Thank you for your continuing submissions of your pet peeves and other weird things you see and hear! Today, I present ten more of them. Please keep them coming for future posts (and my amusement). But don’t worry. Next week, we will get back to more instructional/informational posts. But the peeves will be back soon.
Here are ten for this week:
- On BBC (don’t know if it was radio or television): ” . . . sit moments away from . . .” You can sit feet away from, and you can be moments away from — but can you sit moments away from? I think not.
- The old “I could care less” is apparently still around. Let’s think this through. If you could care less, that means you do care some. If you care some, you wouldn’t be saying this in the first place. I couldn’t care less emphasizes that you don’t care at all and is the correct idiom.
- There is often confusion between different than and different from. Which is it? Which preposition to use is a common issue in English, especially to those who are not native speakers. It is different from. Than implies comparison (taller than . . .) and different does not really imply a comparison.
- Momentarily is a tricky word. I am quite sure I have used it incorrectly. It certainly sounds as if it should mean “soon” or “in a moment.” However, its actual meaning is “for a very short time”: She momentarily forget her speech.
- Same goes for presently. It seems as if it should mean “now” or “at present.” However, it means soon: I am sure she will arrive presently.
- This one is likely regional: pronouncing didn’t as did-dent (I have heard it pronounced dint, which is a peeve of mine) and important as impor-dent.
- Sit and set are a verb duo much like lay and lie, in that one verb is transitive (takes a direct object) and one is intransitive (does not take a direct object). Lay takes a direct object; lie does not. Set takes a direct object; sit does not. However, sit and set, because of the conjugations in other tenses, is not as complicated as lay and lie (thank goodness): I sit on the chair. Please set the salad on the table. Not I was setting there.
- Like could of, should of, and would of, someone wrote to me about must of, also written as must’ve. It is must have.
- Is is singular or plural? According to what I have read, it is either, but usually singular. It is singular, when it means “not one of.” However, I cannot think of an example when it either (1) doesn’t mean “not one of” or (2) it isn’t obviously singular anyway. So, I don’t know when I would use a plural verb with it. Perhaps it can be plural (and take a plural verb) when there is a plural noun in a prepositional phrase following it. However, it still means “not one of”: None of the babies was crying during the movie OR None of the babies were crying during the movie. I would say was: Not one of the babies was crying during the movie. In a sentence like None of the cake is left, it is obviously singular because cake is singular and none doesn’t mean “not one of” here. Your thoughts?
- Anyways is not a word. Same for anywheres, somewheres, nowheres, etc. Take off the s.
As an aside, last night I was watching the news and I heard the commentator say, “But that is a whole nother story.” We all say it. Since when did nother become a word? Can we call it a split word — rather than a split infinitive? The word another is split and a whole is put in the middle. Like a doughnut.
Happy Earth Day! And keep those grammar, punctuation, pronunciation, usage, and oddities coming in!