Tag Archives: Apostrophes

Pet Peeves – II

Here’s round 2.  Buckle up.

Most Americans speak only one language.  I don’t have a problem with that.  That fact, by itself, does not mean we are lazy or stupid.  But the fact that so many speak it poorly surely does.  Here are a just few of this Grammar-Nazi’s language Pet Peeves.

  1. Me, Myself and I.  These all serve different purposes and CANNOT be used interchangeably.

    How to console the Grammar Nazi

    “Me” is an object.  Something must be done “to me” or “for me”.  People can talk about me, complain about me, kick me and disparage me.  But “Pete and me” cannot go to the store, or go out drinking.

    What is being done to me? Nothing! Therefore, the proper pronoun to go with Pete, above, is “I”.  This pronoun “I” is the nominative case.  As such, it gets to do things. Like go to the store. “Pete and I go to the store.”

    Further, “myself” cannot be used in place of either “I” or “me.”  The pronoun “myself” is reflexive, which means it is used when you do something to yourself.  I can bathe myself; I feed myself, I cut myself; I educate myself, I monitor myself, and I gratify myself.  In each case the word “I” must also appear in order for “myself” to correctly appear.

    We do not say “Myself and Pete went to the store, then went drinking”; where is the “I”??  “Myself” does not DO things. And we do not say, “If you have any questions, please address them to myself.”

    What?  It’s “Please address questions to ME.”

    Advanced users: “myself” can also be used for emphsis. “I wrote the code myself.”

2. Your, You’re and Ur.  OK, I get that when typing quickly this is an easy mistake to make.  We sometimes type “your” when we mean “you’re”; or the other way around. But “Ur” is a total collapse, effectively giving up on a nice bike ride or a hike after the first drop of drizzle.

“Oh, it’s so hard, I’ll just type Ur.”  Use of Ur and repeated Your/You’re errors just show laziness.

3. Their, They’re and There.  Occasional such typing errors are expected, even when proofed.  Repeated errors?  Lazy.

4. Affect/Effect.  This one really bugs me.  One simple rule will get you the right answer 99% of the time.  “Effect” is a noun.  As in: “What was the effect of your efforts?”  Effect is a thing.

Affect is a verb.  “Do you see how your word choice affects me?”

Rarely “effect” can be a verb.  But if you get that far, you’re already an English expert.

5.  Who/Whom and prepositional phrases.
Like “I”, the pronoun “who” is nominative.  That means it gets to do things.  Who is doing that?  Who is singing?  Who pinched me?  Who is there?  Who won the race?

See? Who is doing, who is singing, who is pinching, who is winning and who “is” existing. Substitute a name and it works the same: Joe is doing that, Joe is singing (badly), Joe is pinching, Joe is there.  And, happily, Joe won the race.

Like “me”, the pronoun “whom” is an object.  That means it gets things done to it, for it, about it.  “To whom are you speaking?” or “For whom is this gift intended?”

Whoever and whomever follow the same rules.  Whoever is nominative and does things.  Whomever is objective and gets things done to it, things done for it and things done about it. “Will whoever is farting please stop?” And …  “We will hire whomever you recommend.”  In the first, “whoever” is doing something … namely farting.  In the second “whomever” is getting something done to them … namely recommended.

A reasonable exception is that an entire clause can make up the object.  So: “I will give the award to who deserves it most.”

A particularly sharp Pet Peeve is trying too hard and missing this last rule.  “I will give the award to whom deserves it most” is so painful; because it is an equivalent error to “me deserve the prize.”  As is “Will whomever is farting please stop?”  Ewwwww.

6.  Last and most Peevish: Apostrophes.
6a) There is not a single case where an apostrophe should be used with the possessive pronouns: my, mine, ours, yours, his, hers, theirs, its.  These are clearly possessive and need NO apostrophes … ever.  “That book is her’s  ….”  “That is it’s nature … ”  ewwwwwww. Just … don’t … do it. Then there the doubly erroneous “That is its’ nature.”  Holy moley.  An apostrophe AFTER the “s” in possessive “its.”

6b) Apostrophes should only be used for plurals in very rare cases.  “The decade’s went rolling by …”   “All of her T-shirt’s were too small…”    ewwwwwwwwww.  Not necessary, not acceptable. It is a waste of a character.

The exceptions are few, but understandable.  See below.  Plus, many people accept things like “There are no if’s, and’s or but’s on those posts”; although most style manuals recommend against it.

6b) Acronyms and apostrophes.  What is the plural of CD?  You might answer CD’s.  But then what is the possessive of CD?  It is also CD’s.  So what’s the difference?  The fact is, like above, that the apostrophe for plural is redundant.  Using “CDs” (no apostrophe) is just fine for the plural of CD.  DVDs is the plural of DVD and STDs is the plural of STD.  (Yes, there are more than one).

And years don’t use apostrophes for plural either.  The decade from 1930-1939 is correctly called “the 1930s” … and  not “the 1930s’. ”  Using the apostrophe indicates possessive: “The 1930’s characteristic events include the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, Social Engineering and the outbreak of World War II.”

[An exception is the plural of lower case letters (“mind your p’s and q’s”) and plural of abbreviations with mixed lower and upper case letters (“she had already earned two PhD’s”).  But these are rare and well beyond any reasonable Pet Peeve.]

7) That pesky “s”.  What started this latest Pet Peeve rant?  Well this week Daylight Saving Time ended.  I’m not a big fan, but — as they say — “It is what it is.”  Deal with it. But it is not Daylight Savings Time; it is Daylight Saving Time … because we are “saving time”; we are not “savings time.”

Attention to details shows that we Americans — we who are generally assumed world-wide to be lazy and parochial — have at least shown a modicum of mastery of at least one single language: our own one mother tongue.

Self Control is paramount for any Grammar Nazi wishing to be accepted socially

Ok.  That bug is crawling out of my orifice now. Have a wonderful week.  As for me, “It is what it is” — I will have to deal with this with a smile on face indefinitely.  I can do it.  Yes I can.  But silently, internally … every day … all day long … I am correcting grammar.

Peace and happy speaking

Joe Girard © 2017