shoulda”; if not, it’s “should’ve.”

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        My suspicion has been that the it started as a mishearing of “should’ve”.
        A cousin of “wala” for “voila”, another marker of barbarism, illiteracy, and Trump voting.

        • desonhecido
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Voila? I prefer the cello. I though of saying, I prefer the Jello, but that would be silly.

          Peeve? “have got.”

          As in:

          I’ve got to get a new cell phone.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:01 am | Permalink

          Yes, I would agree, I’m sure ‘should of’ started as ‘should’ve’.

          ‘could of’ similarly.

          Now try placing the apostrophes correctly in shouldn’t’ve 😉

          Now here’s a conundrum – what’s the correct past tense of ‘ought to’ ? ‘Ought to have’? Certainly not ‘ought of’.

          cr

  24. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    One that bugs me is – So. When asked a question or to explain, the person starts the answer with So.

    Where does that come from? So, we think it began…. No you don’t, just we.

    • enl
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      I deal with this one a lot. Some students get the point, others don’t. “So” indicates result or conclusion. It is a connecting word. If there is no connection being made, the word is inappropriate.

      “So I went to the store”. Huh?

      “I ran out of beer, so I went to the store”. Better. Grammatically correct, but rhetorically questionable.

      “I ran out of beer, so I went to the store to buy a six pack”. That’s the ticket.

      • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        To my ear, these are all the same correct sentence using different levels of abbreviation. The shorter ones assume that the listener supplies the missing pieces. “So I went to the store” assumes the listener understands that beer is what is to be obtained. The rest comes along naturally as one goes to a store to buy beer, often in six-pack units. This is even more obvious, if the conversants had just finished a six-pack. Burp!

        • enl
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          In common use, the initial “so” tends to be used arbitrarily, with no common referent, and without explicit or implied continuance.

          The first case, without context, is abhorrent.

          The second case is fine grammatically, but leaves the conclusion open. You ran out of beer, so you went to the store to get a condolence card? Plausible, but not likely. If I were evaluating this, that would be my question.

          The third case provides a conclusion. It leaves no open question. It does lead to other questions, of course, such as “Did you actually get a six pack?” (maybe it was 3am), “What kind of beer?”, and “May I have one?” being at the top of the list.

          I have sat through presenters at conferences where nearly every sentence began with “so”, including the introduction: “So I’m Frank Farkle. So I’m going to tell you about the latest advances in turbo-encabulation options for the pseudo-knot inverse-transposition unit of your 2018SUX+ sequencer. So the newest features are….”

          • Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            “I ran out of beer, so I went to the store”. Seems like “so” is introducing the “I went to the store” conclusion. I’m no grammarian but it sounds right to my ear. What am I missing?

            • enl
              Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

              You are missing nothing there. The grammar is correct.

              It is the rhetorical aspect that falls short, in presenting, but not addressing, the relationship between the lack of beer and going to the store. The “so” implies that going to the store is to address the lack of beer, but HOW is left open. (this presumes that the statements as given are intended to stand alone)

              In scientific/technical/expository communication, this is poor practice. In literature, it is also poor practice, unless used as a literary device.

          • urthmothr
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            Maybe that was a local colloquialism? I grew up where y’all literally meant “all of you,” not one person. And “Ain’t” meant I am not, not “you are not.” Here in Iowa, I’m getting used to hearing a server ask, “do you want anything else, at all?” It confuses my husband, who is hard-of-hearing, because the end of the sentence doesn’t make sense.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            Used colloquially, “so” can give the start of a sentence an in medias res feel — like a guy with a briefcase dashing onto the subway just as the doors close looking around the car and saying “So, who thought I’d make it?” 🙂

      • Filippo
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        From my own experience, in response to a clear statement or question from me, not a few (male) students say, “Wait.” I respond, “No.”

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

          Wait, wut?

  25. kelskye
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I occasionally get caught on a double is. I feel it’s wrong, but not so wrong that it needs to be eliminated. It’s the natural consequence of the use of is.

    Over the years, I’ve come to see you as really being inadequate to express the subject, and occasionally drop an y’all to eliminate that ambiguity – which is linguistically quite out of place in Australia.

  26. ejfinneranjr
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    It is as bad as “irregardless.”

  27. Barry Lyons
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    “Where do you work at?” It’s a modern affectation to add that annoying “at”. It’s never necessary. “Where do you work?” and “Where do you live?” function just fine without it.

