Hi, FFers! Welcome to the Grammar Cop’s Hall of Shame. It’s time to share our Friday Follies Pet Peeves… because we can.
Seriously, the G.C. gets so tired of seeing certain language infractions over and over, in various media. Here are some of the worst offenders:
- It’s/Its: This is the worst of all. Numero uno. I actually get stomach pains when I see the missing or misused apostrophe. Let’s remember that it’s is a contraction for it is: “It’s raining.” However, its (without the apostrophe) is possessive, as in “The cat bit its tail.” (Silly cat!)
- That/who: This is wrong: “The man that saved the dog.” We must only use that for an inanimate object, as in “The book that is on the desk…” But for a person, we say “The man who saved the dog.”
- Lose/Loose: I see this mistake online all the time, e.g. on Facebook and elsewhere; it makes me lose my cool! My loose lips start saying all sorts of bad words!
- Who’s/Whose: This has been addressed before on FF, but it bears repeating: Who’s is a contraction for who is. Who’s on first? But whose is used for the possessive, as in “Whose turn is it now to be punished for bad grammar?”
- Adding ‘s for a plural? Just. Don’t. Do. It. The apostrophe-s construction (‘s) is only used for the possessive.
- Principal/Principle: Principal means the head of a school. It also can be an adjective meaning main or chief, as in “The principal reason for learning grammar rules is so that you won’t look uneducated.” 🙂 But principle, on the other hand, means a basic idea, or, well, here’s a link for some synonyms.
- Compliment/Complement: A compliment is what you give someone when you want to praise them: “She gave her daughter a compliment on her piano playing.” (She complimented her daughter.) However, complement is completely different, it means to go well with – as in “This red wine will complement our filet mignon.” Bon appetit!
- Advise/advice: Actually I think this should be number two up there, right under the it’s/its debacle. This is also found all over the Internet. Let’s take note: advise is the verb, it’s what you do when you suggest a course of action to someone – you “advise them.” But advice is the noun – it is the thing you give to someone: “I give you advice on good grammar rules.” 😉
There will be a quiz next week. I am serious. Friday Follies is moving even more into teaching mode – hey, it’s August! Time for school soon! Heh…