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(The Week)   7 grammatical errors about which you no longer need to worry   (theweek.com) divider line 164
    More: Interesting, linguistic prescription, best way, prepositions, Robert Frost, Kyoto Protocol, splitting, grammars, James Joyce  
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10899 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 Mar 2013 at 2:20 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-03-06 02:18:39 PM
5. Don't use the passive voice 

Well. If you're doing legal writing, you had goddamned better not use the passive.
 
2013-03-06 02:24:48 PM
Like that will stop the Internet Grammar Brigade from relentlessly "pedantizing" someone to death.
 
2013-03-06 02:25:56 PM

HatMadeOfAss: Like that will stop the Internet Grammar Brigade from relentlessly "pedantizing" someone to death.


Read the comment section.  You'll want to ~decimate~ it.
 
2013-03-06 02:26:34 PM
like to mean "such as"

The Iraq?
 
2013-03-06 02:29:54 PM
I felt a great disturbance in the Fark, as if millions of grammar nazis suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
 
2013-03-06 02:30:47 PM
Something new that has popped up, which is literally bothering me, is the improper use of literally. It's now being used to emphasize something instead of to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings.

It's not so common on this site. I assume because it's an older crowd. Appears to be younger people who are the serial offenders. Why can't they English good?
 
2013-03-06 02:30:48 PM
wrong,wrong, wrong, ok, wrong, wrong, wrong,
 
2013-03-06 02:33:08 PM

brainlordmesomorph: wrong,wrong, wrong, ok, wrong, wrong, wrong,


The English language according to St. Brainlordmesomorph.  Let us give glory to His name.
 
2013-03-06 02:33:22 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Something new that has popped up, which is literally bothering me, is the improper use of literally. It's now being used to emphasize something instead of to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings.

It's not so common on this site. I assume because it's an older crowd. Appears to be younger people who are the serial offenders. Why can't they English good?


It's just hyperbole. Annoyingly overused, sure, but it's not literally incorrect.
 
2013-03-06 02:34:30 PM
The article quotes Winston Churchill's somewhat well-known writing: On a memo criticizing a document for committing this "error," Winston Churchill allegedly wrote: "This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put."

Prime Minister Churchill's attempted criticism is problematic. He is evidently attempting to create a sentence that follows the rule of not ending with a preposition in an effort to show that the rule can create awkward structures, yet his word order is unnecessarily complicated. While the word "up" is a preposition in some usages, it is an adverb in the context of Mr. Churchill's effort and thus the sentence "This is the type of arrant pedantry with which I will not put up" would be entirely grammatically acceptable (according to the supposedly unnecessary rule) and would lack the awkward structure that affected Mr. Churchill's offering.

/Seriously, that attempt at mockery has always bothered me.
 
2013-03-06 02:35:39 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Something new that has popped up, which is literally bothering me, is the improper use of literally. It's now being used to emphasize something instead of to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings.

It's not so common on this site. I assume because it's an older crowd. Appears to be younger people who are the serial offenders. Why can't they English good?


"Actually".

/rageface
 
2013-03-06 02:36:46 PM
It's okay to break any and all rules of grammar so long as you are clearly understood by others who read what you've written. The problem is that most people can't string together coherent sentences, so we made up rules that help clarify communication. Break those rules at your peril, and know that if we don't know what you're trying to say, it's your own fault.

As for the words changing their meaning, I'm totally okay with it as long as it fulfills a useful purpose. "Decimate" is a much more useful word as "to reduce greatly" than it is "to get rid of exactly one in ten," but I dislike people's use of the word "decadent" to mean "luxurious" because 1) luxurious is already a perfectly good word, and 2) it detracts from the use of the word "decadent's" appropriate meaning "falling into decay while having a luxurious exterior"
 
2013-03-06 02:37:13 PM
I agree that some rules can be broken, as long as the person breaking them knows the rules. What this writer is advocating is sloppiness. I will continue to insist on holding myself and other writers to a higher standard. I'm not perfect, but I always strive to be better.

IOW: Fark that douchebag.
 
2013-03-06 02:37:18 PM
I would just like to say that people who don't use the oxford comma are assholes, bastards, and retards.
 
2013-03-06 02:38:09 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Something new that has popped up, which is literally bothering me, is the improper use of literally. It's now being used to emphasize something instead of to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings.

It's not so common on this site. I assume because it's an older crowd. Appears to be younger people who are the serial offenders. Why can't they English good?