    • desonhecido
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of a joke. The punchline is:

      Where’s the library at, asshole?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        It’s in a place where they know better than to end a sentence with a preposition? 🙂

    • Filippo
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      I used to work at a restaurant, and would occasionally hear one server say to another, “What are you doing [say] Friday night?” (Instead of simply asking, “Would you work for me Friday night?”) Which is to say, the person asking the question knows the other is off Friday night, and wants the other to work for him/her Friday night. The “asker” is seeking to determine if the other is doing something more worthwhile than working for the asker. (What could be more worthwhile than working for the asker?) Of course, it’s none of the asker’s bloody business what the other is doing. If the other wants to do nothing that night, that is the other’s prerogative.

  28. Merilee
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    The thing is, is that is is drives me NUTZ!
    Even our usually eloquent Prez Obama fell into it on occasion🙀

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Obama did it frequently. It was grating.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Thank god you replaced him with with someone so eloquent.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        😤

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        You mean President BestWords?

  29. Merilee
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    ✔️✔️

  30. Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    As a geophysicist I am annoyed by the misuse of “epicentre” (or epicenter in the USA). Epicentre refers to the point on the Earth’s surface above the focus of an earthquake and not the actual focus or centre.

    • Janet
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I did not know that, thank you!

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

        Epi: ‘above’ as in epigenetics 😊

    • gscott
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear! (not to be confused with ‘here, here’)

      – another annoyed geophysicist

  31. Laurance
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    AAAACKKKK!!! I hate it when people misuse “beg the question. This is something I hear so often, including from people who ought to know better, that on the very rare occasion when I hear it used correctly, I wince.

    • lwgreen1
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      I have never heard “begs the question” used correctly on a TV news program. The offenders never use it to mean a logical fallacy, but as if it means “raises the question.” I suspect the meaning will be adjusted to include that at some point. I don’t let it get to me anymore. I’ve mellowed in my old age. But I do mentally note it when I hear it used incorrectly.

      • Laurance
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        My age is plenty old, but I haven’t mellowed yet. I fear that “begs the question” instead of “raises the question” is becoming acceptable these days. I hear it *so* often. “Raises the question” is becoming rare. “Begs the question” is what I hear most of the time.

        Some time ago I was listening to Christopher Hitchens on Youtube. He used “begs the question” correctly (of course). Even so, I cringed.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        I fear that the level of discourse in our countries is so far removed from an understanding of logical fallacies that you might as well just toss out the mental note pad. I have occasionally attempted to explain the concept, and have been greeted with looks of such pity that I just gave up.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

        I don’mind it being used as ‘raises the question’, It feels good others are ignorant of its (it’s) meaning (for once I know something) and hence it gives me satisfaction to use it correctly…

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for raising the question about “begs the question.”

      • Laurance
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Oooohhh, and thank you, thank you for bringing back that now obsolete phrase, “raising the question.”

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      I think ‘begging the question’ is a lost cause as far as reestablishing it as a term to describe a logical fallacy. Its use to denote ‘raises the question’ is so widespread and ingrained that we may be better off to simply accept that that is what it now means.

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        I believe “begs the question” is stronger than “raises the question”. The former is an accusation whereas the latter is more observation. Also, this use doesn’t have to replace its logical fallacy meaning. Lots of phrases have multiple meanings that depend on context. The logicians can still have their cake!

        • Posted August 28, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          The way I see it the problem is that people are *really* bad at learning stipulative definitions and so to learn one more is an exercise in frustration. Logic instructors already fight with people’s non-stipulative understanding of “valid” quite a lot.

          • Posted August 28, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            Sure but logicians have decided, evidently, that introducing a new word for their “valid” concept would be much worse.

  32. KD33
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    “The-game-of-basketball.” It’s just… basketball!

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      There are contexts in which the longer phrase may make sense, perhaps to differentiate it from, say, “the business of basketball”.

  33. Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s a simple fix. Use an adjective. “The important thing is…”

  34. Dave
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I hate the now almost routine use of “amount” rather than “number” to refer to quantities of discrete, countable objects. I want to throw something at the TV whenever I hear about an “amount of people” doing something.

  35. yazikus
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    When I was in fifth grade, I found myself saying ‘like’ far more often than I liked. I decided to substitute it with something more cumbersome to train myself out of the habit. After much pondering, I decided ‘it would be as it’ would do the trick. Curious whether that would irk anyone ’round these parts.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Stick “as it were” or “so to speak” or “per se” in there instead, and you’d sound as smart as William F. Buckley, Jr. 🙂

      • Diane G
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        “Indeed.”

        • Merilee
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          As ‘twere might sound even fancy-pantsier

      • Merilee
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        My cute 4’8”-ish Hong Kong-born yoga teacher will sometimes say “per se” when she means “like this”. She has an excuse.

