Grammar Giggle – Year of the HORSE

I found this one on Twitter. The typist on this news headline apparently had his or her mind somewhere else when the dictation got to “Year of the Horse.”

Year of the HORSE

Grammar Giggle – Recipe Rock

I found this one while shopping with friends. Not only should “hand written” be one word, but they’ve actually managed to accomplish my number one pet peeve and used an apostrophe for a plural.

Recipe Rock

More Quickies!

quick-tips-for-flyersHere is a compilation of tidbits that didn’t quite warrant their own blog post, but are interesting enough to share.

  • Is it wreck havoc or wreak havoc? According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, wreck means “a vehicle, airplane, etc., that has been badly damaged or destroyed; a ruined or destroyed ship; an accident in which a car, airplane, train, etc., is badly damaged or destroyed.” On the other hand, wreak means “to cause (something very harmful or damaging)” and “bring about, cause <wreak havoc>.” So the correct phrase is to wreak havoc.
  • Personal pronouns like myselfhimself, herself, etc. can ONLY be used in certain circumstances:
    • to reflect back to the subject – found myself craving a nap on my day off.
    • to emphasize a noun or a pronoun that has already been expressed – The secretaries themselves did all the work for the buffet.
    • Do NOT use a compound personal pronoun unless the noun or pronoun to which it refers is in the same sentence.
      • The reservations are for the Smiths and myself. (There is nothing for myself to refer back to here, so it should say “the Smiths and me.”)
      • John and myself can meet on Tuesday. (It should be “John and I can meet on Tuesday.”)
  • Family terms using the prefix great or the suffix in-law should always be hyphenated. However, terms involving step or grand are kept solid.
    • My great-grandmother lived in Arkansas.
    • John’s son-in-law wanted to move his family to Alaska.
    • I love being a grandmother.
    • Sara’s stepchildren are a blessing in her life.

Pretty quick, huh? I hope you learned a little something. Remember to email any topics you would like to see covered to proofthatblog@gmail.com!

 

Grammar Giggle – Superbowl Pool

Found this one on Twitter.  It starts off well, but it looks like they saved all of their errors for the last sentence. Must be an interesting closet they have for the when-ner.

Superbowl apt

Grammar Giggle – Super . . . uh . . . BOWL

This one comes from Twitter in honor of Sunday’s big game. Be careful what kind of party platters your hosts are serving!

Super Bowl

Hyphenate Here, Hyphenate There, Everywhere We Hyphenate!

I see a lot of confusion over hypenated words like “follow-up,” “up-to-date,” “$40,000-a-year salary,” etc.

Before we dive into that, we will have a very basic grammar lesson. I’ve admitted before that I am NOT a grammar guru and these parts of speech sometimes confuse me, so we will get basic here (for my sake if nothing else!). An adjective answers the questions what kindhow many, or which one. An adjective modifies the meaning of a noun or a pronoun. A noun is a person, place, object, idea, quality, or activity. A verb is a word that expresses an activity or a state of being. An adverb answers the question whenwherewhyin what manner, or to what extent. Now that that’s out of the way, on to our discussion.

The basic rule is that where the word that may need hyphenation serves as an adjective phrase describing a noun, it is hypenated. Where it serves as a verb and adverb, it does not get hypenated.

  • The follow-up report will be on your desk in the morning. (Here, follow-up [adjective phrase] describes the kind of report [noun] so is hypenated.)
  • I will follow up [verb/adverb] with a report [noun] on business done so far this month. (In this sentence, follow up is a verb phrase–it is the action I will take on the report.)
  • The up-to-date computer program was able to do a lot more and more quickly.
  • The information is as up to date as possible with the information I have.
  • The new job afforded him a $40,000-a-year salary.
  • The salary at his new job was $40,000 a year.

You would also hyphenate a compound adjective when it occurs before a noun where those words are not in their “normal” order or “normal” form and need the hyphen to hold the words together. For instance:

  • The high-tech equipment makes my job easier. (It is equipment that reflects a high level of technology.)
  • I don’t envy speakers on the rubber-chicken circuit. (A speaking circuit where banquet food [usually “rubber chicken”] is served to participants.)

Where these phrases appear other than before the noun but are in an inverted order and not in a “normal” order, retain the hyphen.

  • The new equipment was very high-tech. (The equipment reflected a high level of technology.)
  • My purchase was tax-exempt. (The purchase was exempt from taxes.)

