Okay, time for a little levity. No sticky situations, anxious anecdotes or dicey dilemmas from the commercial writing world. Just some good old-fashioned griping – about grammar. Got the idea for this post a few weeks back when I managed to run afoul of a friend’s pet peeve by writing, “I’ll try and do _____.” Ouch.
Well. He wrote back, deservedly taking me to task, explaining in exquisite detail:
“I must say — with all due respect — I HATE when writers and others say ‘try and’ (as you’ve done here) rather than the more accurate and appropriate, ‘try to.’ ‘Try and’ suggests TWO different acts: trying something, and then something else (e.g., ‘Try and be a better person.’ So you’re saying, ‘try’ (whatever) AND ‘be a better person,’ too. Whereas ‘try to be a better person’ says precisely what you’re meaning: try to be better.”
Just getting warmed up, he continued, “Almost as bad as when 99.9% of people say ‘could’ care less, when they really mean, and should be saying ‘couldn’t’ care less.”
Voila! Blog fodder. My pet peeves? Beyond the ubiquitous “you’re/your,” “it’s/its” and “compliment/complement”? Well, I’ll let you guys tell yours, and perhaps delve a little deeper while we’re at, and maybe we’ll teach each other something new in the process.
I’ll leave you with this…
What’s one of your grammatical pet peeves (one at a time, please, so we can encourage more contributions from more of you…)?
If you’re an English purist, what are your “grammatical grudges”: those things that have been accepted into the vernacular, but IYHO, should never have been?
What are some obscure/esoteric points of grammar that so many people get consistently wrong, but you know better? 😉
Any fascinating grammatical/linguistic trivia you care to share (word origins, evolution of expressions, etc.)?