  36. freiner
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    On the printed page (especially with edited text) the its/it’s confusion is maddening. It’s not as irritating in speech.

    • freiner
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Oops. This was supposed to follow 12 above.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      How ’bout “there,” “their,” and “they’re” — irritating in speech? 🙂

      • freiner
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Well, it depends on the context. Whose speaking?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          I dunno, how do you tell ’em apart?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

            I mean, how do you tell “it’s” from “its” or “there” from “their” in speech? Don’t they sound identical?

            • Merilee
              Posted August 26, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

              Just thought of another annoyance: “deep dive” and “dive deeply” used way too frequently by newscasters.

  37. Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Another peeve, now that I’m thinking about this: “try and” instead of “try to,” as in, “I’ll try and get that done today” instead of “I’ll try to get that done today.”

  38. JB
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “Which, look’d on as it is, is nought but shadows
    Of what it is not. Then, thrice-gracious queen,
    More than your lord’s departure weep not: more’s not seen;
    Or if it be, ’tis with false sorrow’s eye,
    Which for things true weeps things imaginary.”

    — William Shakespeare, “The Life and Death of Richard the Second”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Who died and made him such an big expert? 🙂

      • JB
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        The question is, “is it necessary that someone dies?”

        I’m here all week, folks!

  39. Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Here’s one I just remembered: the odious “on the ground”, like “here are the facts on the ground.” As opposed to the facts in the air or underwater?

    And “boots on the ground” is a trite word for “troops” or “soldiers.”

    “Sea change” irks me too.

    • yazikus
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      “Boots on the ground” reminds me of a common prayer that bothered my mother. During grace, the person praying would often thank or bless ‘the hands that made the meal’ rather than the person (my mother).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        On think both constitute instances of “synechdoche” (or maybe “metonymy,” I’m forever confusing those two 🙂 ).

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          “I think …”

        • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          I confuse it with Schenectady.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman used precisely that wordplay in his directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York.

        • freiner
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          I’ve been to synechdoche — big connection between it and General Electric. Time was to say “synecdoche” was the same as to say “GE.” Wait, I’ve got something wrong here…

        • Mark R.
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          I should have been a pair of ragged claws
          Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

          My favorite synechdoche…

        • Merilee
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          I mix those two up, too, but did you see “Synechdoche New York”?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I love Charlie Kaufman — Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, et al.

            And, although I thought the movie was a bit rambling, a great performance in Synecdoche by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Sea change? Used beautifully by Shakespeare, but it is often used hyperbolically.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        I think the Bard himself used it hyperbolically (or at least metaphorically for emphasis) in The Tempest.

        I’ve used it once or twice in legal briefs, when objecting that the ruling sought by the opposing party “would work a sea change in the law.”

        I kinda like it, but then I’m a sucker for nautical metaphor.

        • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I like it too. Especially when used effectively, like your “sea change in the law.”

        • Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

          There is nothing wrong with ‘Boots on the ground’, ‘sea change’ or similar expressions in and of themselves. When first used they were vivid ways of conveying an idea through suggestive language. The problem is that people are lazy and just re-use the same metaphors and other figures of speech until they have become tired and cliched.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      There are undoubtedly incorrect uses of those phrases but they do have correct uses, IMHO. “On the ground” is opposed to the numskull generals at headquarters. Similarly, “boots on the ground” may refer to requiring more “troops” to solve a problem, rather than a new strategy or tactic. “Sea change” is from the age of sail, I suspect, as is “square meal” and many other common phrases. In current usage, it refers to a big change in perspective affecting an entire field or subject.

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        When did it change from numbskull?

        • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know. I never thought about it. I just checked the Merriam-Webster site and they list “numskull” as an alternate spelling of “numbskull”. Also, Chrome’s spelling checker didn’t complain when I wrote it. Now I am in a quandary. Do I change my behavior or not?

    • Filippo
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      “Signal” irks me. As in a NY Times article, where the reporter states that a statement or action (generally by some government official) “signals” an intention to do something. How does the reporter know this?Is the reporter a mind reader?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

        Or, maybe, a semiotician (or semaphorist). 🙂

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      Speaking of that, a troop is a group, not a single person.

  40. grasshopper
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    And I don’t like people who say “and” five times in a row.

    I painted a sign for the owner of a fish and chip shop, but he didn’t like it. He said that the space between “fish” and “and”, and “and” and “chips”, was not evenly spaced.

    He probably hated my punctuation, too.

