Happy July to all you Grammar Guardians out there who have been fortunate enough to survive the deadly heat.
The first Grammar Guardian lesson today relates to the idea of record-setting heat and the need to shed a bit of clothing to stay cool. After last month’s column, one reader’s email caused me to laugh out loud. This reader received an email from a supervisor asking employees to “Bare with us” during some type to restructuring. As I read the e-mail, I pictured all of the employees taking off their clothes and sitting around in the nude. After all, the supervisor asked them to “bare” with management.
He should have written, “Bear with us” because to endure or suffer through something is to “bear” it. In fact, “bear” has several more meanings than “bare.” I hear “bare” used mainly when someone is talking about a room that is empty or devoid of furnishings (The room is bare.), when someone must pack lightly (Take only the bare necessities.) or when clothing is not covering part or all of one’s body (In those Daisy Dukes, her legs are practically bare.)
Several readers have sent e-mails to me regarding “could care less” versus “couldn’t care less.” This one can be a bit confusing because “could care less” seems to roll off the tongue easier; however, the correct way to say it is “couldn’t care less.” Suppose you just got a new hairstyle. One of your friends tells you that someone said it’s too short. If you said, “I could care less,” what you’re saying is that something else COULD make you care less than you care about this person’s opinion. But if you say, “I couldn’t care less,” you are making it clear that you care so little about what that person thinks of your hairstyle that you could NOT care any less than you do.
Peruse the comments readers leave under online newspaper stories, and you will quickly learn there are many professional bloggers. (I use the term “professional” loosely.) One thing I’ve noted is that many of them have poor grammatical skills. While I understand the grammar rules that apply to written and spoken English do not seem to apply to texting, instant messaging and blogging, if you read enough of the comments, you will certainly see what I mean.
Probably the most common error I see in blogs is something I have written about many times: a lot. It is not two words under some circumstances and one word under others. It is always two words. Grammar Guardians out there, we are failing in our efforts to teach others to stop using “alot.”
Another common blog entry involves the use of “loose” for “lose.” It baffles me why people misuse these. Not only are they spelled differently. They even sound different. “Loose” means that something is too big or is not tight. The doorknob may be loose, so someone needs to tighten it. You may have lost weight, resulting in loose clothing. It is pronounced “loos.”
Some examples of “lose”: the opposite of win; if you are careless with your keys you may risk “losing” them; shedding unwanted pounds (“lose” weight); and “losing” your temper. It is pronounced “looz.”
Perhaps one way to remember the difference is to think of a goose trying to wear the clothes of a moose. The clothes, of course, would be loose.
Until next month, try to stay cool while working hard to Guard Our Grammar.
Chris Ardis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.