February 27, 2014

Cabin fever and a grammar hammer

Well, this winter seems never-ending and cabin fever is bringing out the worst in me. I just read a list of the most 'contented' states - states where life expectancy is longer, that have a very low percentage of obese people, and have higher yearly incomes. Most of them were damned cold; Minnesota and both Dakotas. I'm thinking people live longer because their organs are frozen for about a third of the year, and so, are better preserved.

But, that's neither here nor there. Cabin fever is making my worst nit-picky side come out. Everything annoys way too easily. So I've decided to have a pet peeve a week and kind of spread out the irritation until spring blooms and I can get into the open air and take a walk. (To those of you who will point out that I actually can take a walk in the cold - I don't want to.)

This week's peeve is grammar. My mother was a funny lady and pretty lenient about most things, but when it came to table manners and grammar she was a real stickler and I like to think I'm carrying her torch, so to speak. Yes, I know that English is a fluid, ever-changing language. But I believe it's important to master the basics before creating something new.  

There are a few things I've given up on. "Hopefully" when you mean "I hope" for example. Though strictly incorrect, the meaning is clear. My mother held hopefully this was used by politicians in the hope that no one would actually associate them personally with what they were hoping. Probably a good assumption.

And the other day I heard a newscaster say "impactful." What can you say to that? I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. And using "are done" when you really mean "have finished" just makes me sad, but I feel it's here to stay.

However, the misuse of the pronouns "me" and "I" still has me yelling at the television and muttering under my breath when I can't really, politely, correct someone out loud.

Growing up, one of the big errors that seemed to abound was the misuse of the word 'me'. "Johnny and me are going to the park." My mother would say "Hmm?" and wait for a correction to "Johnny and I." Then she'd give the okay nod.  

Somehow the pendulum seems to have swung so far that much of the English speaking world is afraid to use 'me'. So now I hear from teachers, friends, TV reporters, and characters on the screen, say, "Would you like to go to the park with Johnny and I?" or "They were having lunch with Mom and I?" It's the object of a preposition for crying out loud. What you really want to to say is, "With me." It's making me nuts and, as my husband will attest, I'm already walking a fine line on that front.

So please, for the sake of my sanity, let's nip this insidious practice in mid-bloom and go back to the good old days when spring was in the air and we loved to say, "I ain't gonna say ain't 'cause ain't ain't in the dictionary."


  1. What boggles my mind is the incorrect grammar and wordage used in the movie and TV menus when they are describing a plot. Some very amateur mistakes are being made and they seem to continually crop up and never get revised or fixed.

  2. People like you and me will always do what you and I do - which is to try it without the other person to test what sounds right (people like me will always do what I do... seems obvious.) But in a nation where schools don't even try to teach correct spelling I fear we are helpless.

  3. I agree w/ Chris. I ain't got no patience for bad English.

  4. Hopefully you will come visit I. Me miss you. You not visiting I is very impactful.