Sorry to be so harsh about it, but I had to get your attention. Ladies, the time has come to get your vocabulary in check. Mispronouncing or misusing words may have been commonplace in high school, but today, those same grammatical blunders will make you look like an idiot.
How many of the following snafus are you guilty of commiting?
Regardless is a word. Irregardless is not. This colloquialism has become so ingrained in our everyday speech that even Google recognizes it as a word. Trust me, it’s not. Drop the “ir” and settle with “regardless.”
Again, this isn’t a word. The plural for “medium” is “media.” As in, “I communicate effectively across many media.” You wouldn’t say “gooses,” would you?
There, their, they’re
These terms are not interchangeable, and selecting the wrong one when writing is a quick and easy way to get a sidelong glance from your supervisor.
There indicates a place, as in, “while you’re in there, could you make me a drink?”
Their implies ownership, as in, “it’s their vodka, I’m just drinking it.”
They’re is a shortcut for “they are,” as in, “don’t bother the boys, they’re making me a cocktail.”
Punctuation belongs inside quotation marks
An editor of mine waged a war on this point, but I stand firm that periods, questions marks, exclamation points, and commas alike belong safely nestled inside quotation marks, at all times. For example, I wouldn’t write, “how many days in a row is it acceptable to wear the same scarf”? It looks weird for a reason — because it’s wrong. This rule is backwards in the U.K., however, so you always have that excuse to fall back on when called out on this mistake.
Spell it out
Except in the case of academic degrees, a.m. and p.m., and few other exceptions, always spell out a word on first reference. For example, I bet you didn’t know “United States” should be spelled out, except when used as a modifier. You’ve never heard Obama introduce himself as the president of the U.S., but you may have heard him refer to the U.S. Constitution. That’s because Obama has a well-paid speech writer, who isn’t an idiot.
For now, I’ve spared you my rant on the Oxford comma, but don’t be surprised to see the subject surface in part two of this post.
What grammatical mistakes make your skin crawl? Tell me in the comments, and they could appear in part two!