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Spelling and Grammar
updated: Aug 02, 2012, 11:26 AM
By John Dell
As we text our way through the Information Superhighway, our spelling, grammar and punctuation are
quickly being made irrelevant by twitterers, tweeters and Internet semi-literates.
Abbreviations are one thing. In the interest of brevity I'll concede it's far easier to type "ur" for "your,"
along with the obligatory OMG, WTF, STFU, LOL, and other acronyms. But there are rules of grammar
that just aren't being observed the rest of the time. Those of us who carry a Sharpee to Ralphs so we
can correct the word "avocadoes" when we see it misspelled in the produce department think it's time to
cover some basic ground rules.
We're not going to get into things like "affect/effect," "your/you're," "to/too" or possessive apostrophes
here. Let's save that for another day. Today, we're going to talk about misused words and phrases.
Newspapers are the biggest offenders, particularly the one in De la Guerra Plaza. And the TV station on
the hill doesn't exactly pay attention to the King's English either.
Class is now in session, so please pay attention. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:
1. "The car collided with a tree."
No it didn't, unless the tree happened to be moving at the time. A collision is an impact between two
MOVING objects. A car doesn't collide with a tree, it STRIKES it.
2. "There was/were a myriad of questions."
No, no, NO! "Myriad" is an adjective, not a noun! "There were myriad questions." If you're going to use
a 25¢ word, at least use it properly!
3. "Mayor Schneider told a press conference..."
How about, "Mayor Schneider announced AT a press conference?"
4. "The rainfall total was .4 inches."
No it wasn't. It was ".4 OF an inch."
Apparently, to show off how clever we are, we've actually taken to adding syllables to words where none
are needed. Such as:
Yes. I know. (He said through clenched teeth). Somehow this has actually become a dictionary-
accepted word to replace "converse." That still doesn't make it right, and I don't EVER want to hear you
The word is "orient." It always has been.
Why not "preventive?"
Sometimes proper grammar is just a matter of knowing when to stop talking. Consider the following:
DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPARTMENT:
1. "The car was red in color."
Not necessary. "The car was red" suffices nicely.
2. "At the intersection of State and Anapamu."
"The mugging occurred at State and Anapamu" is all you need to say.
3. "At this point in time..."
Nope. Either "at this point" or "at this time." Why complicate things?
4. "Whether or not..."
"Or not" is completely unnecessary.
5. "Dr. Dan Secord, M.D."
It's one or the other--"Dr. Dan Secord" or "Dan Secord, M.D." Think about it.
6. "Eight p.m. at night."
As opposed to eight p.m. in the morning? It's either "eight p.m." or "eight tonight" (or tomorrow night,
or whatever night you're talking about).
7. "Hot water heater."
It's a "water heater." A hot water heater would be something that would heat water that's already hot.
And what would be the point of THAT?
Some people think that grammatical errors are no big deal. But they ARE a big deal. I hate to drag kids
(the yoot of Amuricah) into this, but as long as it's considered okay for the daily newspaper, local TV
station and general public to skew rules of grammar and kids read that "a myriad of people" stood in
line for hours for tickets to "The Dark Knight," our Leaders of Tomorrow will never, ever learn how to
speak or write properly.
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