• Gina G. Scala

10 Grammar Pet Peeves; 1 Reason Why It's Important

I am an avid reader and since May that includes audiobooks. I recently listened to a book where the supporting characters were from New Jersey. Let me be clear: not all of us sound like we stepped off of the set of the Sopranos. As a native Jersey Girl, I am aware that we tend to have our own relationship with the English language. Our grammar often leaves a bit to be desired, such as dropping the -g in any words ending in ‘ing.’ By way of example, ‘swimming’ converts to ‘swimmin’ and ‘saying’ to ‘sayin.’

I will not discuss how every non-Jersey native incorrectly pronounces Trenton, or how Delawareans apply an apostrophe to the City of Newark, as if it is two separate words. Whether it is the spoken or written word, grammar is an essential part of our language skills. When we learn syntax, we learn the methodology behind arranging and choosing words. Punctuation clarifies intent and meaning.

Most people pay little attention to grammar outside of an educational or work setting, and let’s be honest: often, proper grammar, and punctuation skills are lacking among the workforce. Before Twitter made 140 characters the “thing to do,” attention to grammar was nearly obsolete regarding the written word. We’ve compiled a list of our Top Ten Grammar Pet Peeves. Check them out:

  1. Overuse of the word that: I am not sure you’re going to find this one in any “official” grammar usage book, but it is the biggest peeve I have about grammar. Most people don’t realize “that” is a filler about 90 percent of the time. Yes, there are exceptions, but generally, it’s a filler. Rule of thumb: for any “filler” word: If the sentence makes sense when omitting the filler word, leave it out.

  2. Over vs. more than: The Associated Press changed their stance on over and more than as interchangeable. I disagree. While it might be widely accepted, it’s incorrect in my opinion. “Over” references to a place. “The plane is over there.” “More than” refers to something numerical. More than 50 people were expected to attend. Again, it is a personal preference determined by your writing style, but to me, these two are not interchangeable.

  3. Sentences ending with prepositions: This is tied for second place on my list of pet peeves, but for the sake of simplicity, it’s at number three. The reason this drives me to distraction is because it’s lazy writing. This might sound harsh, but lazy writing makes for horrific reading. If you’re writing and the sentence ends in a preposition, restructure your sentence!

  4. Affect vs. Effect. “Affect” is a verb. To affect something means to change or influence. “Effect” is usually a noun. An effect is due to a cause. High tide forces road closures, affecting many people on the small island. Assessing the disaster’s effect involves evaluating economic activity that might be lost.

  5. Everyday vs. every day: “Everyday” suggests something that is routine. Every day refers to a single day. I ride my bike to work every day; stopping for water is an everyday occurrence.

  6. Mismatched subjects and verbs: Matching singular and plural subjects with singular or plural verbs is called agreement. It looks like this: She confesses she is anxious about moving.

  7. Alot, a lot and allot: Alot isn't a word. Want to convey someone has many things? Michael has a lot of hockey helmets. Allot is used to convey you've allocated money or time toward something. Sophia allots 30 minutes each morning to read to her puppies.

  8. Misuse of which: “Which” is a relative pronoun that gets confused with that and who. Use which when you include extra information – it then becomes a non-restrictive clause because whether the information is included doesn’t impact the sentence.

  9. Comma splice: This happens when a comma improperly links two independent clauses. He’s an exceptional athlete, he’ll go far. This is an example of how many people speak. But in writing, it’s incorrect and makes your writing appear clumsy.

  10. Acronyms: I don’t dislike ALL acronyms, only the ones that replace real words: IDK for I don’t know; TTYL for talk to you later; G8 for great; and UR for you are – just to name a few. I am guilty of doing it in text messages and certain social media platforms, however it’s seeping into the professional realm, and that is unacceptable.

Final Thought:

My dad took a continuing education class when I was child, and the professor made this declaration in class, “It’s better to say I is rich than I am poor.” I couldn’t disagree more and here’s why – whether we realize it, we judge each other by our use of language, be it spoken or written. Disagree? Check out the episode of “King of Queens” when Carrie wants to lose her accent because she feels it’s holding her back at work.