So, I’m not quite done with your pet peeves and other oddities you’ve noticed about word-related things . . .

  • So, you don’t like beginning a sentence with so? So is a conjunction like and, but, and several other words (for, nor, or, and yet). The old rule is, “Don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.” But times have changed–or have they? There is never a real need to begin a sentence with and or but or so, but you might want to do it for a certain effect. It is fine in marketing writing, and I do it frequently in my grammar books. In a formal letter? I wouldn’t. 
  • Someone brought up that the words sell and sale sound the same spoken by someone with a Southern accent. (Note that alliteration with s!) But then, sell is a verb and sale is a noun, so you can probably figure it out from the context.
  • A common problem: using the object of a prepositional phrase (rather than the sentence subject) to determine the verb (singular or plural). For example: A bowl of apples are on the table. The writer of that sentence used a plural verb (are) versus the singular verb (is) to make it agree in number with apples. But apples is the object of the preposition of; the subject of the sentence that the verb should agree with in number is bowl. Singular. A bowl of apples is on the table.
  • Uncomfortable is a word. Uncomfortability is not a word.If it were, what would it mean? “Not able to be comfortable?” There is a noun meaning the state of being uncomfortable: comfortableness.
  • Here is a geographical faux pas for Californians: apparently some people say they are going “to the peninsula” when they go to Santa Clara or San Mateo. But San Francisco is the peninsula. So they are actually going “down the Peninsula.” Beats me. Geography was never my favorite subject.
  • Someone wrote that they didn’t care for training now being used by itself (as a noun), as opposed to with another word (as an adjective): for example, training program, training room, training department. Now we just say, I’m going to training. However, training is also a noun (a gerund, in fact), so it is fine to use by itself.
  • Ten-year anniversary. Well anniversary implies years (from the Latin annus meaning “year”), so the phrase is redundant. How about tenth anniversary instead?
  • Although some say that the distinction between less and fewer is disappearing (welcome to the dumbing down of the English language, probably mostly by Americans), some of us are happy that Whole Foods now has it right, and the sign above the express lane says, “Ten items of fewer.” In fact, I think most stores have finally learned the lesson and have replaced “Ten items or less” with “Ten items or fewer.”  Once again, fewer is used with plurals and things that can be counted, like groceries. Less is used with singulars and things that cannot be counted (salt, sugar, etc).
  • I think we have talked about no problem and no problemo in a previous post. Lots of people don’t like it– when a simple “You’re welcome” (not “Your welcome,” though) will do. I hear that the Australians say, “No wuccas.” It is short for “No wuckin’ forries” (spoonerism alert).