It wouldn’t be a December column without a “Top 10” list and a countdown, so here we go with a countdown of the Top 10 Grammatical Errors that Make Grammar Guardians Crazy:
10. There’s vs. There are: This error is becoming more and more frequent. I have read countless quotations in the newspaper where “there’s” was used incorrectly. The quotation will read something like this: “There’s a lot of questions that still need to be answered.” “Questions” is plural, so you cannot use “there’s.” The correct way to say and write it is, “There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered.”
9. To vs. Too: I drive two of my nieces, Cassidy and Cydney, crazy with this one. When we communicate via text or on Facebook and I type, “Love you,” they often respond with, “Love you to.” When they do this, I type back “too.” I can picture them rolling their eyes or making a sound to release their frustration, but I love to correct them on this one. If you are referring to “too” much of anything—too dirty, too tired, too funny, too angry, too nice—you must use “too.” You also use “too” for “also,” as in “I love you, too.”
8. That vs. Who: My mom, a fellow Grammar Guardian, said this is her biggest pet peeve. It drives her crazy when she reads or hears something like this: He is the man that robbed the convenience store last week. Because the subject is “the man,” you need “who” in place of “that.”
7. Went vs. Gone: One of my “Grammatical Missions” is to spread the word that when you use a helping verb, such as “have,” with the verb “go,” it requires the use of the past participle, which is “gone.” How often do you hear something like, “I should have went to the game last night, but I was too tired”? “Went” is the past tense, which is incorrect. It should be, “I should have gone to the game last night, but I was too tired.”
6. Less vs. Fewer: Simple rule. If you can count the item in question, use “fewer.” If you can’t, use “less” (except when you are referring to time, money or distance). In the grocery store, as we’ve covered before in this column, the sign at the express check-out should read “10 or fewer items” rather than “10 or less items” because you can count them; however, if you are talking about water, because you can’t count it, you would say we have “less” water in our reservoirs than we did a couple of months ago.
5. Nobles vs. Noble: I can’t even begin to count the number of times a week I hear students and adults alike mention “Barnes and Nobles.” Although it might flow from the tongue more easily, “Barnes” has an “s.” “Noble” doesn’t.
4. Alot vs. A lot: Do you know when to use “alot “ and when to use “a lot”? I’ll give you a quick and easy rule. NEVER use “alot.” There is no such word.
3. Anyways vs. Anyway: The same rule applies here. “Anyways” is not a word. What bothers me is that I have even heard some of our local TV news anchors using it recently. Check the dictionary. It does appear now. The definition reads, “Nonstandard.” Translation? Don’t use it.
2. Your welcome vs. You’re welcome: We’ve covered this one on several occasions and yet it remains a common error. The only way you can use “your” with welcome is if that welcome belongs to someone, as in, “This is your welcome.” I’ve never heard of a welcome belonging to someone. Rather, you want to write, “You are welcome,” but you shorten it and write, “You’re welcome.”
1. Graduate vs. Graduate from: Moving into the number one slot this year, this grammatical error is being used in print media and is even used on national TV news. A person cannot graduate high school. He must graduate “from” high school. Likewise, a person does not live “across” Luby’s; rather, she lives “across from” Luby’s.
Let’s start 2011 off right by avoiding these Top 10 Grammatical Errors so all of the Grammar Guardians out there can remain sane.
Happy New Year!
Chris Ardis is in her 27th year of teaching. You can visit her website at chrisardis.com.