How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Bad Grammar

Global pandemics tend to mellow me out. At least as regards my longstanding intolerance of bad spelling and grammar. Not long ago, I’d spot a literary faux pas and blow a gasket.

These days, I just chuckle, shrug and have another beer. We have more important things to worry about now, right? So all you language abusers, have at it. I’m all good…especially with respect to these most prevalent errors…


Undoubtedly overcompensating for the common childhood error of misusing objective case (“Me and Jimmy are going to the game”), today’s adults have turned the tables. They’re now overwhelmingly misusing subjective case. (“Many issues have arisen between he and I.”) I’ve even witnessed seasoned journalists succumb to this beaut. Is no one the wiser? Anyone? Bueller? Naaaahh.

Sure, there was a time when I’d rant about headlines like “Luxury Living At It’s Best!” and painstakingly advise on the comparative usage and spellings of “its” (possession, dammit!) vs. “it’s” (it is, dammit!). But “its” seems to have disappeared from the lexicon years ago. Am I worried? Nope. RIP, ITS.

Subtlety has a short shelf life among us humans. Maybe because the distinction between these two words is on the finer side (“number” and “fewer” for countable things like widgets, “amount” and “less” for non-countable things like water) it’s understandable that folks finally tossed two of the words completely and went with the other two exclusively. “Number” and “fewer” have fallen victim to “amount” and “less,” rendering ubiquitous references to “amount of people, “less cars,” etc. My eighth-grade English teacher would blanch. Good thing she’s dead.

It’s kind of ironic that while everyone has rushed en masse to the apostrophe’d “it’s,” they’ve rushed away from the equally apostrophe’d “they’re.” Today’s most common lazy way out is to just use “their” for everything. “Their you go.” “Their all on sale!” I gave up on this a while back. Now I just SMH with superior bemusement.

Oh, you’re wondering about you’re/your and two/too/to? Meh, don’t bother. Have at it. Oh, and could you crack me another brew?

Disclaimer: Not to worry, clients! The above notwithstanding, I’m still the same ornery language perfectionist when it comes to my own work. Rest assured that while the rest of the English-speaking world wreaks havoc, ol’ reliable here has your back. No one will call you illiterate on my watch.

4 comments on “How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Bad Grammar
Steve BenkoSays April 15, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Good heavens, man! Don’t let isolation turn your mind to mush! It’s precisely at times like this that we must redouble our efforts! Every day I hear “than him” or “than me” when it should be “than he” or “than I,” there being an implied “is” or “am” after it; and “the reason is because” which is redundant – it should be “the reason is that” or “It’s because.” Snap out of it!


    John FatterossSays April 15, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    Haha. Thanks for the face slap, Steve. Not to worry. While I dismiss the transgressions of others, I’m still the same ornery perfectionist when it comes to my own writing. You and I will keep fighting the good fight!


RA BaumgartnerSays April 15, 2020 at 9:10 pm

I invite you to visit MY blog, where careful grammar and usage are revered and the bizarre world created by student errors is displayed in all its hilarious glory. Every error is certified to have been committed by one of my college students (unless, as in a very few examples, it is cited otherwise).


    John FatterossSays April 16, 2020 at 12:57 am

    I will, Ruth!



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