  41. freiner
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Then there’s the quadruple “is” to deal with. As in: The problem with “is, is” is, is what?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of the one about the grammatical sentence with 11 “had”s in a row — the one about the grammar exam on the use of “had” vs. “had had”:

      John where Jim had had “had,” had had “had had”; “had had” had had the teacher’s approval.

      • freiner
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        Wonderful! (Though I also get the feeling I’ve been had (or I had had that feeling).)

      • grasshopper
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        You have given me a haddock.

        • Diane G
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          😀

        • Merilee
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          Not an halibut?

          • grasshopper
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            Speak up! I am a little deaf and need a herring aid.

            • Merilee
              Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

              🤓

      • desonhecido
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Sort of like “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” which has its own entry in the permanent repository of all important knowledge.

      • Filippo
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        I’m reminded of the apocryphal U.S. Navy Lieutenant JG (junior grade) J.G. Lee.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:23 am | Permalink

        That sentence relies heavily on punctuation to make sense. Incidentally, I think it needs a comma after ‘John’ to make ‘where Jim had had “had”‘ properly parenthetical.

        cr

  42. Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    The use of “anxious” when the speaker or writer means “eager” rather than the historically and traditionally (mid-20th century, at least) correct “fearful.” Repeated incorrect use of this word is making it essential that the word be interpreted in context. Example: “I’m anxious to go to school tomorrow.” To me, the speaker means “fearful” but to many the speaker means “eager.” Saying “I’m anxious to go to school tomorrow” knowing that the student is not prepared for something like a test makes sense, but when “anxious” means “eager” to the reader or listener, not so much.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I think that one’s of a piece with the use of “anticipate” in place of “expect.” I try to reserve “anticipate” for instances where some action has been taken in advance of an expected event.

    • Merilee
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      And nauseous for nauseating…
      Nauseous means inducing nausea, not suffering from it.

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:10 am | Permalink

        From Merriam-Webster:

        “nauseous vs. nauseated
        Those who insist that nauseous can properly be used only to mean “causing nausea” and that its later “affected with nausea” meaning is an error for nauseated are mistaken. Current evidence shows these facts: nauseous is most frequently used to mean physically affected with nausea, usually after a linking verb such as feel or become; figurative use is quite a bit less frequent. Use of nauseous to mean “causing nausea or disgust” is much more often figurative than literal, and this use appears to be losing ground to nauseating. Nauseated is used more widely than nauseous when referring to being affected with nausea.”

        I use nauseous and nauseated equivocally with nauseating meaning causing these conditions.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:28 am | Permalink

      And the younger generation using ‘sick’ to mean ‘good’.
      (Also, ‘bad’ to mean ‘good’, though this is maybe of older date.
      Umm, ‘Good girls go to heaven; bad girls go everywhere’ 😉

      cr

  43. Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I love the superflous pronoun, as in “The Attorney General, he went to the office. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC must get paid by the word!

  44. mordacious1
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Never use “is” back to back, unless you’re a terrorist.
    ISIS

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Good one!

      • grasshopper
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 3:26 am | Permalink

        Indeed! 🙂

    • harrync
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Well, there are other times you just have to use the double “is” – as when you ask “what the meaning of ‘is’, is?”

      • Mark R.
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

        The definition of ‘is’ is confounding.

  45. Barb
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Hail Grammar Police!

    This is a pleasure. First, why do people say “Artic”? It’s Arctic. I have heard scientists, meteorologists, etc. mispronounce that word.
    How about,”like I said”? It should be “as”.
    Also, the proof is not “in the pudding”- the proof of the taste is… Or, I have a “pit in my stomach” It is I have a … in the pit of my stomach!

    There are so many, many more!

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Google’s dictionary seems to allow both pronunciations:

      ˈärktik,ˈärdik

      It is hard to pronounce the “c” and “t” separately without slowing one’s speech down unnecessarily.

      “Having a pit in my stomach” is just wrong, as you say.

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Well, bugger google’s dictionary.

        Hearing artic and anardica just pisses me off.

        It’s lazy diction, pure and simple.

    • mfdempsey1946
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      So many more indeed.

      Two that make me cringe are “Febyooary” and “joolery.”

      I once saw “joolery” in an expensive-looking sign that advertised an upscale Los Angeles jewelry store and must have heard these two mispronunciations thousands of times during my doubtless misspent life.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      The like/as preposition/conjunction distinction seems to be honored more in the breach than in the observance these days. (The mnemonic I use is that if it’s followed by a clause — a noun or pronoun plus a verb — use “as.”)

      I think it’s fine to use “like” in place of “as” in casual speech and writing, but it grates a bit in a formal setting.

