Many people just cannot grasp the concept of grammar. And that’s okay…when you’re a kindergartener. But if I hear a grown man or woman say that “they seen something” or that don’t know the difference between “their,” “they’re,” and “there,” and they 1) aren’t trying to be funny, 2) have a minimum of a high school education, 3) didn’t just learn English yesterday, and 4) aren’t just waking up from a coma, my brain starts to feel as though it is being scraped down a brick wall. I get it: English is a tough language. But the people to whom I am referring have spoken the language since birth and have no real excuse to not understand simple sentence structure. I know they’re (see what I did there?) still teaching English composition, grammar and writing in primary schools, so what gives? But have no fear; I’m here to help.
So, to prevent your friends from wanting to scrape your brain down a brick wall, here are a few basic tips for acceptable grammar.
- Spell check and grammar check is wrong
- I hate to break it to you but those little squiggly red and green lines under your words on Microsoft Word are lying to you. Sometimes, they’re correct. But other times, they are just plain wrong. It’s a computer; it thinks it knows what you want to say. But you are smarter than a machine. Why? Because you’re a functioning person. And a person made that machine.
- Saying “___ and I” instead of “___ and Me” ALL THE TIME does not make you sound smarter
- In fact, in some cases, it makes you sound dumber. Here’s a good trick to thinking about it. Say that you and your friend Dave are going to a bar, and you’re telling your friend Stacy about it (because Stacy’s mean and you don’t like Stacy). You would say: “Dave and I are going to a bar.” Imagine it’s just your lonely butt going to the bar and take Dave out of the equation (sorry, Dave). Would you say, “Me am going to a bar” or “I am going to a bar”? Hopefully, you’re not the Cookie Monster and you would pick the second choice.
- Now let’s switch it up a bit: let’s say you’re telling your mom about how obsessed Stacy is with you and your buddy Dave (“Like, calm down, Stacy,”), and you want to say: “Stacy is so obsessed with Dave and I.” Well, you don’t want to say that ‘cause that’s incorrect. Take out Dave again, and you get: “Stacy is so obsessed with I.” Does that hit the ear right? Of course not. So, you’re going to tell your mom: “Stacy is so obsessed with Dave and me.”
- Always take out the other subject (Bye, Dave!) in your brain before you type something or open your mouth to someone really important and professional. It makes a difference.
- Your vs. You’re [very good at this grammar thing]
- “Your” is what you say when you’re telling your roommate that, that mess they left in the kitchen last night belongs to them. Example: “That’s your crusted old ramen in the pot and I am not cleaning it up for you!”
- “You’re” is a mash-up of the words “you” and “are.” (Also, notice how when you couple “You” with a ‘being’-verb, “is” is not it.) So, when your roommate fires back at you, they would properly say: “No, you’re the slob!”
- Grammar: Helping people be mean since the 5th century
- Do not add “S”’s onto everything
- You are not a snake; not every word needs to be plural or possessive. It is not Kroger’s; it is Kroger. It is not Walmarts; it’s Walmart. That’s just a little tid-bit I think everyone should know.
- Autocorrect isn’t (always) right either
- I know we live in a time where we let our computers, tablets and smart phones run our lives, but just because Siri is telling you what she thinks you should text to your girlfriend, does not mean she’s grammatically correct. Besides, we all know Siri is just jealous of your girlfriend anyway. Just because a word sounds the same does not mean it is the same.
- When you have clothing on your body = it’s wear, not where
- When you are asking your friend to tell you their location = it’s where, not wear
- When you look at your newborn baby through that window at the hospital, you say to the other dad standing next to you = “That is our baby,” not are.
- When that other dad is just being spiteful = “You are lucky he doesn’t look like you,” not our.