Grammar Conundrums Clarified!

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Some people might think grammar just isn’t a big deal. (After all, who really cares if you use “whom” correctly?) But I would argue that it is important. After all, how we speak and write reflects on our professionalism and intelligence. Whether I am proposing a blog collaboration or just sending an email to my child’s teacher, I want to project my best self and I am sure you do, too!

Now I’ll be the first to admit I make a lot of grammatical errors. After I post something on Instagram or the blog, I’ll often reread it a few hours later and then realize that I made a whopping grammatical faux pas. (Note: it is hard to be my editor so thank you for being patient with my mistakes!).

Now while I am not a stickler with grammar issues, I do think it’s important to try to be grammatically correct. With each generation there seems to be a further dumbing down of society and I, for one, would prefer to pass on higher – not lower – standards to my children. Slang might sound cool when you’re 14, but not when you are 22 and in a job interview.

Here are five grammar conundrums I often come across that might help you, too:

1. “Me” vs. “I”

I think 50% of adults get this wrong! In conversation it’s easy to let this one slip, but it’s one of those grammatical errors that might make people question if you passed English Lit in college if you don’t get it right! (Sorry, but true!).

Example: Stacy is going to the movies with Justin and I. 

Nope. Always take out the pronoun and see if it makes sense. Stacy is going to the movies with I. That doesn’t sound right so you know it’s incorrect. The correct way is: Stacy is going to the movies with Justin and me.

2. “Peek” v. “Pique” v “Peak”

I am quite sure I have written this incorrectly in the past, but now I know the correct phrase: The music coming from down the street piqued our interest. (Pique comes from a french word that means “to prick” or “to sting”). Peek is used as in “Sneak Peek” and peak is akin to a summit (as in the the top of the mountain – stating the obvious here, I know).

3. Less vs. Fewer

Another confusing one! Less is used when it is a general amount; fewer is used when it is a specific amount. My daughter was having a temper tantrum because she had fewer Skittles than her sister. Or: She is less than perfect.

4. Further vs. Farther

Farther is used for actual distances as in: Memphis is farther away from Dallas than Little Rock. Further is for more figurative purposes: The football team dropped further in the rankings.

Grammar Girl’s trick is to remember that farther has the word far in it. Note: this is one of those rules that doesn’t really apply in other English speaking counties so you aren’t technically wrong if you use further in the place of farther.

5. Whom V. Who

This is one of the rules that people use to try to sound sophisticated but, unfortunately, they often get it wrong! Usually “whom” replaces him or her; “who” replaces he or she. So you would say, “With whom are you going to the party?” I am going to the party with him. “Who is going to the party?” She is going to the party.

On that note, avoid the shuddering of those around you by refraining from questions that end with these prepositions:

“Who are you going with?” (Remember, with whom, although I know it’s sound fancy!)

“Where are you going to?”

Or, heaven forbid, “Where are you at?”

6. The Grammar Faux Pas that Bloggers Make That Drives Me Crazy

And one final one that is silly, but secretly drives me crazy every time I see a blogger caption their Instagram photo with it. And it’s this:

Those shoes though.

That bag though.

That arm candy though.

Please don’t end sentences in “though” unless the previous sentence or phrase calls for it. Example: The Mansion is the best hotel in Dallas. It’s expensive, though.

Okay I have said my piece. (And it’s not “peace” I checked!).

Oh and one more to go with the cute card at the top : “a lot” is two words! But I am sure you knew that!

If you need any books on the topic, I’ve linked some below. I also use the Grammar Girl’s website for quick reference although I know she is a little more modern than say your average university grammar guide:

 

 

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Source: Card from Belle and Union

 

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11 thoughts on “Grammar Conundrums Clarified!

  1. I’m so glad you do a post on this!! Having an English minor, and a mother who is and was a stickler for grammar, I cringe when I read or hear bad grammar. My biggest annoyance is “there” vs “their.” Or perhaps “it’s” vs “its.” Thanks for the great tips on how to remember when to use what!

    1. Glad you liked the post! In Emily Ley’s words I want to encourage “grace, not perfection.” But I really think most people want to do the correct thing when it comes to grammar, but sometimes just don’t know what that is. So hopefully this post will help in that regard!

  2. The one I can’t stand, and I see it a lot on the neighborhood Facebook flea page, is sale and sell. People will write “need to sale our leather chair” or “must sale quickly”.

  3. The English major in me loves this! We all make mistakes but I agree… let’s please at least try! “Loose” and “lose” are my pet peeves!

  4. Your and you’re. Their, there and they’re. And my personal favorite – How come? No. The questions are who? what? when? where? and why? Not how come? National news anchors on NPR make this mistake all the time. Drives me crazy. I don’t try to use whom because I never know when it’s correct. Ha!

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