I was reading an article online today and came across a sentence that inspired this blog post:
"It could of been very dangerous."
Does anyone see the problem?
"Could of" is what many people think is the long version of "could've." This is not correct. Contractions are when two words are joined together to make one, so an easy way to remember that "could've" actually means "could have" is to look at the way it is spelled.
Following are a few other common grammar mistakes that aren't that big of a deal but really drive me crazy. I'm sure most of you won't care, but I really could not believe I saw such an obvious grammatical error published in an article. Also, I've realized I'd make a horrible English teacher - I had to read a few papers by my classmates and could barely get through them. And these are college students! (That's another reason I don't equate intelligence with education.) How do you do it, Monica and JulieAnn?
1. A lot.
A lot is two words, not one. Please do not spell it alot. That is not a word.
My grandma taught me the trick to using myself. To see if you're using the correct form, just take away other subjects and see if it still makes sense. For example, "Talk to Fred or myself if you have any questions." If you take away "Fred" the sentence becomes, "Talk to myself if you have any questions." Obviously that makes you sound crazy, and like you're talking to yourself. So you'd want to use "me" instead. I've noticed a lot of people use this when trying to sound professional, but really it just sounds wrong.
I was guilty of this one until I took a creative writing class almost ten years ago. My teacher was telling us about a book she'd published, and she wanted to have a character correct another character who was saying they felt bad. Her editor told her that the correct form is actually bad, not badly. For example, you'd want to say, "I feel bad about what happened," rather than "I feel badly about what happened." It's a nasty rumor that many people have bought into, but badly is actually incorrect. (But even my creative writing professor thought it was the correct way, so trust me, it's a common mistake.) It has to do with linking verbs, and if you want a real explanation, go here, but basically if you're describing an emotion, go ahead and leave it as "bad".
Well is another one of those difficult ones that people like to correct other people on, but it's actually not always correct. When someone asks how you're doing, if you want to refer to your health, you can say you're doing well, but otherwise you should say good. I know, I know, I've always been taught that "well" is the appropriate word to use, but it's another case of linking verbs, like bad vs. badly. So it's perfectly appropriate (and even more correct) to respond with, "I'm good!" If you don't believe me, check in with the Grammar Girl here. And if you're still hesitant about saying "I'm good" then I recommend saying, "I'm awesome!" That way people are reminded that you're awesome.
I'm sure very few people care as much about this sort of thing as I do, so sorry for the ridiculous blog. I'm not claiming to be perfect with grammar myself, and I know I often make mistakes. I usually reread my posts later on and cringe at the errors I find. (Maybe I should start proofreading my blogs before posting?) But if you'd like to improve your grammar, I suggest reading a lot, or picking up Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips book. And if you're buying this book, you could always buy two and give one copy to me, since I'd love something like this...
Any other nerds out there who have any other grammar pet peeves they'd like to share?