Friday, December 01, 2006

Grammar check

I am not perfect. I do not pretend to be perfect.

I'm tired of hearing, "The sheriff's department says they have no suspects." OR "The guy that saved the boy's life lives in Springfield." OR "Whenever we arrived for work, we were upset to see the snow."

Does anyone see anything wrong with these sentences? I mess up now and then, but doesn't anyone know basic grammar anymore?

14 comments:

Granny Geek said...

Thanks for raising this issue.

How about, "The man was found laying on the street."? OUCH.

Michelle said...

Another good one, granny geek!

MoJoe said...

As a copy editor for a newspaper, crap like that makes me apoplectic. Especially when some of the worst sentences come from news reporters. I have scars on my forehead that look like computer keys because of that.

It's getting to the point where I can't listen to the radio. "It's not OVER 100 cars on sale, it's MORE THAN 100 cars on sale! AAAAAAGGGH!"

Michelle said...

You're right! I totally forgot about "over/more than"!

And people get confused all the time with "because of/due to"

Gregory Holman said...

"Apoplectic" is a funny word that I wish were used more frequently.

Well, you have got me started on this one, Michelle.

In the case of misused "they," I think it's boneheaded political correctness, attempting to avoid gendered pronouns at all costs.

The best was recently on Dateline NBC (take note, Michelle!) where a male interviewee told a reporter something to the effect of "I was looking for a good wife, someone who smiled whenever they saw me." Clearly, this man is in favor of marriage for transgender people.

Personally, I think getting the general population to speak and write "properly," i.e., according to tradition, is a lost cause.

Partly, Americans' rough grammar is a social benefit. If you compare how well the United States assimilates non-Anglophone immigrants to the experience of immigrants in countries with very tightly guarded languages (perfect-grammar-and-vocab France comes to mind), you start to see the benefit of a language that's flexible and porous. It helps newcomers get along in everyday life.

That said, steam sometimes flows from my ears when professionals of the written word make boneheaded missteps and expect to get paid for them.

Lately, I've been on the warpath about "will." It seems to be a feature of Ozarks and Midwestern vernacular to throw in "will," or another future-tense construction, when it doesn't serve the meaning of the sentence in any way. Usually, "will" just fattens the arteries of a writer's prose.

Example: "Humanitarian Charity Spokeswoman Lisa Lovejoy says families who want to apply for Christmas care packages will need to call her by December 1."

A better line: "Call 417-xxx-xxxx by December 1 if your family wants to apply for a Christmas care package from Humanitarian Charity."

If you see "will need" or "will want" or "will have to do" in your writing, practice a little amputation.

Michelle said...

Good point! You know what also gets me? Dangling modifiers!

Max said...

I've watched my brother pull hair out over this stuff. He worked as a copy editor in Evansville IN and here in St. Louis over the years. He can't read the Post-Dispatch without the front page becoming a mess of read copy editing marks :). Course I occasionally read his columns for the Sporting News to spot an error :)

Max...

MoJoe said...

Greg: Just be sure you don't say, "apoplectic with rage," because that's repetitive. And it's repetitive.

I just drove 44, listening to Sean Farnham of Fox Sports Radio say, "It's a mute point." AAAAAaaaaggh.

My other gripe is the phrase, "We've got." Contraction, short for "We have got." What's wrong with "We have"?
~joe

Michelle said...

"We have" is a good one. I slip on that. Now I'll be self-conscious during my next live shot! hehehe

Mike B. said...

I've got to chime in on this, too.

My biggest grammar pet peeve, and one that you hear and read EVERYWHERE is anxious vs. eager. Oh. Good. Lord. It drives me nuts. I've read it in AP copy and in major papers and magazines. It's everywhere in everyday speech. Everybody and their mom is anxious to do this, or anxious to see that.

You're eager, people! EAGER!

Jack said...

My head unscrews when I see the elipses misused. It's three periods, not five and not 13.

Tractorgurl said...

I'm late to the party but I'd love to get this one off my chest.
Short-lived! Said with a long "i" such as in ice.

short-lived [ sh√°wrt livd, w/ a line above the i meaning a long i!

msn encarta http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/short%2520lived.html

The most guilty? TV-weatermen! The first and only one I have heard say this correctly is KOLR 10's Tom Trtan. Thanks for coming through when others fall short.
My two cents.

tractorgurl said...

ha! It would appear I can't spell weathermen [forgot the "h"]. And Dave, that was not a personal slam against you, just keep an ear out to how the rest of your storm team uses it. You'll be surprised, [or not].

Granny Geek said...

OK. Here's another, from a local TV station:

"The storm has WRECKED havoc across the Ozarks."