    • desonhecido
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      True that.

      Worse still is saying that you feel like something or the other when what is meant is that you are of some opinion.

      example:

      “I feel like Trump is an idiot.”

      I always want to ask what that feels like.

      Or, perhaps, what that feels as.

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Usually people say, “I think Trump is an idiot.” but if the reaction is more visceral, perhaps “feel” is more appropriate, though in that case they could have said:

        I feel Trump is an idiot.

        • merilee
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          How ’bout I know Trump is a idiot?

    • Merilee
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      My parents brought a hat back from Antarctica which said Antartica thereupon🙀
      One positive note: if you try to post something twice on WordPress the message says “It looks AS THOUGH you’ve already said that”, instead of LIKE.

    • Merilee Olson
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      ❗️

      Typo ergo sum Merilee

      >

    • Filippo
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      In the U.K. it is “A-MY-no” acid. (So I’ve heard Dawkins say.) In the U.S. it is “A-MEE-no” acid.

      “You say PO-TAY-toe, I say PO-TAH-toe . . . .”

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        As long as you don’t misspell it like Dan Quayle (or “as Dan Quayle did,” if we’re gonna be all formal about it). 🙂

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:33 am | Permalink

        Yes but that’s just a pronunciation thing, not a grammar/spelling thing.

        I could raise ‘noocular’ as another.

        But we do have serious disgreements over color/colour et al, and aluminum/aluminium.

        cr

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          Blame Webster!

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        Well, if Dawkins said that he is in a small minority, even in the UK. It was “a-mee-no” when I first heard the word in 1st year Chemistry over 50 years ago, and still is. After all, surely R-NH2 is an a-meen on both sides of the pond, and not an a-myne?

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        My experience going through British schools and university (and over subsequent decades) has always been that it is generally pronounced A-MEE-No acid.

    • enl
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      The “artic” case sets me off as if I were riding a George W Bush approved nuke-you-ler bomb. (well, someone had to go there…)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:34 am | Permalink

        Bingo!

        Should’ve read your comment before I posted mine (above) 😉

        • vtvita
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

          Ohh… that was a good laugh.

  46. gscott
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    How about ‘going forward’? Nobody ever used this phrase 5 or 10 years ago. (It reminds me of ‘at this juncture in time’.)

    And the constant abuse of ‘myself’ where ‘I’ or ‘me’ would be correct gets my metaphorical goat.

    • freiner
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Ditto. (Ditto.) Ditto.

    • Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget Bush’s nook-you-lurr for “nuclear”.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        I think even Jimmy Carter said nookular, and he was a nuclear engineer.

        • urthmothr
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

          I think that’s a Southern accent. I’ve had to fight mine all my life. For instance,saying “snayul” instead of “snail.”

          • Filippo
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

            “Juheeyt yit? Yont tu?” (Re: Jeff Foxworthy. “Did you eat yet? (And if not) “Do you want to?”

            • urthmothr
              Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

              I like to tell about going to the Kentucky Derby racetrack. The waitress asked whether I wanted some “pah.” I got her to repeat it twice before I realized she was offering me what I call “pah-ee” (pie).

              • vtvita
                Posted August 26, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

                Too funny!

            • Merilee
              Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

              Did you do (anything) yet bugs me. Should be “have you done”…

          • Merilee
            Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            How about oil?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      I love the quote from the great sportswriter of a couple generations back, Red Smith:

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

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Yes, I was going to mention the misuse of ‘myself’. It is often associated with an effort to seem more important “If you have any queries myself and my team will be happy to assist you”.

      • Merilee
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Makes myself wanna barf.

  47. SusanD
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Using “laying” and “laid” instead of “lying” and “lay”;
    “Decimated” instead of “destroyed”;
    “Infer” instead of “imply” (the speaker implies, the listener infers);
    “Rooves” instead of “roofs”;
    “Amount” instead of “quantity”;
    “Less” instead of “fewer”;
    “Interned” instead of “interred”;
    just a few…

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      … “disinterested” instead of “uninterested”;
      “adventitious” instead of “advantageous”
      “fortuitous” instead of “lucky”; …

      • Diane G
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        Where’s “serendipitous” when you need it?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I think “serendipity” is a great and underused word.

  48. Scott
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    My pet peeve is the use of “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less” to describe something one does not care about. If one “could care less” about a subject, then they do care about the subject to some degree, and it is certainly not true that they “couldn’t care less” about it. 🙂

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      You should ask your president about that, He might have some interesting insights there.

