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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Proper Word Use

I am not a tyrant when it comes to proper grammar (outside of my home) but there are definitely many instances of improper word use that cause me to bite my tongue. I openly admit that I, too, have been guilty of a few grammatical errors. I still, to this very day, confuse "effect" and "affect". I'm working on it.

I would like to share some of the most common errors, a few of which drive me completely insane.




Seen -vs- Saw

Any time I hear someone say, "I seen that movie," I cringe. It's actually painful to hear.

You either "have seen" that movie or you "saw" it.



Then -vs- Than

THEN is in relation to a time period. "We saw a movie then we went for ice cream."

THAN is in comparison. "His shoes are larger than mine."



Your -vs- You're

YOUR is possessive. "I like your shirt."

YOU'RE means "you are". "You're very smart."



There -vs- Their

THERE is a place or a pronoun.

"We can stop by there before returning home."

   or

"There is still a sense of longing."


THEIR is a plural possessive pronoun.

"Their dog bit the mailman."



Were -vs- We're


WERE is a past tense verb. "We were at the concert."

WE'RE means "we are." "We're busy painting the house."



Its -vs- It's

ITS shows possession. "The dog chased its tail."

IT'S means IT HAS or IT IS. "It's going to be a beautiful day!"



Past -vs- Passed

This one is tricky. I think most people confuse these every so often because they sound the same and have similar meanings.

PAST is in relation to time or space. "I have no hard feelings over events in the past."

  or

"This past weekend, we visited my aunt."


PASSED is the past tense of PASS. "He passed me the ball."



Effect -vs- Affect

Oh, these are the two I dread.

EFFECT is a noun. "The effect his words had on the audience was amazing."

AFFECT is a verb. "Using improper grammar will affect how your readers perceive you."



Loose -vs- Lose

LOOSE is usually the opposite of tight. "His pants are too loose."
However, you can also set something free: "I let the dogs loose."

LOSE is the opposite of win. "Did you lose the game?"
It's also means something lost: "I told her she would lose that ring because it was too loose on her finger."



Me -vs- I

I have been guilty of this mistake myself. I swear it was by no fault of my own. I distinctly remember my English teacher telling the class to use "I" in a sentence any time you are speaking of yourself along with other individuals.

The best way to remember which of these words is correct is to remove everyone else from the sentence and see if it still makes sense.

For instance, "Bob went to the restaurant with Jan, Susan, and I," is incorrect. You wouldn't say, "Bob went to the restaurant with I."
Therefore, the correct wording would be, "Bob went to the restaurant with Jan, Susan, and me."

Another misuse would be, "Bob and me went to the restaurant." You wouldn't say "me went", you would say "I went". "Bob and I went to the restaurant."



i.e. -vs- e.g.

i.e. means in other words.
"Those paper plates are really ghetto, i.e., very inexpensive"

e.g., means for example.
"His friend has helped a lot, e.g., loaning him money and helping him move."



All that being said, if you feel inclined to begin a sentence with the words "and' or "but", feel free. I know we were taught not to do so but it reflects our natural speech. And, I also don't have a problem ending a sentence with a preposition for that very same reason.



Please, if you ever see/hear me use improper grammar, tell me. Unless, of course, it's obvious that I'm just playing around. =)


2 comments:

Linda S. Socha said...

Fun post! Alas, I am guilty of several of things...I get lazy at time! Great to see your post.
Hope life is moving along to plan....
Linda

LGHatton said...

I am a grammar/spelling snob, too. I've noticed, however, that I've gotten a bit lazy since I've become a Facebook addict.

I have the same feelings about affect and effect. My other troublemakers are lie/lay and spoiled/spoilt.

Thank goodness for dictionary.com!
:-)