If that title made you cringe and shake your head, I’m glad! It means you know there’s something wrong. If you haven’t figured it out, then I invite you to visit http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/mispron.html.
To be sure, I know I have made my share of malapropos statements in my day. I am notoriously bad at spelling and quite frankly would never survive in the wild without my spell checker. But I have learned not to blindly accept everything the squiggly line suggests without being certain it’s giving me good advice. The grammar checker on my word processer has done some really funky things to me over the years, so I have decided to turn the bloody thing off and learn proper usage on my own. I’ve also learned, when in doubt, look it up and if I am still uncertain, then I find another way to say the thing I was trying to say.
What distresses me is to see more and more badly written words, whether they be in blogs, news articles or even just status updates. Yeah, yeah I hear some of you. “It’s the Internet, get used to it. . . that’s how we write!” I reject that argument as lazy. The English language is a living and changing lexicon, but there are also rules that need to learned and followed. Rule number one: Words are spelled with letters only. No numbers allowed!
Learn! Your and you’re are different words that mean different things. An apostrophe designates a possessive or a missing letter — NOT a plural. There are three different words that sound like ‘there’ and they’re not the same in their meanings or spelling. Learn them. And even if you could care less about something I still couldn’t.
Some of the more egregious offenses I’ve come across while reading news articles just this past week: (Have all the journalists abandoned their Style Guides?) :
- It’s a doggy dog world.
- It could of / would of/ should of. . . (GAA!)
- Hung where it should be hanged. (Pictures are hung, people are hanged! Get used to it, that’s how it works!)
- Using ‘a’ and ‘of’ to frame ‘myriad’. Myriad does not mean ‘variety’. If it did, then ‘a myriad of’ would be correct. The word myriad literally means ‘many’ and should be used the same way the word many is used. You would not say “I have a many of choices to make.” If you’re not sure which way to go, then simply don’t use the word myriad. Choose many or variety instead and you’ll probably avoid the proper usage problem all together.
I know there are many arguments about how words change their meanings so I shouldn’t be so uptight about it. The trouble is that many words have their meanings changed because people don’t take the time or care to use them properly in the first place. Spitting image? Really? Is it too hard to comprehend that it should be “spit and image”? It makes a whole lot more sense that way and sounds a bit more intelligent.
Now, go out and write something!