English Class

I work as a librarian in a high school. It is always dangerous for a person to claim a superior level of knowledge in the English language, its grammar and vocabulary, etc. I don’t profess such skills. (Truth be told, I can barely spell.) However, there are some common mistakes that students, staff and administrators are making REPEATEDLY that are driving me crazy (As educators, we should lead and teach by example.  Let’s start by getting communication in the common language correct for the love of God.)  I know that you, readers of this blog, will have NEVER made such egregious errors.  The following is the mini-lesson I would like to give to some faculty and administrators I see on a day to day basis.

So class, here are a few things you knew at one point but may have forgotten:

The word is “regardless” not “irregardless.” There is no such word as “irregardless.”

“It’s” is the conjunction of “it is.” The possessive form of “it” is “its” without the apostrophe.  Sample sentence: It’s a shame its balls had to come off due to gangrene.

A person who is skilled at cards, card games and tricks should be called a Card SHARP. However, since the majority of people speaking English are imbeciles and have bastardized the term to “Card Shark” card shark is now considered an acceptable form. Morons. (I blame the 80s game show Card Sharks for influencing this tweaking of the term.)

Then there are the verbal redundancies:  use “continue” not “continue on” since the word continue means “to go on” to use “continue on” would translate to “to go on on.” Use “reflect” not “reflect back.” Same idea as above, “reflect” means “to look back” to use “reflect back” would mean “to look back back.” “Project” another word that falls into this classification.

Last, but certainly not least, “fewer” vs. “less.”  This has people scratching their heads all the time. Simply put, use “fewer” if it is something that is countable: cans, people, monkeys, items, blisters, rashes, etc.  Use “less” when you are dealing with a concept or something that is intangible: money, love, air, warfare, etc. Sample sentences: She had less money and fewer dollars.  When there is less warfare, there are fewer wars.

Please add any comments or favorite English language fuck-ups you see. (Including any you see in this blog.  There will be many over time, I’m sure.)

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About The Sassy Librarian

Librarian. Writer. Curmudgeon.
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5 Responses to English Class

  1. Maria Bernier says:

    Uh oh, better double check your first paragraph for examples of the second pet peeve you list.

    This is a fun blog! I agree, the fonts are wacky, but you’ll get there.

  2. CRM Phillips says:

    While I mostly agree — and certainly on the first two — I submit the following considerations. “Reflect back” is a useful contrast with perfectly sensible locutions like “reflect away”. It might be fairly objected that the latter really ought to be “deflect away”. However, when the deflection is via a reflective surface, its seems more accurate to say “reflect away” of “reflect back”.

    Re “few” vs. “less”, I’ve always felt that a similar point ought be made as to “short” and “brief”, that the former is a spacial distinction whereas the latter is temporal. “To be there shortly,” is an abomination! (It should be, “to be there soon”.) But, I’ve been told I’m crazy-wrong in this regard.

  3. CRM Phillips says:

    There’s an “its” that ought be only an “it” in my comment. D’oh!

  4. imaginarymen says:

    Wow. I am LITERALLY afraid to actually talk to you now ;-0

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