English Abuse - It Should Be A Crime

I have become increasingly aware of a trend in the English language that disturbs me. While reading an otherwise well written novel I found multiple occurrences of this phrase: “…should of known…”
The correct (intended) phrase is “should have” or, in contraction form, “should’ve”. The contracted form is most likely the cause of this common confusion.

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Many similar grammar stumbles that I see far too often are:
‘Then’ confused for ‘than’. In a major magazine I read an advertisement that blatantly mis-used (rather confused) the two. Affect and not Effect. This is a difficult one and I often find myself confused and puzzled on it.
Verses as opposed to Versus. The former are small snippets found in the Bible. The latter is used to compare two (often opposite) things.
Weather relates to storms and temperature such as WHETHER you take an umbrella with you.

A few others that annoy me when I see or hear them are:
“I could care less”, “Irregardless” and “Unloosen”. The intent of the phrase, “I couldn’t care less” is that you care so little there is no room for you to care at all.
“Regardless” means, literally, without regard. So, “Irregardless” (besides not even being an English word) would be a double negative The same with “Unloosen”. And, while we are on the subject, it seems very difficult to remember that misplacing or failing to continue to possess something is to LOSE it. “Loose” is what you do when you un-tighten.

When you hear a newscaster talking about a criminal who has barracked himself from the police, he is not said to be “Held up” or “Hold up”. The proper phrase is “Holed up”; like a rabbit in a hole.
And the place in the bank for valuables; a BOX that is locked in the SAFE for you to DEPOSIT your special valuables is a SAFE DEPOSIT BOX. I suspect that because slurring the words sounds like “Safety Posit Box” this mistaken phrase has been promulgated.

While we are on this subject, let me implore you to stop using “myself” incorrectly. I am taken aback each time I read an email message with a phrase like this: “If you have any questions just contact Mary Sue or myself”. Why are we so afraid to say ME? It is not a curse word.
“You are welcome to go to the movies with John and me.”, is the correct grammar. If I am the object of the sentence it should be “me”. “John and I are going to the movies tomorrow.”, demonstrates the common situation where I am the subject.

I do not profess to be perfect when it comes to grammar. But I feel compelled to strive for perfection in my communication skills, and I encourage you to also. We are blessed with a language that provides a rich vocabulary, enabling the selection of precisely the optimum word for the occasion.
Here are a few mnemonic tricks I use to keep these things straight:

Then vs. Than

The “E” in ‘then’ reminds me that this refers to an Event; something that has occurred in time. The other is a choice; so the “A” relates to an Alternative

Affect vs. Effect

Again the “E” is related to an Event; something that occurs in time. Moreover, the “A” reminds me that his applies to something ACTIVE that I can do. I can AFFECT something and then I will (at some point in time) see the EFFECT of what I did.

Weather and Whether

I remind myself that if there is a storm coming, “Get The ‘H’ out of there!!”. That is why WEATHER has no ‘H’ after the W.

For Lose and Loose

There are two ways to think of this. First, you will LOSE the extra “O”. Secondly, there is and extra letter (“O”) on the LOOSE

Your vs. You’re

Remember that apostrophe (‘) is used to denote a contraction; where two words that are commonly used together get squeezed into one. If you can replace the use of [your/you're] with two words, “You” “are” then it demands the apostrophe. Otherwise, the appropriate word would be ‘your’ – which denotes possession. { If it BELONGS to you (possession) you do not need any help from an apostrophe }

The Me and I test

Try the sentence without the other name and see how it sounds. Using the examples above, “You are welcome to go to the movies with John and me”. Here “I” would simply SOUND wrong.


Here is a great Infographic [thanks to CopyBlogger] that illustrates these and other common grammar mistakes:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly