Thursday 13: Grammar faux pas

Listed here are 13 lesser-known language mistakes that drive me batty. Things you probably didn’t know, and probably don’t care, but I am going to tell you anyway. Maybe, just maybe, you will learn a little something and will sound just a bit smarter to those around you in the meantime.

1. Entitled. Books, articles, programs and messages are never “entitled” to anything. They are “titled.” Always. This one always makes me grin when I groan because it seems people use this to try to sound just a bit more sophisticated, and they really end up sounding foolish. This is a common, common mistake I hear all the time on tv and on the radio.

2. Myself. Similarly, don’t use “myself” to try to sound sophisticated. As a general rule, only use “myself” if you’ve already used “I” in your sentence and “myself” is not the subject. “I will do it myself. I will hold myself responsible.” Not, “She and myself will be held responsible.”

3. Nauseous. People generally feel “nauseated” (literally “sick at the stomach”), unless they think they themselves are the ones who are creating nausea. “Nauseous” literally means “sickening.” 

4. Literally. Unless you really are dead from being tired, you are not “literally dead tired.”

5. An historic. It’s an honor that I live in a historic district in a historic house. Use “a” when there is a hard “h” sound at the beginning of the word, and “an” when it is silent, and there is an “o” or other vowel sound.

6. Myriad of. To be honest, I don’t have definitive proof on this one but my gut says there’s no “of.” There’s myriad reasons why I think this, starting with the definition of myriad, which is “thousands of.”

7. None/neither are. This is a tricky one because it just sounds wrong. But none and neither are singular. So, “None (not one) of us is going to the movie, and neither of my kids is needing a babysitter.”

8. The reason is because. Clean up this needlessly wordy speach by using just one of the two phrases. “The reason is …” or “Because …”

9. Where are you at? This is called ending a sentence with a prepositional phrase, you might remember this from grammar school, so it is a no-no. That’s not why it bothers me so much though, it just sounds bad. Simply say “Where are you?” or “I would like to go” (without the  “with”).

10. Hopefully. Unless the subject is in a state of hope, use “I hope” instead. “I hope to go to the store later.” instead of “Hopefully, I will go to the store later” (meaning, I will go to the store later feeling hopeful).

11. More importantly. Should use “more  important” instead, although it’s usually best just to rewrite to avoid.

12. Irregardless. Should be “regardless.” Always.

13. Intensive purposes. Nope, it’s “intents and purposes.”

If you actually got to the end of the list, thank you! I appreciate you letting me vent. If you are a word nerd like me, feel free to post any faux pas I might have missed that are like fingernails on a chalkboard to you


13 thoughts on “Thursday 13: Grammar faux pas

  1. Ending sentences with prepositions bothers me too. I think it’s an easy trap to fall in because we often speak this way.

    Two others that bother me are the misuses of there/their and too/to.

  2. Overused apostrophes are my pet peeve. I almost don’t dare put them where they belong. Another is turning adjectives like “everyday” into nouns. If you are open every day, it is two words. If it is an everyday dress, it is one.

    Concerning “myriad”, I think it is “thousands of things” and “myriads of things” or “a myriad things” and “a thousand things.” Just my feeling.

    I enjoyed this post. Glad I’m not the only one who cares about English.
    Love ya, Nita

  3. I’m afraid “Where you at?” is a part of the vernacular here in the South. So much so that even a grammarphile like me (or should I say myself?) uses it occasionally.

  4. I agree with you on all of these, especially #7. I always make sure I use singular with none, neither and either.

    I am with you on #10 too but I think we are fighting a losing battle there!

  5. Okay…so I did a little digging because I kept hearing about “nauseous” vs. “nauseated”. According to Webster’s New American Dictionary and the definition of nauseous can be BOTH causing nausea or being affected with nausea.

  6. Jen,
    Yes, the mistake has been “commonized” by society, which is too lazy or uneducated to know the difference. The dictionary reflects that. It also has slang and swear words in it …

  7. I think the beauty about language is that it’s ever changing– reflecting the times, styles, and cultures. Besides, if we can’t use the dictionary as a reference because “word nerds” are afraid of change then what should we use?

  8. I don’t disagree, and I am not afraid of change. New and interesting words being added to our language is part of what makes it beautiful. But why not use the words we have for what they are meant to be used for, instead of letting them lose their meaning so that we have fewer words to choose from? English is one of the most diverse languages available. I’d like to keep it that way.

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