Just this summer, I wrote an opinion piece calling attention to society’s rampant abuse of the English language. The article examined some typical grammatical errors and then looked at how they could be corrected. Obviously, nobody heeded the article.
To be fair, it was summer. The bulk of the student body was back at home, with no pesky grammar Nazis hanging around to point out every split modifier.
Now we’re back, though. School is in session, but nobody seems to act like this is an institute of higher education. Do people care that prospective students and their parents tour the campus every day, horrified by the flyers that read “free soda’s at the Wendsday meeting?” That doesn’t exactly give them the impression that Cal Poly is the pinnacle of academic achievement.
OK, so maybe you really don’t care about the way Cal Poly is perceived. After all, the university churns out tons of aerospace engineers, biomedical majors and lots of other important-sounding job titles. Who’s to say we’re not super smart?
But a prospective employer has no way of knowing how smart you really are if you misspell something on your resume or go into an interview where you can’t get your subjects and verbs to agree. Like it or not, this stuff matters.
Since it obviously needs to be reviewed, I’ve included a list of common English indiscretions. Since July, I’ve picked up a few more pet peeves.
1. “The bone is in it’s mouth.” There shouldn’t be an apostrophe. “It” has no punctuation in the possessive. “It’s” is a contraction meaning “it is.”
2. “There’s donuts on the counter.” Donuts are plural, as in more than one. “There’s,” meaning “there is,” is singular. You do the math.
3. “Where you at?” This one is just horrid, really. When did “Where are you?” turn into this monstrosity?
4. “Me and her liked it.” She and I, people. She and I.
5. “That is the most heaviest book.” No. Just . no.
6. “We drunk all the beer.” Drank. Get used to it. Accept it. Embrace it.
7. “Their coming to are party at you’re house.” Ugh. They’re coming to our party at your house.
8. “He was suppose to take out the trash.” I know you meant “supposed” to.
9. “Everyday I check the website.” No, you check the Web site every day. Everday (one word) is an adjective only, like “everyday life.”
10. “You could of come with us.” That’s not how “could’ve” is spelled. Just write “could have” if you’re unsure.
I know I’m not the only person out there who cringes and considers throwing dictionaries at the people who yell “Where you at?” into their cell phones.
After my grammar commentary ran in the Mustang Daily in July, I received numerous comments, phone calls and e-mails. Most of them offered support or shared horror stories of abused apostrophes, but one reply thanked me for “helping the world by correcting bad grammar,” and that got me thinking.
What if everyone who cared about the preservation of the English language actually fought back? What if we corrected grammar abusers on the spot? We pedants would no longer have to suffer silently every time we heard a sentence that ended with a preposition, and maybe – just maybe – people could learn to shed some of their bad grammar habits.
The world would be a better place.
With that in mind, I make this plea to my fellow guardians of proper language usage: The next time you hear someone say “me and him and all them really loved that movie,” please correct them. It’s as easy as that. You are the only form of quality control around. The English language can’t defend itself; it needs you.
Sara Hamilton is a journalism junior and Mustang Daily staff writer.