I blame it on dictionaries defining literally as figuratively.

imgs.xkcd.com
 
2013-03-06 02:39:16 PM

gameshowhost: 5. Don't use the passive voice
Well. If you're doing legal writing, you had goddamned better not use the passive.


I would not consider "do not use the passive voice" to be a grammatical rule. While the passive voice is inappropriate in certain contexts, I have never been taught it to be a grammatically incorrect method of structuring statements.
 
2013-03-06 02:39:29 PM
They had me until 'could care less.'
 
2013-03-06 02:40:29 PM

redmid17: They had me until 'could care less.'


Just for you:

incompetech.com
 
2013-03-06 02:40:35 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Something new that has popped up, which is literally bothering me, is the improper use of literally. It's now being used to emphasize something instead of to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings.


New? I'm in my 40's and we were abusing that word for as far back as I can remember. At any rate, it's literally not a big deal.
 
2013-03-06 02:40:35 PM

Carth: J. Frank Parnell: Something new that has popped up, which is literally bothering me, is the improper use of literally. It's now being used to emphasize something instead of to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings.

It's not so common on this site. I assume because it's an older crowd. Appears to be younger people who are the serial offenders. Why can't they English good?

I blame it on dictionaries defining literally as figuratively.

[imgs.xkcd.com image 730x254]


The message of the comic fails to understand an important detail: if I do not correct those who use the word inappropriately, how will they know that they are wrong?
 
2013-03-06 02:41:27 PM

nmrsnr: It's okay to break any and all rules of grammar so long as you are clearly understood by others who read what you've written. The problem is that most people can't string together coherent sentences, so we made up rules that help clarify communication. Break those rules at your peril, and know that if we don't know what you're trying to say, it's your own fault.

As for the words changing their meaning, I'm totally okay with it as long as it fulfills a useful purpose. "Decimate" is a much more useful word as "to reduce greatly" than it is "to get rid of exactly one in ten," but I dislike people's use of the word "decadent" to mean "luxurious" because 1) luxurious is already a perfectly good word, and 2) it detracts from the use of the word "decadent's" appropriate meaning "falling into decay while having a luxurious exterior"


Were you going for 'decadence' there, perhaps?
 
2013-03-06 02:41:33 PM

nmrsnr: It's okay to break any and all rules of grammar so long as you are clearly understood by others who read what you've written. The problem is that most people can't string together coherent sentences, so we made up rules that help clarify communication. Break those rules at your peril, and know that if we don't know what you're trying to say, it's your own fault.

As for the words changing their meaning, I'm totally okay with it as long as it fulfills a useful purpose. "Decimate" is a much more useful word as "to reduce greatly" than it is "to get rid of exactly one in ten," but I dislike people's use of the word "decadent" to mean "luxurious" because 1) luxurious is already a perfectly good word, and 2) it detracts from the use of the word "decadent's" appropriate meaning "falling into decay while having a luxurious exterior"


This article makes the point that some of those rules don't exist for any good reason, and that they're better off being done away with. That they often get in the way of, and are irrelevant to, good composition. It's not such a radical thesis- a lot of these 'rules' are stylistic recommendations with delusions of grandeur. Why not just call them what they are?
 
2013-03-06 02:41:42 PM
www.angryflower.com

ncowie.files.wordpress.com
 
2013-03-06 02:42:08 PM
No, I disagree. The passive voice should never be used if you want someone to easily understand you.
 
2013-03-06 02:42:54 PM

redmid17: They had me until 'could care less.'


Someone declaring that they "could care less" is acceptable under two circumstances: they actually could care less than their care at the moment, or they are using intentional and obvious sarcasm when stating the phrase.
 
2013-03-06 02:43:09 PM
Had a voice mail the other day from a company I was ordering some clothing from. "We are needing you to provide us your credit card..." We are needing? Transitive verbs, anyone?
 
2013-03-06 02:43:13 PM
Observe that he did NOT tell you retards that you could abuse the apostrophe. It does NOT mean "here comes an 'S' at the end of the word". That is something that, pedantic or not, I have no tolerance for. It makes you look like an uneducated mope and is only surpassed in idiocy by chronic misspelling.
 
2013-03-06 02:43:53 PM

nmrsnr: It's okay to break any and all rules of grammar so long as you are clearly understood by others who read what you've written. The problem is that most people can't string together coherent sentences, so we made up rules that help clarify communication. Break those rules at your peril, and know that if we don't know what you're trying to say, it's your own fault.

