Some slight corrections to commonly misused nuances in English language
We speak the English language – albeit a somewhat different version of the tongue that rose to prominence in Great Britain. But proper grammar doesn’t seem to be high on the list of things we consider when speaking.
I’m going to list a few of the common errors we all hear every day and probably don’t even notice anymore. See if any ring a bell with you.
For some odd reason, too many people have taken up the silly practice of beginning their sentences with the word, “So.” Every sentence.
I first noticed that while watching a federal official testify before a congressional committee and he started every response with “So.” It became tedious and funny very quickly and made him look foolish.
Lake Superior State University (LSSU) agrees. It has named the misuse/overuse of “so” as one of the words that should be banned from the English language.
In agreement, a man from Michigan told the university, “Frequently used to begin a sentence, particularly in response to a question, (“So”) this tiresome and grammatically incorrect replacement for “Like,” or “Um,” is even more irksome … It hurts my ears, every single time I hear it!”
And a man from Arizona said, “Currently, it is being overused as the first word in the answer to ANY question. For instance, “How did you learn to play the piano?” Answer: “So my dad was in a classical music club …”
So, maybe you can remove it from your vocabulary!
Along with “so,” some of the other words LSSU wants to see outlawed are stakeholder, price point, problematic, secret sauce and physicality.
A word that’s become all too common comes from TV newscasters who refer to a lectern as a “podium.” How often have you heard so-and-so “is at the podium?”
A podium is a raised platform on which a speaker stands. The word podium comes from the Latin word for “foot” (podiatrist, for example, is a foot doctor). What the newscasters really mean is lectern.
Long ago, I learned to be careful with the word, “tradition.” In proper use, it’s a word associated with a long time. So you can’t really call something a “tradition” after it happens for just a couple of years.
Here’s what Merriam-Webster says about “tradition”: (It’s) a way of thinking, behaving or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time.”
Examples of “tradition” include the celebration of Thanksgiving and the annual Easter Egg Hunt.
Asterisk (*) is a word many mispronounce. They call the little star “asterick.” There’s no “c” near the end of the word, which actually has two meanings. One tells the reader to look for a note at the bottom of the page. We also use the asterisk to indicate missing letters in a word – often when quoting a crude or profane word.
I still hear too many news and sportscasters say “for you and I.” They should be saying “for you and me.”
In that phrase, “for” is a preposition that takes the objective form of “I,” which is “me.” Therefore, anytime you say “for you and ___,” say “me” instead of “I.” Maybe an easy way to remember is to use “I” only when starting a sentence.
Here are a few words that require “me” after them: about, after, before, between, beyond, except, like, of, past, than and to.
You still hear people say the word “momento” instead of “memento.” Momento is Spanish for “moment,” while “memento” is a keepsake.
“Bring” and “take” still confound many folks. I know a retired teacher who never could get it right.
The website, Grammar Girl’s “Quick and Dirty,” offers an easy explanation of how to use “bring” and “take.”
“Whether you use ‘bring’ or ‘take’ generally depends on your point of reference for the action. You ask people to bring things to the place you are, and you take things to the place you are going. (In simple terms,) you bring things here and take things there.”
“You ask people to bring things to you, and you take things to other people. You ask people to bring you coffee, and you offer to take the garbage out. You tell people to bring you good news, and you take your car to work.” That’s not so difficult, is it?
Which is it – could or couldn’t? We’ve heard people say “I could care less” as well as “I couldn’t care less.” Stop and think about it for a moment – how much do you care?
If you “could care less,” you’re saying there’s still room to do so. But what you should be saying is, “I couldn’t care less,” because that leaves no doubt about your intention.
Be careful with using “everybody.” It’s common to hear, “Everybody’s talking about …” But the fact is, not everybody’s talking about it. It’s better to say “Some people are talking about it.”
We all know New Year’s resolutions are mostly useless, but if you’re among those who misuse our Mother Tongue, there’s still time to make an extra effort to speak and write correctly in 2016. A selfish reason is that people who use English properly appear smarter – something to which most of us aspire.