From the Copy Desk | Grammar: Pet Peeves

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Many people who work with language have pet peeves about language usage, those little things that they always spot and that always annoy them. I thought it would be fun to poll some of our English language arts people about their grammar pet peeves. A list of some of those follows, along with some references about them, most from the website Common Errors in English Usage by Paul Brians (This website is the first place I go when I want to make sure I’m using something correctly).

that vs. which

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/which.html

 

singular they

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/they.html

 

using I or myself instead of me

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/myself.html

 

using the wrong there/their/they’re or your/you’re

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/their.html

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/your.html

 

insisting on fake rules about ending a sentence with a preposition and splitting an infinitive

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/11/grammar-myths-prepositions/

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/split-infinitives

 

“I could care less.”

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/care.html

 

apostrophe abuse

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/apostrophes1.html

 

using backup or login or setup as a verb

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/backup.html

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/login.html

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/setup.html

 

missing hyphens

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/hyphenation.html

 

dangling or misplaced modifiers

http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/dangling.html

 

I’ll end with one of my own pet peeves, which I don’t have a handy link for. I think of this kind of error as an “each is equal” error. It’s when each member of a group is described individually by something that can only be used to describe more than one thing. Some examples should help clarify.

 

Incorrect: Each marker is the same color.

Correct: All the markers are the same color.

 

Incorrect: Each value is equal.

Correct: The two values are equal.

 

Incorrect: The terms science and technology are not interchangeable. You should emphasize the difference between both these terms.

Correct: The terms science and technology are not interchangeable. You should emphasize the difference between these terms.

 

What is your pet peeve about language usage?

Created by: 
Kevin Jackson-Mead