Correcting People Is Bad Manners

You know what annoys me? People who correct other people’s grammar. Especially since half the time – and I say this as a former professional proofreader who’s had to deal with such issues for a long time – especially since half the time, the people doing the correcting are (dare I say it?) inaccurate. They think that what they were taught in grammar school 50 years ago still goes, which ain’t necessarily so. With language, what used to be bad form may now be acceptable. This is because language usage changes, but you’d never know it to hear these people. For example:

One of the Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the word unique is interesting. Yes, folks, unique doesn’t solely mean one of a kind.

And — get this — the word irregardless is a defined in Merriam-Webster’s.

And it might surprise some people to learn that I’m well is a proper response when someone asks you about your health, but I’m good is acceptable when they are asking about your emotional state of mind.

My real point here is that correcting people’s grammar, especially in front of others, is bad manners. I’m not the only one to say so (check Miss Manners). In fact, correcting people in general is rude.

Take that, you pompous, braggadocio, self-proclaimed “grammarians”!

To those people, I ask, “What’s your source?”

Source?” they say. “Source? Why, I’m the source.”

I see. What have you published?

I once worked with a professional proofreader, to whom I pointed out that bit about unique to her by showing her the dictionary entry. “Well, that’s wrong!” she said.

Truth is, grammar is not a moral issue. Check out Kory Stamper’s Word for Word: the Secret Life of Dictionaries. She’s a dictionary editor. She knows her stuff. You’ll find some wonderful stuff there about things like the history of the pronunciation of the word nuclear.

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Good vs. Well

Below are sources indicating that it is grammatically correct to say “I’m good.”

“Well” describes one’s health. “Good” describes one’s emotional state.

“I’m Good” Versus “I’m Well”

Good vs. Well

An exception, of course, is when someone asks you how you are doing. In that case, the answer should be the adverb form: “well.”

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Capitalization for Emphasis Is a Bad Idea

Capitalization for Emphasis

Capitalization for emphasis is bad form.

We’ve seen random capitalization on the streets. It’s usually a crude attempt to capitalize for emphasis. Not a good idea. Stick with title case or sentence case.

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Hear hear vs. here here


hear hear!

and not

here here!




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The Correct Punctuation of Donald Trump, Jr.,’s Name

The Correct Punctuation of Donald Trump, Jr.,’s Name:


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Please check out a video from Kory Stamper, a lexicographer for Merriam-Webster. This means that she is a writer and editor of dictionaries.

And check out her book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries


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Yes and No

People are often confused about how to punctuate occurrences of yes and no.

The answer, according to The Chicago Manual of Style is simple: yes and no

So it is:

She said yes.

and NOT:

She said, “Yes.”

Notice there is no capitalization of the word yes.

The same is true of no.

so was have:

I say no.

and NOT:

I say, “N0.”


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You’ve Got Another Think Coming

Wait! Before you correct:

“You’ve got another think coming”


“You’ve got another thing coming”

take a second look: “You’ve got another think coming,” is actually a valid way of putting it — I recently spotted an example of this in Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen (and have seen it before elsewhere). Because the pronunciation of both is virtually identical, people often assume the author means “You’ve got another thing coming” when the author writes “You’ve got another think coming.”

Proofreaders take heed!

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“Home In” vs. “Hone In”

Home In:  (verb)
1:  to proceed to or toward a source of radiated energy used as a guide <missiles home in on radar>
2:  to proceed or direct attention toward an objective <science is homing in on the mysterious human process — Samuel Glucksberg>
Usage Discussion of HONE IN
The few commentators who have noticed hone in consider it to be a mistake for home in. It may have arisen from home in by the weakening of the \m\ sound to \n\ or may perhaps simply be due to the influence of hone. Though it seems to have established itself in American English (and mention in a British usage book suggests it is used in British English too), your use of it especially in writing is likely to be called a mistake. Home in or in figurative use zero in does nicely.
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That vs. Which

These words are not interchangeable.

In general, use “that” when introducing an essential clause (a clause that can’t be removed without changing the sentence’s overall meaning).

Example: Respondents reacted positively to advertising THAT featured sports celebrities.

Use “which” when introducing a nonessential clause (usually used in conjunction with commas).

Example: “Respondents reacted positively to the sports oriented advertising, WHICH appealed to their interest in professional football.”

The exception: “which” may be used to introduce an essential clause if “that” appears elsewhere in the sentence.

Example: “Several group members suggested THAT advertisements WHICH feature boy bands are ineffective.”

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