Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Sound Smarter

I got the February 2010 issue of Reader's Digest last week, and there's an article that made me think of all of you.

How to Sound Smarter

Okay, yeah. While it sounds like I'm insulting you, I'd never. Not since I lurve you like I do. It was more what's in the article, "the Reader's digest version of those rules for talking and writing--the ones you missed in high school." See? Now it makes much more sense.

Some rules won't surprise you, others may make you cringe (guilty, as charged), while perhaps one or two will have you scratchin' your... whatever it is you scratch. Anyway, here are my favorites, as they appear in the article (bolding and emphasis theirs).

You never mean: Between you and I
You always mean: Between you and me
Why: Between you and I sounds fancy, therefore right, but don't be so quick to belittle Cookie Monster ("Me want cookies!"). In this case, me is correct because it's the object of the preposition between.

You almost never mean: I feel badly
You almost always mean: I feel bad
Why: Is your sense of touch physically impaired (almost never) or are you feeling some guilt after screwing up (almost always)?

You never mean: The reason is because
You always mean: The reason is that
Why: The reason is that the word reason implies because. Likewise, why say "the reason why" when you can say "the reason"?

You never mean: The person that
You always mean: The person who
Why: A human is a "who." Anything else (yes, including animals) is a "that."

You never mean: Could of
You always mean: Could have
Why: This error pops up because of the similar pronunciations. But remember, every sentence needs a verb: "I could have written a better cover letter."
[Janna's note: I could've written a better cover letter sounds like I could of written a better cover letter. Thus, confusion.]

You never mean: Very unique
You always mean: Unique
Why: Unique things and people are one of a kind, absolute.

You never mean: Everyone has their grammar hang-ups
You always mean: Everyone has his or her grammar hang-ups
Why: Everyone, everybody, and close cousin each are singular, so words that refer to them should also be singular. Or, since we all have our grammar hang-ups, you could just rephrase the sentence.

For more examples, see the latest issue of Reader's Digest.

So did you learn anything new?


Capri K @ No Whining Allowed said...

Probably of way worse than these!
Thanks for the edjamacashun!

Adam said...

Nope, I say every one of those correctly.

No, really.

I'm serious!

Pfft. Fine.


Melanie Hooyenga said...

The only one I do is the last one, and I know it's wrong, I just hate to say "his or hers". Great list!

Michelle Gregory said...

whew! glad i already sound smart.

Joanne said...

I'm a stickler for "the person that/the person who." It's amazing how often I see it written the wrong way, in books, newspapers, here and there. Always nice to review these reminders though, thanks for sharing!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

That was fun and I didn't end up scratching anything. ;)
~ Wendy

Jody Hedlund said...

I write much more grammatically correct in my books than on my blog! I guess blogging feels less formal and more like a conversation. So I tend to stretch the rules!

Rosaria Williams said...

Good reminders.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for posting--I get lazy with grammar and really should speak correctly.

Angie Muresan said...

I really hate admitting that I do ANYTHING wrong. Yet, I am guilty of the third one almost all of the time.

Patti Lacy said...

I always struggle with everyone, etc., being singular.

Thank the Lord for editors and critique partners!!!

Love it, Janna.
I feel smarter!!

Happy MLK Day.


Tana said...

OK, I'm guilty too. At least I'm learning right?

JKB said...

Guilty as charged.


Melissa Amateis said...

These are terrific! Never knew that "between you and me" is the correct way.

Carol J. Garvin said...

No scratching here, but have to admit to misusing "between you and me" depending on where it occurs in the sentence. I never think grammar is difficult until I discover something I've been saying/writing wrong!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Oh, yeah, that I'm grammatically challenged for sure.

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced there are rules that I will screw-up for life.


Anonymous said...

yep yep yep!!!! Probably my biggest screw up is who/whom. I don't get it. I will never get it. Maybe because I'm a southerner...and I've never said "whom" in my life. LOL!

Kara said...

Oh, I mess up so many of these! My husband is great at catching these, and usually pointing them out to me:)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janna -

Great post! Thanks for pointing out some common grammar errors. :)


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Thanks dear, I DID learn something and gleaned a few good laughs. "VERY UNIQUE" is one of my pet peeves, as is really unique.

E.B. White must twirl in his grave.

Thanks again,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Deb Shucka said...

Good old Readers Digest! Thanks for the brush-up.

Karen said...

Oh gosh, you mean I have to change all my thinking? :P

septembermom said...

I say "I feel badly" too much.

Thanks for the tips Janna!

Heather Sunseri said...

That is a great list. Thanks, Janna.

Jill said...

I knew most of those, but I juss talk this way 'cause it's easier.

Unspoken said...

Yikes, this was a vcery unique post ;0!

Lori said...

I love this things although I have learned English in school as a foreign language so I make different mistakes than you guys, who are native speakers.

Jessica Nelson said...

Hahaa! Love the list. btw, I thought I came here yesterday but I guess I just saw your title, meant to stop by and didn't.
I've messed up badly and bad before. :-)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, I love this Janna!!! Thanks for sharing with us.

I cringe when someone says "Could of."

But unlike Adam, I've been guilty of most of the others.

The Hat Chick said...

I am guilty of the "everyone" mistake. My English teacher would cringe.

Anonymous said...

I learned that I did learn like two on your list and the rest I am very uniquely guilty of.... :O)

Linda Hoye said...

It's always good to have a refresher! Thanks for sharing!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Yes I did.

This brings to mind when my son was a toddler and I took him to the dr. I was telling the doctor again his symptoms and I said, "My son has a temperature." I stopped, chuckled and said, "Well of course he has a temperature, I really meant to say he has a fever." The dr. said I was the first parent to realize and say that out loud to him...the difference.

Christopher said...

I never could of imagined... err better go back for another read.

I've actually learned to get that one out of my writing, but out of my vocabulary? Much more difficult.

Terri Tiffany said...

That I don't know much at all!!

Kathy said...

Actually, I knew all of those.