Thursday, January 05, 2006

favourite english errors

just for kicks, I thought I'd create a list of my favourite grammatical and vocabulary blunders. it will be my own mini Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

BTW - I don't consider myself a grammar expert, this page is as much for me as anyone. if you find a mistake on my blog, please let me know. note that I use Canadian spelling, I don't obey the rules of capitalization and I avoid the oxford comma.

literally
my top misused word is literally. I heard a famous musician say "I was literally dying on the stage." it is a contradiction to use the word literally when referencing a metaphor.

penultimate
penultimate is not synonymous with ultimate - it means second to last. however, I've heard it used many times when the speaker meant to say ultimate.

fewer vs. less
I just saw a TV ad for a technical college. according to the woman in the ad, she now "works less hours." the scriptwriter should have used fewer instead of "less." according to SparkNotes.com, "If you can’t count it, use less. If you can count it, use fewer."

who vs. whom
I'm not sure that I've got this one down yet. :) according to SparkNotes.com, "Who is a subject pronoun; it is used as the subject of a verb. Whom is an object pronoun; it is never used as the subject of a verb."

basically
it took a non-native English speaker to point this one out to me. the word basically is often used to begin a sentence (or paragraph) that is actually a detailed explanation. the word loses all purpose unless there is something basic that follows.

awhile vs. a while
'awhile' is an adverb, 'a while' is a determiner plus a noun. from www.bartleby.com:

"Lie down awhile, and get some sleep illustrates the adverb, which is spelled as one word. Take a while to get oriented and Lie down for a while, and get some sleep illustrate the determiner a plus the noun it modifies. For many uses, only writing it will distinguish which syntactic structure you use."

example of misuse from www.forbes.com: "It may be that the Petronas Towers keeps the crown for quite awhile."

2 comments:

Chuy said...

Hey, nice blog.

The musician who said "literally dying on the stage" was Noel Gallagher right? when he was talking about the MTV Unplugged in Behind the Music...

Stephen Cawood said...

you got it jes :)