Carpe Weekend: Grammar Snob II: To serve and protect
By Jason Freeman email@example.com January 17, 2013 10:46AM
Become a member of the Grammar Police by wearing this badge and starting a Grammar Watch program in your community. | File Photo
There’s a not-so-secret and entirely inadvertent attempt by some to forever destroy the English language.
If current trends continue, our descendants will be so unfamiliar with the language we presently speak that they’ll have to resort to grunts and hand gestures to communicate with each other.
Need proof? Just look over your kid’s shoulder the next time he’s texting a friend or chatting with his buddies on Facebook.
Teenagers aren’t the only offenders, either.
Listen to those commercials that run during your favorite TV show, or look at the signs in shop windows. People everywhere are butchering the English language as nonchalantly as one would scratch an itch.
To make matters worse, most linguistic lawbreakers have no idea they’re doing anything wrong, as if words and the rules that govern them don’t matter.
Members of the Grammar County Police Department beg to differ.
They’ve been charged with maintaining the sanctity of the English language so that future generations will be able to read a modern-day book without having to use a translator.
If you want to join the fight, you’re in luck — the department is looking for new blood. The pay is horrible, and vacations are unheard of, but it’s relatively easy work.
Simply intercede the next time you hear someone bullying the English language.
If they give you grief, flash your Grammar County Police Department badge and tell them you’re just doing your job.
It’s thankless work, so expect plenty of dirty looks and a good deal of playground-worthy name-calling.
But keep it up. It’s important work. Your children’s great-great-grandchildren’s children will thank you.
It’s raining elders
That AARP class isn’t for seniors “55 and over.” It’s also impossible for anyone to save “over” $300 a year by switching to Geico. Why?
Words such as “over,” “under,” “up” and the like are prepositions that mean something is physically above or beneath a person.
The sky may be over my head, but senior citizens typically aren’t (unless they’re living on my roof).
Use “older” and “younger” for ages and “more than” and “less than” for quantities.
This isn’t one of those clear-cut grammar rules. Some people will hotly debate the validity of using “over” instead of “more than.” I’m not one of them.
I’m figuratively sick of this
Only use the word “literally” when talking about something that could actually happen.
If you’re speaking metaphorically, use “figuratively” or, better yet, don’t use anything.
Unless you’ve somehow found an interdimensional portal into the movie “Back to the Future,” cars aren’t “literally flying down the road.”
Steer clear of anyone who is “literally sweating bullets” unless you want to end up as well-ventilated as a White Castle slider.
You can, however, say that the lobster you boiled for dinner was “literally sitting in the hot seat.” It’s even kind of funny in its own dumb way.
To avoid sounding like a jackalope, give “literally” a wide and respectful berth.
Carpe Weekend reader Carolyn Newkirk, of Orland Park, pointed out another phrase that seemingly everyone uses incorrectly: “Could care less.”
The correct term is “couldn’t care less,” which implies that it’s impossible for you to care any less than you presently do.
The phrase “could care less” means that, to some degree, you still care.
The vowels of hell
Carpe Weekend reader Lenore DeAntoni, of Crete, accurately pointed out that many people don’t know when to use “a” and when to use “an.”
Simply put, use “a” when the noun that follows it begins with a consonant and use “an” when it begins with a vowel or vowel sound.
Example: A car literally few down the street as an army of grammar cops tried in vain to stop it.