The same basic rule applies to compounds with numbers:

  • A 12-story building. (A building of 12 stories.)
  • sixth-grade student. (A student in the sixth grade.)

If you can’t figure it out, find the noun and if the words potentially in need of a hyphen are describing that noun, it should be hyphenated. If they are acting as the sentence’s verb and adverb, do not hyphenate.

Hopefully that helps you decide when to hyphenate (and when NOT to!).

Because Awesome!

 

I’ve seen a couple of places a new “Word of the Year” as voted on by the American Dialect Society (“ADS”) for 2013. The ADS fancies itself “the best” because, like the Oscars, it is the last group to choose the “Word of the Year” at its January conference. ADS’s word for 2013 is because–both as its Word of the Year and as the most useful word of 2013. Why did they choose because? First some background on the ADS. It is a group of linguists, lexicographers, and other language scholars. This group holds an annual three-day conference full of academic sessions and paper presentations and holds it in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America so they have nearly 200 people voting on their Word of the Year and other awards. The ADS even has a New Words Committee. A whole committee dedicated to seeking out new words. But on to why because is the ADS Word of the Year.

According to Ben Zimmer, chair of ADS’s New Words Committee, because is “. . . a very old word that’s deeply embedded in the language, which people are finding new ways to use, and very often it’s intentionally laying with established rules of grammar. I think the fact that this is such a linguistic innovation really appealed to a room full of linguists.”

So in addition to using because before a full clause or with the word of, it is apparently now appropriate to use it to precede a noun, like because job, or before an adjective, like because awesome

Other ADS winners were most creative (catfish, which is to misrepresent oneself online–usually on a social website), most unnecessary (sharknado, made famous by a made-for-TV movie), and most likely to succeed (binge-watch, which is watching several episodes of a show in one sitting).

It will definitely take me a while to get used to this one, but hopefully I can get used to it because awesome! (It will take a LOT of getting used to!)

 

Grammar Giggle – What Kind of Shot?

A friend sent this one to me. Not only do you need to be aware of leaving letters out, but you also need to be aware of slang or local language. I’m just not sure I’m brave enough to even test these shots.

Flu shots

Grammar Giggle – Jucer

I’ve heard juicing is good for you, but I’m not sure that’s what this piece of Black & Decker equipment does. At least that’s not exactly what the label says.

Black and Decker Jucer

Not Only More Subject/Verb Agreement But Also Intervening Clauses

questionWe’ll look at more subject/verb agreement today. If you missed last week’s topic, please see “Singular Verb, Plural Subject, Both . . . and, It’s All About the Agreement.”

When you have two subjects connected by and and preceded by eacheverymany a, or many an, use a singular verb.

  • Every car, truck, and van on the street is going 15 miles over the speed limit.

The same sentence without every would use a plural verb.

  • All cars, trucks, and vans on the street are going 15 miles over the speed limit.

When you have two singular words joined by oreither . . . orneither . . . nornot only . . . but also, the subject is singular and so you use a singular verb.

  • Neither the bride nor the groom was ready to walk down the aisle.
  • Either basil or mint is called for in the recipe.
  • Not only billing but also his expense reimbursement needs to get done on the first day of the month.

If, however, the subject is two or more plural words joined by oreither . . . orneither . . . nornot only . . . but also, then the subject is plural and you must use a plural verb.

  • Neither the paralegals nor the attorneys have any time for that project.
  • Either red roses or white daisies make her happy.

Just to keep it confusing, if you have a singular and a plural subject joined by oreither . . . orneither . . . nornot only . . . but also, your verb should agree with the nearest part of the subject. It usually sounds better to have plural verbs, so where possible, you should try to move the plural subject closest to the verb whenever you can.

  • Neither Joe nor his brothers are going to the beach.
  • Neither Joe’s brothers nor Joe is going to the beach.
  • Not only research knowledge but also grammar skills are important in a job search.

When you have an intervening clause between subject and verb (or multiple subjects and a verb), ignore the intervening clause to determine if you need a singular or plural verb.

  • The point of the exercises was to teach correct use of apostophes.
  • Only one of the examinees was prepared with supplies.

I hope that helps with subject/verb agreement. If you have any questions about this or have another topic you would like to see covered, please let me know at proofthatblog@gmail.com. Also remember that you can add your email address to the “Subscribe to Blog via Email” area on the top right hand side of the page and the posts will be emailed to you! Lastly, if you are learning something, please share with others who might be interested. Thanks!