Monday, June 20, 2011

Grammatical Pet Peeves

In a recent tweet Kerrie Flanagan said, "Thumbs down to @Target 's new in-store marketing campaign. 'Make this summer more funner.' Funner? Really??"  Right on, Kerrie.  Also, write on.

            "Funner" is a grammatical mistake because "fun" is a noun, not an adjective.  Were it an adjective, "funner" would be the comparative.  I know, I know.  Some modern dictionaries call "fun" both a noun and an adjective.  But that's a recent and I believe flawed modernism.  Those editors are simply allowing common use or, in this case, misuse, to dictate grammatical correctness.  Expressions like, "We had a fun time," or "She's a fun person," have contributed to the error.
            This made me think of other pet peeves, like grammatical slime seeping into the mainstream.

            The most egregious is probably, "Just between you and I...."

            Or how about, "That shirt looks well on you."
            Running a close third would be, "He graduated Michigan State in 2003."
"To graduate" can only be a transitive verb when the subject is the graduating agency, as in "Colorado State University graduated 300 medical students," but is an intransitive verb when the subject is the person doing the graduating, as in, "He graduated from CSU twenty years ago."  It cannot be a transitive verb when the subject is the graduating individual.  Anyone who said, "I graduated CSU in 2004" should not have graduated, at least not from the English department.

            Now a question or two.  Are these justifiable gripes or just pedantic silliness on my part?  Please vote in the survey to the right of this post.  I'm curious about what others think regarding the preservation of our beautiful language.

             Also I wonder when it is justifiable to make changes in the language since it is, after all, a living language.  I would guess that you have to know the rules before you can break them intentionally.  What do you think?  I'm especially curious about grammatical errors in books for children and young adults.

            Finally I wonder who is to be the final judge on these points.  Can the grammar police make us so concerned about correctness that we lose all creativity and end up with dull, bland, writing?

            Thanks for reading my blog, and don't forget to vote and/or comment below.  If you have some of your own grammatical pet peeves, please mention them in the comment section.



  1. I have a pet peeve. When did it become the "norm" to mix subject and verb tense? Mixing the verbs "is" and "are" with the singular or plural subject are so common today. I read this mistake in books and hear it on the news (both local and national) all the time.

  2. I loved this, especially after spending a half hour trying to get a definitive answer on the proper plural for spoonful today. You tell me. says it's spoonfuls, which is what I thought, but MS Word shows that as a spelling error. They're trying to make me crazy.

    My biggest pet peeve, though, is in pronunciation. The word is Nuclear. Look at it. Nu- Cle - Ar. Not Nu-Cu-Lar. Not even our president can pronounce it. More than half of the newscasters don't say it correctly. There's a term for this type of mispronunciation. Metathesis. I'll bet they can't pronounce that, either.

  3. My pet peeve is when people put apostrophes in words that aren't possessive just because they end in s. For example: There are plenty of good mom's out there. I don't care if people mess up on the more complicated apostrophe rules, but for some reason this error just drives me insane.

  4. My pet grammatical peeve is to hear a statement such as the following: You are less than five miles from here. For some reason the rule for count and non-count nouns seems to be a rule few people follow.

  5. I'm sorry I missed the chance to vote for justifiable gripes. All hail the grammar police!