As for the words changing their meaning, I'm totally okay with it as long as it fulfills a useful purpose. "Decimate" is a much more useful word as "to reduce greatly" than it is "to get rid of exactly one in ten," but I dislike people's use of the word "decadent" to mean "luxurious" because 1) luxurious is already a perfectly good word, and 2) it detracts from the use of the word "decadent's" appropriate meaning "falling into decay while having a luxurious exterior"


I disagree with decimate. I prefer having a specific word meaning to reduce 10% because i can use destroy, massacre, eradicate, obliterate or extirpate to mean "reduce greatly or eliminate a large portion". Decimate is a concise way to convey a specific loss.
 
2013-03-06 02:43:59 PM
I don't care who says it or what blog it's printed in, "I could care less" is stupid and wrong on its face. Anybody that uses it to mean that they couldn't care less is dumb.
 
2013-03-06 02:44:34 PM
I agree with this author. F*ck people who think that English should work like Latin.
 
2013-03-06 02:45:00 PM

cptjeff: It's just hyperbole. Annoyingly overused, sure, but it's not literally incorrect.


No, it just doesn't make sense when there is no figurative meaning to differentiate from.

They want it to have the same power as it does when used to differentiate from a figurative meaning. Which is why you probably consider it hyperbole. Like saying something is literally killing you instead of just using that figure of speech. But it simply doesn't work when there is no other interpretation aside from the literal, and it's redundant to clarify that it's literal.
 
2013-03-06 02:45:41 PM

Dimensio: redmid17: They had me until 'could care less.'

Someone declaring that they "could care less" is acceptable under two circumstances: they actually could care less than their care at the moment, or they are using intentional and obvious sarcasm when stating the phrase.


Very true. Most of their examples were fine, but I draw the line at redefining or omitting such a basic word in the English language (not) from a common phrase.
 
2013-03-06 02:45:45 PM
The Angry Hand of God:

If we want to get into Bob's relationship with the apostrophe, these are also gems:


angryflower.com

i17.photobucket.com
 
2013-03-06 02:45:52 PM

nmrsnr: It's okay to break any and all rules of grammar so long as you are clearly understood by others who read what you've written. The problem is that most people can't string together coherent sentences, so we made up rules that help clarify communication. Break those rules at your peril, and know that if we don't know what you're trying to say, it's your own fault.

As for the words changing their meaning, I'm totally okay with it as long as it fulfills a useful purpose. "Decimate" is a much more useful word as "to reduce greatly" than it is "to get rid of exactly one in ten," but I dislike people's use of the word "decadent" to mean "luxurious" because 1) luxurious is already a perfectly good word


I agree. "Luxurious" is a perfectly cromulent word.
 
2013-03-06 02:45:56 PM

What in The: Had a voice mail the other day from a company I was ordering some clothing from. "We are needing you to provide us your credit card..." We are needing? Transitive verbs, anyone?


Was it an Indian on the other end of the phone? Unless I miss my guess, they don't speak a tensed language, and thus it might be difficult for them to grasp the concept.
 
2013-03-06 02:46:37 PM

Dimensio: Carth: J. Frank Parnell: Something new that has popped up, which is literally bothering me, is the improper use of literally. It's now being used to emphasize something instead of to differentiate between literal and figurative meanings.

It's not so common on this site. I assume because it's an older crowd. Appears to be younger people who are the serial offenders. Why can't they English good?

I blame it on dictionaries defining literally as figuratively.

[imgs.xkcd.com image 730x254]

The message of the comic fails to understand an important detail: if I do not correct those who use the word inappropriately, how will they know that they are wrong?


The definition of literally:

lit·er·al·ly/ˈlitərəlē/AdverbIn a literal manner or sense; exactly: "the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the traffic circle".Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling. Sounds like they are using it within the dictionary's definition of the word. Time to let the battle go.
 
2013-03-06 02:47:13 PM
From my cold, dead hands shall these be prised.
 
2013-03-06 02:47:29 PM
In before someone claims this is all totes cray cray.
 
2013-03-06 02:48:26 PM

Adolf Oliver Nipples: Observe that he did NOT tell you retards that you could abuse the apostrophe. It does NOT mean "here comes an 'S' at the end of the word". That is something that, pedantic or not, I have no tolerance for. It makes you look like an uneducated mope and is only surpassed in idiocy by chronic misspelling.


That one's not being pedantic. It's a violation of grammar to use apostrophes incorrectly, not a violation of somebody's style choices. And it's something only stupid people seem to do.

The one that really gets me is when I see people just utterly ignoring capitalization when posting online. I mean, really? I understand it when texting, but when you're posting on a forum or writing a serious e-mail, you have a keyboard in front of you. The shift key is not hard to reach. Use it.
 