  49. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if it’s ungrammatical, but I get a bee in my bonnet whenever I hear “to not” instead of “not to” — as in “I’ve decided to not go…” rather than “I”ve decided not to go…” Yet the latter construction prevails these days.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for using “bee in my bonnet,” Jenny.

      For me, it has the wonderful feel of something said by someone wearing a petticoat. 🙂

      Or a They Might Be Giants song.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        Or “There’s a Bee in My Bonnet, Hello!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xskK1w-tREQ.

        I realize that it’s both de trop and hokey, but Molly Bee should be singing harmony with They Might Be Giants on that song.

  50. barn owl
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Grammatical errors are present in abundance on the social media site Nextdoor. The one that’s currently eliciting plate tectonics amongst the bones of my skull is the resurgence of the grocer’s apostrophe.

    “Three cute kitty’s ready for adoption.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      I dislike the apostrophe people sometimes put in decades. It’s “the 1960s”; the “1960’s” makes no sense unless your referring to something that belongs to 1960 (as in “1960’s presidential election”).

      • Diane G
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Although that used to be a standard in many style books.

        (I.e., cut me a break if you see me using it…)

        • Diane G
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          By which I mean, of course, either “cut me some slack” or “give me a break.”

          Fucking karma…

  51. Vaal
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone noticed, or is anyone else disturbed by, the prevalence of substituting

    “I feel like….”

    for:

    “I think that…”

    So…instead of:

    “I think that it would be best if we raised the drinking age”

    We get:

    “I FEEL LIKE it would be good if we raised the drinking age.”

    The substitution of “I feel like” for “I think that” is now so pervasive I am hearing it even become common in some philosophy podcasts, where you’d think people are supposed to speak with conceptual clarity. So we get “I FEEL LIKE the case for abortion is stronger than the case against” or whatever.

    I don’t know if this is some encroachment of a squish-feely post-fact milieu, were feelings are facts , but it’s irritating me nonetheless.

    • Merilee
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Yes❗️

  52. Katkinkate
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    I read a lot of fan fiction, ie. lots of amateur writers, and my pet peeves are:
    1. using ‘drug’ as the past tense of drag (He drug his bag across the floor); 2. using weary for wary (although I think that might be a spell check problem); 3. I’m sure there was … oh yeah, when they use the wrong there. I’ve read stories by people for whom English is a second (or third) language, and I’ll put up with a lot of wrong words and clumsy grammar from them, but it is jarring.

  53. Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    ‘Nucular’ is not so good.

    https://tinyurl.com/necqxd4

  54. Howard S. Neufeld
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. But what is your opinion of “data”? Plural or singular or both?
    Seems language is moving to treat it as singular, although the statistical societies continue to use it in the plural.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Jerry’s a stickler on “data” and “media” taking plural verbs. I try to follow that practice myself, but think we’re fighting a losing battle, that they’ve crossed the Rubicon on the route to becoming “collective” nouns, like “team” and “swarm” and “pack.”

      • Diane G
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        Or, we could do what the NYT did with millennia and just go with “datums” and “mediums.” (I think we already have “curriculums.”)

        • Merilee
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

          The Globe and Mail had a grammar quiz today which the devil made me take. I got one wrong because I said that curriculums was wrong and should be curricula.

          • Diane G
            Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:49 am | Permalink

            That’s wrong, dammit!

            Meanwhile, it’s almost time to plant the chrysanthema.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted August 26, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

              I recall when Belushi & Aykroyd did a skit on SNL as a pair of Elvis imitators — Fat Elvis & Skinny Elvis — and called themselves “The Elvi.” 🙂

              • Diane G
                Posted August 27, 2018 at 1:48 am | Permalink

                😀

            • Merilee
              Posted August 26, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

              LOL🌸

        • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          Interestingly, the dictionary does prefer “mediums” for the plural of one definition:

          mediums : an individual held to be a channel of communication between the earthly world and a world of spirits

          • Diane G
            Posted August 27, 2018 at 2:04 am | Permalink

            I never thought of that def but now that I do, yeah, I’d never think to refer to them as media, either.

            So many rules, so many exceptions!

      • Merilee
        Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

        Today I read “she is an alumni” in the program book for TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival…

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted August 25, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

          Multiple personality disorder, we presume?

        • Diane G
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:43 am | Permalink

          She contains multitudes…

          • Merilee
            Posted August 26, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

            +1

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

          She’s a great bunch of gals …

          • Merilee
            Posted August 26, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

            +1
            Wish I could remember who she were😬

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:58 am | Permalink

        On the other hand I find it irritating when ‘the government’, ‘the company’, ‘the city council’ and such bodies assume a plural persona in sentences such as ‘the government are considering new laws on grammar’. The government is a singular entity and it should be ‘the government IS…’.

