Saturday, December 29, 2007

English part II

Hey, that doesn't make much sense: "English part II" using Roman numerals... :)

Some more phrases that irk me with their incorrectness:

"could of" vs. "could have" - example: "I could of written this correctly." I think this stems from the contraction "could've" being miswritten (and previously misinterpreted), since "could've" often sounds like "could of" - even though it's not. "Of" is not a verb! The verb is "have."

The various confusions of "you're" (meaning "you are") and "your" (meaning "belonging to you"). "Your speaking you're words incorrectly" for instance - should be, "You're speaking your words correctly now."

Similarly the confusions between "their" (belonging to them), "they're" (they are), and "there" (not here). "There taking they're confusions their" for instance - should be, "They're taking their confusions there."

And "it's" vs. "its" - "it's" is "it is" and "its" is "belonging to it." (Wasn't that a fun sentence to read, with all the quotation marks, ises, and so forth; I think I made up "ises" to mean "the plural of is.") This one really bugs me, and I've seen this mistake made in a Toyota web site (I contacted them to let them know they had it wrong, and asked for a Sienna as a reward for finding their mistake, but they never even bothered to say "Thank you" in a reply!)

There's of course the various possessive pronoun variants, and plural vs. possessive vs. plural possessive. And contractions (such as "there's"). There's... while that typically would mean "there is" I wonder if there's a situation where "there's" could be the possessive of "there" - that is, a possessive of not here, not a belonging to them. Let's see... "Here's a car lot and there's a car lot; this car lot is here's and that car lot is there's." (Confused yet?)

Too, to, and two are also frequently confused, as are let's and lets, but let's (not lets) move on.

Then, of course, the Latin abbreviations... etc., et al., i.e., e.g., etc. (That last was the conclusion of the list, not a repetition of the first item in the list, by the way.) My favorite is the confusion between "i.e." (which is Latin "id est," meaning "that is") and the lesser known and used "e.g." (which is Latin "exempli gratia," meaning "for example"). All too often people simply use "i.e." without knowing its (not it's) true meaning. I.e. should be used to clarify a statement, not to offer a single example that doesn't fully qualify the entire subject matter; in the latter case, "e.g." is appropriate. Let me offer an example:

Take your medicine three times daily in even intervals, i.e., eight hours apart. - this is the correct use of "i.e." in that it explains (or more fully qualifies) the preceding statement.

Take your medicine three times daily, at least three hours between doses; e.g., 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm. - in this case, "i.e." would be incorrect, because 9, 12, and 3 is only one example of a valid way to take the medicine, not the only example. In this sentence, had "i.e." been substituted for "e.g.," the statement would read: "Take your medicine three times daily, at least three hours between doses; that is, 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm." - but the recipient could equally as well take the medicine at 9 am, 1 pm, and 5 pm.

Note: this is not a medical post - please do not follow these instructions for taking any medicine (especially for taking Mountain Dew to help clear up a cold; feel free to take the Mountain Dew as frequently as you desire, but not so frequent to cause death by caffeine, which in my case would be roughly 230 cans).

Also, "etc." is Latin for "et cetera," meaning "and so forth" (although that definition is strangely not given at the Merriam Webster site). Thus it's (not its) incorrect to say, "and etc." - that would be "and and so forth" - and sounds really dumb. Similarly, "et al." is Latin for "et alii (masculine), et aliae (feminine), or et alia (neuter)," meaning "and others," so "and et al." would be "and and others" which, again, sounds really dumb.

Another thing: punctuation. A period goes within a closing quotation mark. An exclamation point or question mark goes within if it's part of the original quote, but may (often should) be put outside for clarity when the original quote wasn't a question or exclamation. And apostrophes are often horribly misused.

Ok, enough for now (one reader will note that I often don't capitalize or punctuate "ok" in my writings, too). Go write or speak something correctly and make this whole thing worthwhile! :)


Tony M said...

I'll beat my friend Dean to the punch on this comment: "There's... pronoun variants"... ok, I goofed, I admit it! Should have been, "There're... pronoun variants"... :)

amateur said...

Whew. I thought, when you said you'd put that line of reasoning into a full-length post, that you were going to hold up my questions as a public example of how not to think. Taking them to their flawed, logical conclusion, faulty reasoning, that sort of thing.

amateur said...

Oh, forgot something...

Oh. I didn't know that about i.e. and e.g. I always wanted to take Latin but they did away with it before I could. I've tried on an off -- have "done" that first chapter a number of times! -- but that's no excuse. One shouldn't bandy about abbrevations or Latin terms if one only has the vaguest sense of what they mean.

Tony M said...

Yeah... well... I learned my Latin abbreviations (primarily) from Dungeons & Dragons books back in the 80s...

Note: I never turned into a psychotic, deranged lunatic from playing... but I have turned into an ellipsis freak, it seems... :)

Actually, I've not played D&D (or AD&D) in a long time. But I do read Piers Anthony's Xanth books...

(And sorry to worry you about the "continuation" post... :)

amateur said...

Heh heh...I've also picked up info in diverse places.

Hmm, my husband used to play D&D as well. Speaking of which, bet you enjoyed the game as much as he did last night (and I did for his sake, although I only watched the last quarter). I really ought to introduce you two. ;)

Tony M said...

Yes, I very much enjoyed last night's game. Wait, last night's stomping of the Dallas Cowboys by the rejuvenated Redskins!

I hope they continue playing into the playoffs like they have the last four games. Their pass protection was very good, which is something that was lacking in the earlier phases of the season, and Todd Collins... all I can say is "Wow!" Even Joe Gibbs (according to the announcers at last night's game) has been (pleasantly) surprised at his capability.

Anyway, this is way off the topic... maybe I should start a new Redskins post...

amateur said...

Just don't get hubby started on Wes Welker. He's been following him since he saw him play live at Texas Tech.

I like when subjects go off topic!! Of course, this is your blog...