Ho! Ho! Ho! I hope Santa knows he needs to have plenty of grammar books in his sleigh this year.
Let’s start with a few of the most common grammatical errors that scream, “I need a book on grammar!”
1. Your welcome. I can’t believe I still have to write about this one. I can’t even count the number of times each week I get an email, text, or private message on social media with your welcome. Once again---I do not have a welcome, so it can’t be mine. Nevertheless, people keep insisting it is YOUR welcome. Once and for all, the correct way to write this is You’re welcome, as in You are welcome.
2. Supposably. Think of a man named Ed if this one confuses you. Perhaps that will help you remember that the correct way to say (and write) this is supposedly. See how “Ed” replaces “ab” when you say/write it correctly? Don’t laugh. I always had a difficult time remembering if the correct spelling was seperate or separate. That was until I learned my lesson from Audrey Sigrist, the mother of Aloe King’s (in Mercedes) owner John Sigrist. Audrey, who passed away last year, was a teacher for many years. She sent me letters about my columns from time to time. In one of those letters, she gave me some time-treasured spelling hints. One of those was, “There is a rat in separate.” Since then, I have never hesitated when spelling separate.
3. Over-exaggerate or overexaggerate. No matter how you write it, there is no such word. Remember: exaggerate already means to overdo something.
4. Can food. This is the season to see this grammatical train wreck because of all of the food drives during the holidays---or if you are at H-E-B and you look at the aisle markers. Regardless of how many times you see it, can food is incorrect. It makes a person who knows grammar wonder, “Can food WHAT?” The correct way to say and write it is canned food.
5. At. There is nothing wrong with the word itself; however, please do not use it at the end of the sentence! “Where’s the party at?” Wrong. “Where’s the party?” Correct. “Where you at?” Wrong, unless you’re purposely working on your coolness. Otherwise, it’s “Where are you?” One of my childhood friends, Jennifer Rodgers Shambaugh, has a tendency to use at at the end of her sentences. One time when I was home in Illinois, she asked, “Where’s it at?” I sweetly said, “Don’t end a sentence with at.” She thought for a minute and then said, “Where is it LOCATED???” That cracked me up. I said, “How about just ‘Where is it?’” She paused for a moment and then cracked up laughing. It is now a big joke with her family and mine.
One local Grammar Guardian sent me an email about reading “They don’t hate their parents music the way we hated our parents” in a local newspaper. This Grammar Guardian spotted both errors. (Can YOU spot them before reading the next sentence?) There should be an apostrophe after parents in both places in this sentence. The music belonged to the parents, making it possessive. And remember—it didn’t belong to one parent, which would be parent’s music. It belonged to more than one parent, so the correct way to write it is parents’ music. The second part of the sentence is actually rather comical because it sounds like the person writing it and his siblings/friends hated their parents. Rather, I believe the writer was referring to their parents’ music. It’s OK to leave music out, but parents needs an apostrophe at the end to, once again, show possession.
My youngest brother, Stephen, cringes when he hears people say these ones. Yikes! Once again, just get rid of ones, and you’ll be fine. I want these ones (Danger: Skin crawling!) as compared to I want these. What a difference!
This next pet peeve was sent to me by former “McAllenite” Veronica Correa. It drives Veronica crazy when people say heighth. Drop the last h. It is height.
Let’s end with a message I sent last week to a friend of mine who is a local news anchor. I asked her to tell one of her colleagues “a couple of more degrees” makes me crazy every time she says it. My friend declined to inform her colleague “a couple more degrees” is the correct way to say it.
On that note, let’s all hope every elf is focused on loading plenty of grammar books into Santa’s sleigh. Boy, are they needed!
Chris Ardis retired in May of 2013 following a 29-year teaching career. She now helps companies with business communications and social media and works as a sales coordinator for Tony Roma’s and Macaroni Grill. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.