        If you insist on using the plural then you need to refer to the individuals who form the government rather than the government itself: e.g. ‘ministers are considering abolishing grammatical rules’.

        • Merilee
          Posted August 26, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          I though that the government “are” was de riguer in British English??

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Certainly we don’t read or hear “datum” very often. I don’t think it’s a matter of avoidance. The context in which it makes sense just never arises.

      I suspect people are becoming less familiar with the -a ending to signify a plural (Greek? Latin?), though it is well known to scientists and its singular form is just not needed.

  55. James Walker
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    There’s been some work on “ISIS” in linguistics which suggests that it’s not simply a disfluency or performance error but a consequence of placing “is”, which normally has weak stress, into a position of prominence: http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2013/09/17/double_is_why_linguists_think_we_sometimes_double_up_on_is_in_a_setup_payoff.html

  56. Tony Dodson
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Pet peeve – ‘off of’ when ‘off’ will simply do.

  57. melgardner1944
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    “Steep learning curve” If “learning curve” means a graph with time on the horizontal axis and some measure of progress on the vertical axis then a steep curve is one where much progress is made over a short time. This seems desirable (Summertime, and the learnin’ is easy). I suspect this is a subconscious confusion with the metaphor of climbing a steep mountain but I may be missing an interpretation that makes sense of the phrase.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      No, they’ve heard the jargon term ‘learning curve’ and got the meaning exactly backwards.

      ‘Steep learning curve’ should mean it’s feasible to learn a lot, quickly. But people using it seem to think it means the opposite.

      cr

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      Yes, I noted that too, not really irritating, but silly.

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      It’s not necessarily incorrect. If it is a graph of how much I am expected to learn within a short period of time its steepness is indeed a measure of how challenging the task ahead is. If it is a graph of my actual performance the steepness of the curve may indicate either that the material is easily learned or that I am a quick learner.

      • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        I always thought that “steep” was really referring to the virtual hill one has to climb to learn it. Still wrong though.

  58. Robert van Bakel
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    The ‘off of’, annoys the hell out of me too. Here’s a grammatical curiosity from Stephen Fry I believe.

    The sign says ‘Tom’s Hats and Coats’.
    Tom’s not happy with the sign and complains to the painter:
    “The spaces between ‘Hats’ and ‘and’, and ‘and’ and ‘Coats’, are too close.”

  59. Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    It depends on what the meaning of is is is is.

  60. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I am irritated by people who make a statement with a verb in the future tense and then add ‘into for future’ or ‘going forward’.
    In addition most people should be banned from using apostrophes since that seem to think that is there is a letter s, there must be an apostrophe before or after it!

  61. Daniel P Aurand
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    What drives me nuts are those that utter a deliberate pun followed by “no pun intended” when it is patently obvious that the pun was in fact intended. It’s as if they need to say it in order to make sure that their brilliant pun didn’t go over your head which is downright insulting since the pun is the lowest form of wit.

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Even more irritating when the comment they are referring to does not even contain a pun (which I find happens surprisingly often).

    • Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Just to be persnickety, “No pun intended” may mean that the speaker recognizes that their phrase can be interpreted as a pun but is asking the audience not to interpret it as such. Of course, this is asking a lot as the speaker has just drawn attention to the very thing. Just like “Please ignore the man behind the curtain.”

  62. Raúl
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you completely. Here are some of my teeth-gritting examples:

    1. There’s two things happening.
    2. Multiple misuse and overuse of “up” and “out”

    Enough said.

  63. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    What makes me scream at the TV screen is the habit of reporters/newsreaders to use the present participle instead of a verb. That is, the ‘-ing’ form.

    e.g. “Fires burning out of control. Police warning drivers to proceed with caution”.

    And what I scream ironically at my TV screen is “Where the fucking verb in that sentence, you utter moron???” (I ironically/sarcastically omit the ‘is’)

    I notice that people being interviewed don’t commit that crime, not even the most unlettered street passers-by. Nor does anybody do it in writing. But it’s widespread and almost the rule among reporters who really ought to know better.

    cr

  64. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    I do not have much of a problem with the double ‘is’, at least not in spoken language (I’m not completely devoid of interest here, since I’m sure I’ve used it). After all, Isis was an Egyptian Goddess’
    I do have a beef with ‘eksetera’ (for etcetera) though.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      “(I’m not completely devoid of interest here, since I’m sure I’ve used it),”

      So, Cicero pro domo sua?