2013-03-06 02:48:33 PM

cyberspacedout: The passive voice should never be used if you want someone to easily understand you.


Is "I was hit by a bus" really that difficult to understand?
 
2013-03-06 02:49:06 PM

nmrsnr: It's okay to break any and all rules of grammar so long as you are clearly understood by others who read what you've written. The problem is that most people can't string together coherent sentences, so we made up rules that help clarify communication. Break those rules at your peril, and know that if we don't know what you're trying to say, it's your own fault.

As for the words changing their meaning, I'm totally okay with it as long as it fulfills a useful purpose. "Decimate" is a much more useful word as "to reduce greatly" than it is "to get rid of exactly one in ten," but I dislike people's use of the word "decadent" to mean "luxurious" because 1) luxurious is already a perfectly good word, and 2) it detracts from the use of the word "decadent's" appropriate meaning "falling into decay while having a luxurious exterior"


I just pictured Madonna's genitals.
 
2013-03-06 02:50:10 PM

bulldg4life: I would just like to say that people who don't use the oxford comma are assholes, bastards, and retards.


You and I are going to get along just fine, well, and splendidly.
 
2013-03-06 02:50:50 PM
It's OK to use... verbal to mean "oral"

But I don't think "Stimulate me 'verbally'." will mean what I want it to.
 
2013-03-06 02:51:23 PM

swahnhennessy: New? I'm in my 40's and we were abusing that word for as far back as I can remember. At any rate, it's literally not a big deal.


That may be literally true, but it's literally reached literal epidemic proportions of literalness now.
 
2013-03-06 02:51:38 PM

redmid17: They had me until 'could care less.'


This.  Fark this article.
 
2013-03-06 02:52:13 PM
Great headline subby.

I tend to worry about ending my sentences with prepositions, and often edit even when speaking aloud.

"Nothing to worry about. Er, nothing about which to worry."
 
2013-03-06 02:52:45 PM

fustanella: Were you going for 'decadence' there, perhaps?


Farking adjectives vs. nouns, how do they work?

Carth: I disagree with decimate. I prefer having a specific word meaning to reduce 10% because i can use destroy, massacre, eradicate, obliterate or extirpate to mean "reduce greatly or eliminate a large portion". Decimate is a concise way to convey a specific loss.


Which is fine, but honestly, how often is that scenario compared to the more generic one that decimate has moved to encompass. Also, your other synonyms tend to have the connotation of annihilation (destroy, obliterate, eradicate, extripate) whereas decimate leaves the clear impression of, while greatly diminished, a still intact group.
 
2013-03-06 02:54:02 PM

robertus: I agree. "Luxurious" is a perfectly cromulent word.


it embiggens our lexicon
 
2013-03-06 02:56:23 PM

cptjeff: This article makes the point that some of those rules don't exist for any good reason, and that they're better off being done away with. That they often get in the way of, and are irrelevant to, good composition. It's not such a radical thesis- a lot of these 'rules' are stylistic recommendations with delusions of grandeur. Why not just call them what they are?


Actually the point of the article, for the most part, is that those supposed rules aren't really rules of english grammar and never were. They have been taught to people in school as if they were rules, but it was just propagation of error.
 
2013-03-06 02:59:13 PM

robertus: nmrsnr: It's okay to break any and all rules of grammar so long as you are clearly understood by others who read what you've written. The problem is that most people can't string together coherent sentences, so we made up rules that help clarify communication. Break those rules at your peril, and know that if we don't know what you're trying to say, it's your own fault.

As for the words changing their meaning, I'm totally okay with it as long as it fulfills a useful purpose. "Decimate" is a much more useful word as "to reduce greatly" than it is "to get rid of exactly one in ten," but I dislike people's use of the word "decadent" to mean "luxurious" because 1) luxurious is already a perfectly good word

I agree. "Luxurious" is a perfectly cromulent word.


Decadent is also defined as "self indulgent". When used as a substitute for luxurious, it's being used to express a sense of excess and moral disapproval of that luxury. They can be used do describe similar levels of opulence, but luxurious is descriptive while decadent expresses moral judgement over the luxury. Some of the usage you may be complaining about might be something along the lines of, "How utterly decadent!" upon seeing a luxurious setting, where it has a richer meaning than luxurious would, in the sense that it would express that indulging in the luxury would be morally destructive, that the speaker doesn't care and is going to indulge anyway.

Compared to decadent, luxurious is a pretty boring word.
 
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