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5 Common Grammar Mistakes That Make Your Argument Invalid

For those of you that don't know (which is unlikely), I am what you call...a grammar hound. A former colleague once called me Conan the Grammarian and honestly it's the best. I'm the resident word nerd at my current workplace and editing things is a hobby I truly enjoy. Damn if I don't love a red pen. Grammar, and really spelling and vocabulary are honestly hallmarks of professionalism IMO but also should be part of our everyday conversations. Today at lunch I used the words "eschew" and "amalgamation" fluidly in conversation, which should tell you what my nerd level is. I don't put this out there to brag, and I'm not one of those people who throws around big words just for the sake of doing so. It's just the way I am. And let's be honest, I have to be strong at words because I'm w e a k at numbers and math.  I lay this foundation to clue you in on why this post is necessary. Read on, friends.

     I've got a bone to pick with people on the internet. Not necessarily specific people, but the collective gathering of folks (trolls in particular) that frequent Facebook and Twitter. It's no secret that we are in an era of particularly heated political and social discourse. It's dark times my friends. On multiple occasions, I've broken the number one rule of articles on the internet: Don't read the comments. I cannot help myself, ya'll. If the comments themselves are not infuriating enough based on content, almost more frustrating (for me at least) is that they are rife with grammar and spelling mistakes. I'm all for a healthy, friendly debate, or even a heated one. Hell, it's a free country. Argue your point all you want. But if you're going to do so, please, please, check your spelling and grammar. I'd go as far as to also encourage you to add proper punctuation too, but the internet is a lawless place and I can let that slide in most cases. I cannot, however, take your argument seriously, or even consider it, when it is so poorly written as to be indecipherable or at the very least, full of errors. I'm here to give you the common mistakes that will instantly render your argument invalid and tips for helping you remember how to fix them.
Me, trying to figure out how to school trolls

1. Mixing Up Loose and Lose
I saw a lot of this after the Superbowl. I also see it related to other sporting events, elections, and losing one's mind. Oddly, from what I've seen, most people get the word loser right; but then they add the extra "o" to lose. If you're talking about who is going to win or lose the election, and then launch into an argument about one candidate or another, or sling insults about your least favorites, it's probably a good idea to know the difference between 'lose' and 'loose.'

Remember:
Lose = to not win. Root of the word Loser.
Loose = not tight. As in, ya'll are loose with the rules of grammar.

2. Forgetting That 'A Lot' is Two Words
I see this one a lot (see what I did there?). This is one of those that I think is often over used. And who determines what 'a lot' actually is? Context matters! People try to frame an argument to something by saying that a lot of people feel one way or another, or a lot of people participated in something, etc. But, they write it like this:

"Alot of people got sick from vaccines they are poison and docters r liars." That's an actual comment I saw on an article on FB. Yeah, sorry Susan, but if you were a credible scientist of some sort, may I please see your credentials? But also, your complete lack of proper grammar and spelling leads me to believe that you don't know anything about anything.

It's easy:
A lot = a big amount of something. A large group.
Alot = NOT A WORD
Allot= to distribute or give out. Allot some of your funding to taking a grammar refresher course!

3. Mixing Up Your and You're
This one is definitely among the most common. I see it most when trolls on the internet are hurling insults at each other. "Your a dumb liberal snowflake." Um. No. I am always tempted to respond: "My 'a dumb liberal snowflake'...what? Is pretty? Is unique?" Insults of this variety on the internet should really have little to no impact on people, but at least insult each other correctly! Saying "Your a dumbass" means literally n o t h i n g. You aren't even actually insulting that person! You're really just illustrating that YOU are in fact, the dumbass.

I'm going to let Ross give you this tip:
Your, it's possessive!
4. Unnecessary Apostrophe Use
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I understand that sometimes this can be tricky and there are exceptions to the general rule, but it is the grammatical equivalent to fingernails on a chalkboard for me. An apostrophe shows possession; ex. "Maria's blog is real judgy today." It is my blog, belonging to me, and therefore the apostrophe is required. If you're trying to use a plural noun to show more than one of something, in most cases, you just need to add an 's' or 'es.' I see this commonly with 'moms' and 'dads.' A comment I recently saw:

"There are a lot of mom's out there who think formula is a good option." Yes! Feed your baby however works for you and baby! Hell, you even got the 'a lot' part right! But whoops, you added an unnecessary apostrophe and I have cringed. You meant that there are many moms, not just one. In this case, it is plural with the 's' alone and does not need the apostrophe. 

There are actually many other apostrophe rules and misuse, but this is the one I see most often and makes you look a little dweeby. 

Remember: 
When you're making something plural, don't use an apostrophe. 

And finally...

5. Confusing Their, There, and They're
I've chosen to end with this one, though I could go on and on (and maybe there will be a time for part two). This is similar to the Your/You're problem except that the English language is bizarre and there are THREE forms of this word. A real life example of a gross misuse of 'there' I saw just yesterday:

"Get these people outta here! There ruining our country!" Epic. Facepalm. Here's a hint: if you're means you are (thanks again, Ross!), then they're means they are. You're basically substituting an apostrophe (see, lots of apostrophe uses!) for the 'a' in are. 

There refers to a place. Their is like your- possessive. No one is saying that this makes sense! Ask an English language learner about learning our language and they will tell you its one of the hardest to learn. But it is what it is, so you should know the difference so you can comment, describe, insult, and preach correctly.

Think of it like this:

They're = They Are. They're really grammatically challenged on the internet. 
Their = Possessive. Their lack of knowledge makes me unable to take them seriously. 
There = Place or position, sometimes an exclamation. There are a lot of resources to help you understand grammar. There, there, don't cry! 
I always think of this when I hear "Don't cry!"

     I could go on. We could talk about accept/except, it's/its, affect/effect, etc, etc. But I'll save those for the next time. I focused on these 5 because right now I'm seeing them most often. The internet has allowed us to argue with each other with reckless abandon, for better or worse, and we live in a place where freedom of speech is a thing. Let's not abuse it by voiding our arguments with poor grammar. I mean, if you write correctly, I might still very much disagree with you, but at least I haven't immediately discounted your position because of poor grammar.

Tell me, what are your biggest grammar pet peeves? Which things confuse you the most? Let's start a grammar revolution and get back to proper discourse!



Comments

  1. I cannot ❤️ this enough. There are so many often incorrectly used words. And people saying words which are not actual words.

    Equally frustrating to me is the lack of cultural knowledge. If one quotes, or especially, alludes to a classic novel, play, or opera the usual response is “huh?”. (Do you get a reference to a painting in the attic, for instance?)

    I, too, use “big” words. And, generally use them correctly. I don’t do it to be a snob. I know what penultimate means. It is a precise word.

    In my new job, I speak to lawyers and paralegals and title agents (who, practically, are limited practice lawyers). And I teach them what the laws say. Generally, these calls happen because they are trying to get an answer faster than they are able to find it if they were to do the research themselves (read: lazy). But many of these professionals are unable to understand the laws and rules which govern the practice they are in. It is frustrating. Incredibly frustrating.

    I do have to admit... “eschew” ... for some reason the meaning of this word eludes me. I have to look it up.every.time.i.read.it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are indeed, related, my dear cousin. <3

      The words that are not actually words- yes! That could be another post. It would most definitely include "irregardless." UUUGH

      Delete

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