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted August 26, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Ah, Clodius Pulcher. that nasty one. Yes, of course, nowadays we call it ‘disclosure’. 😊

  65. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    I’m sure I posted this before, but the usage of acronyms followed by the word for which the last letter stands.

    Today, a mechanic was looking as my car and wanted to get the “VIN number” which is effectively the
    “Vehicle Identification Number Number”

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 3:26 am | Permalink

      The reason for that is he assumes no typical customer knows nor cares what any given vehicle acronym means. So calling it a VIN number helps the customer learn they are looking for a number.

  66. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    A rather interesting punctuation exercise is to punctuate this group of words.

    THAT THAT IS IS THAT THAT IS NOT IS NOT IS NOT THAT IT IT IS.

    The solution is:
    “That, that is, is.
    That, that is not, is not.
    Is not that it?
    It is.”

  67. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    Nobody yet?

    “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.“
    -Bill Clinton

    Source :

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Bill_Clinton

    ^^^worth looking at for Clinton’s elaboration on “is”.

    • Posted August 28, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Clinton is correct in one way – there are at least 4 meanings of “is” in English. This was irrelevant to the topic under discussion, however.

  68. Brian Salkas
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    I hate the double that. “I heard that, that guy over there.”.. I know that that type of constructiion is not incorrect, but I think that that way of speaking is ugly! Just drop the optional first that and everything is better.
    Fun fact:
    The germans can actually create tripple ‘das’ sentances in a similar way.
    “Ich habe gehoert dass das das Auto fahrendes Kind erst 17 Jahre alt ist.” Stupid example, but they can indeed talk that way.

  69. Posted August 26, 2018 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Of course, is is is sometimes correct, but few people seem to know when it is that is is is.

  70. Reggie Cormack
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Something I find continually annoying on the BBC radio morning news programme, “Today”, is the use employed by every interviewer the words “Good morning, to you” to every introduced interviewee. This has been going on for some time now. What is wrong with just, “Good morning”? It makes me grind my teeth every time.

  71. Posted August 26, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Reading through all the comments, the dangling participle is an omission.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      ISWYDT.

      From the comments, I see that using squinting modifiers frequently hinders one’s writing.

  72. Posted August 26, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I was at a conference all week and I lost track of the number of times I heard people misuse the phrase “beg the question” for “invite the question.” Clearly, this is a losing battle, but it still grates on my ears.

  73. Posted August 26, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    My current peeve is with the phrase “to try and solve a problem (or whatever).” The correct phrase would be “to try to solve …” I think what happens is in speech we tend to shorten words to monosyllables and we get “to try ‘n’ solve the problem” with the ‘n’ ending up expanding back out to “and.” The classic case is in British English where “isn’t it” which is a shortened version of “is it not” has devolved into “init.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      I use “try to” (except in certain idiomatic phrases like “Oh, yeah, try and make me!”), but I believe “try and” is pretty well established, especially in British English. I recall that C. Hitchens used it repeatedly in Hitch-22.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Regardless, FWIW, I hate that too.

  74. Steven Pounders
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    The double-is made it’s way into popular use through the media.
    What the reason is is that that had had to to catch on.

  75. Posted August 26, 2018 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I think that I’ve found myself writing “had had” on a couple of occasions and then having to reconstruct the sentence.
    I cannot recall the contexts.

    • Merilee
      Posted August 26, 2018 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      She had had a lot of friends before she turned evangelical?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      “Had had” is no more wrong that “had been” or “had gone” or any other form of the past perfect tense.

      • Diane G
        Posted August 27, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        + 1

  76. Danny Kodicek
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    My daughter does this all the time, and although it’s annoying I can absolutely see how the usage evolved: it’s an extension of similar, perfectly grammatical sentences like:

    “What it is is…”
    “What my point is is that…”

    etc.
    I think what’s happened is that in “The thing is is”, the words “thing is” have become glommed together as a single noun, “the thing-is”. I could easily imagine in a century’s time, this could evolve into an acceptable grammatical form, an -is ending that is customarily attached to nouns in these kinds of sentence.

  77. wiseape108
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Silent letters. What’s the point?

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 27, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Yep, when Apoptosis (cell death) became the rage in biomedical research, there were two camps on how it was pronounced – those who pronounced it like it was spelled, and the pretentious camp who insisted that it was apo-tosis, since it was from some Greek root with a silent P. I think the normal camp won, but I’d be happy for confirmation.

  78. Hempenstein
    Posted August 27, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    If restated as “The main point is whether…” is that OK? To me it says the same thing.


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