My grammar be’s ebonics, gin tonic and chronic

A short listicle with comments of recent-ish grammer/speling/werd usage pet peeves** that compelled me to contact the offending authors:

1. Mano y mano: Typically used in sports to describe a one on one battle by people who don’t speak Spanish. What they should use is “mano a mano” which means “hand to hand”. Mano y mano = hand and hand–like they’re holding hands. It’s not just wrong, it means the opposite of what they’re trying to say. Ironic (see below).

2. Weary/wary/leery: Two of these words mean the same thing. Two of them rhyme. The two that rhyme do not have the same meaning. It’s tricky, but weary means tired. Wary/leery mean cautious. Yet I see a lot of people use weary when they mean to use one of the other two.

3. Use of an apostrophe to pluralize a word: It used to be the rule that one NEVER uses an apostrophe when forming a plural of a word. Some grammar guides today allow for the use of an apostrophe in the plural forms of letters, numbers and words used as words.
Examples of proper usage:
“How many number 1’s are there in line?”
“We put x’s on the wrong answers.”
“The no’s resounded in the classroom.”
Those exceptions make sense, but I see people using the apostrophe to form the plural of ordinary words. I notice this all the time in restaurant menus.

4. Lose/Loose: Those are still two different words with two different meanings. Yet I see people use loose in place of lose but I very rarely see the inverse. Why is that?

5. Irony: The word has a specific meaning. It does not mean “anything that is unexpected”. Granted, the specific meaning is tricky. The definition is “The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.” The definition signals that if the opposite is signified, you’ll be on solid ground. So I try to use the term irony only in that context. If you ever want to ask the intertrons whether or not a statement is ironic, this site provides that service.

6. Literally: I saw an ad for a shirt the other day that says “The misuse of literally is making me figuratively insane”. Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes when people misuse literally I think they’re trying to sound intelligent. Other times I think that literally has become a verbal tic for a lot of people. I’ll defer the rest on this topic to David Cross in the above video clip.

Any other of these types of pet peeves out there?

**Disclaimer: I freely admit that my grammar, spelling and word choices are not 100% correct. Feel free to point them out so I can rid myself of bad habits.

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8 thoughts on “My grammar be’s ebonics, gin tonic and chronic

  1. Oh, I forgot one. Chai Tea. That phrase is redundant because chai is derived from cha which means tea.

  2. Mispronunciations of hara-kiri. There’s a Chris Brown song where he pronounces it awry-cawry. But LITERALLY is the big one. It doesn’t bother me so much as it bemuses me. I start imaging that whatever thing happened in exactly the way they said it did. “Really, you actually burned your tongue off? But you still have a tongue I don’t get it”

  3. Pingback: Where’s my imaginary twin? | ranchandsyrup

  4. Utilizing the word “utilize” as a direct synonym of use makes me want to literally claw my eyeballs out.

    • Heh. Good one Mitch. I think I mis-utilize that from time to time.
      I also like this example on the your/you’re question: the difference between your and you’re is the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.

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