Trippingly on the tongue

The other day,  my children and I were having lunch at Al’s Pizza, a local pizza joint, when Sandhya entertained us by reading out loud an article listing the 50 most annoying, over-used, abused, misused words/phrases in the English language.  That got me reignited on my own list of words/phrases that should, in my opinion,  only be used in the privacy of one’s own head and never in company.

So here it is.

1.  The good, “my bad” and the ugly: ’nuff said.  Come on, people.  Grow up.

2. Adieu, to you, and you and you “and I” – as in “At John and I’s wedding, we served beer and peanuts”.  The phrase  “and I” is appropriate in certain sentences such as “John and I will not abuse the English language from today”.  I believe this unsavory trend began when well meaning language enthusiasts decided to correct the abuse of the phrase “and me” and overcorrected.

A good way to test the usage of this is to remove the proper noun in the sentence and see if it makes sense.  For example, would you ever say “I’s wedding”? Ever? So, the correct use there is “At John and my wedding”.

3. Indecent prepositions: While it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition, sometimes I feel it is not cool to pile them on.  Examples:

  • “Get off of me!”
  • “Where you at?” This always conjures up the image of a gum-chewing, vacant-eyed teen for me.   Sorry teens!  I know several adults who say this.

4.  U R not cool when you use chat/text format abreviations in formal emails/articles.

5.  Saying “your” when you mean “you are”.  As in “your in my way”.

6. “Other line” – I know several well-educated teens (sorry again!)  who say this when they’re on the phone, and they get another call.  Kids, you don’t have “two lines”.  You have call-waiting, and you have one telephone line.  Just say “I am getting another call”.  If that’s too long in this age where status updates more than 140 characters is an essay, just say “another call”.

7. Who versus that:  This drives me nuts.  I was taught to always use “who” when I am talking about people, and “that” when I am talking about inanimate things.  For example:

“The man who saw the cat that chased the cat” is the more conventionally correct form, but an insanely large amount of people I know would say “The man that saw the cat that chased the rat”.  So much so that I catch myself doing the unthinkable sometimes!

8. Saying “I could care less” when you mean that you really don’t care.  The correct usage is: “I couldn’t care less”.

These are a few of my favorite peeves.  I am certainly no grammar girl, and the irony of me, whose first language is Tamil, writing this did cross my mind – but didn’t stop me.

I welcome alert readers to contribute to this list.   Don’t hold back.  Have fun!


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. vtkbhoopers
    Jul 24, 2011 @ 19:06:40

    This hits very close to home for me, seeing as I have a friend from a place who also does things…fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, also shame on me, I should have seen it coming!!!!



  2. vtkbhoopers
    Jul 24, 2011 @ 19:11:03

    You’re right by the way Srilanka, July would have been perfect to visit you. Well you know what they say….should of could of would of!!!



  3. Raja
    Jul 27, 2011 @ 06:44:02

    Alert reader alert 😉 : shouldn’t it be ‘At John’s and my wedding”?

    My pet peeve: People using ‘s to signify plurals.
    Or, as they’d have it, plural’s.

    Great article, Latha.



  4. Viji
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 03:09:33

    coming from Bangalore ..I cannot be able to understand most of this …!



  5. Raja
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 03:06:07

    Please to prepone your discussions, cousin sisters, and do the needful quickly quickly.



    • sri
      Aug 03, 2011 @ 21:23:45

      Dear cousin brother: I shall oblige you by dedicating an entire post to Inglish/Tanglish. Please do the needful, and be sending me your suggestions at the earliest.



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