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Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:00 AM

Am I being a grammar Nazi?

I have no problem with people using hopefully when they mean to say I/we hope that....

I'm glad to use them/they instead of he/him or he or she/him or her.
But

to me " less" is to be used for things measured in bulk - use less flour next time.

"Fewer" is for things that can be numbered - use fewer cups of flour next time.

More people were there last night, fewer people there tonight.

More confetti on the floor last night, less the night before.

59 replies, 4081 views

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Arrow 59 replies Author Time Post
Reply Am I being a grammar Nazi? (Original post)
hedgehog Jan 2016 OP
Nye Bevan Jan 2016 #1
hedgehog Jan 2016 #2
Hortensis Jan 2016 #33
lpbk2713 Jan 2016 #3
ret5hd Jan 2016 #12
lpbk2713 Jan 2016 #50
Nitram Jan 2016 #4
Hortensis Jan 2016 #40
enlightenment Jan 2016 #5
Gidney N Cloyd Jan 2016 #6
randome Jan 2016 #7
Kingofalldems Jan 2016 #8
hedgehog Jan 2016 #10
WinkyDink Jan 2016 #23
Lil Missy Jan 2016 #9
MineralMan Jan 2016 #11
JustABozoOnThisBus Jan 2016 #13
hedgehog Jan 2016 #14
yeoman6987 Jan 2016 #15
elljay Jan 2016 #45
yeoman6987 Jan 2016 #46
LanternWaste Jan 2016 #16
enid602 Jan 2016 #17
oberliner Jan 2016 #18
hedgehog Jan 2016 #20
oberliner Jan 2016 #25
hedgehog Jan 2016 #29
Fla Dem Jan 2016 #52
Android3.14 Jan 2016 #31
Iggo Jan 2016 #38
oberliner Jan 2016 #53
pinboy3niner Jan 2016 #39
oberliner Jan 2016 #54
lumberjack_jeff Jan 2016 #19
hedgehog Jan 2016 #21
elias49 Jan 2016 #24
WinkyDink Jan 2016 #22
hedgehog Jan 2016 #26
WinkyDink Jan 2016 #27
Nitram Jan 2016 #43
lumberjack_jeff Jan 2016 #44
Cleita Jan 2016 #28
tularetom Jan 2016 #30
Android3.14 Jan 2016 #32
Cirque du So-What Jan 2016 #34
Igel Jan 2016 #42
Iggo Jan 2016 #35
pinboy3niner Jan 2016 #36
Orrex Jan 2016 #37
Quantess Jan 2016 #41
KentuckyWoman Jan 2016 #47
hfojvt Jan 2016 #48
CharlotteVale Jan 2016 #49
HassleCat Jan 2016 #51
Glorfindel Jan 2016 #55
mac56 Jan 2016 #56
SheilaT Jan 2016 #57
hedgehog Jan 2016 #58
SheilaT Jan 2016 #59

Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:06 AM

1. Me and my wife can't stand bad grammar (nt)

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:07 AM

2. I see what you did there.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:26 PM

33. :) Fewer/less grate on me too, but

"hopefully" evolved out of the muck long ago and can be seen even in the finest restaurants now.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:07 AM

3. I never could stand folks who don't talk good.

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Response to lpbk2713 (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:21 AM

12. "...don't talk no good". Their, I fixed it four you.

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Response to ret5hd (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:40 PM

50. I new it didn't look write.




But I just couldn't figgger it out.

Thank's.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:09 AM

4. It is a fact of the English language that we have "count" nouns and "non-count" nouns.

"Many"and "few" are used with nouns that can be counted, such as people, dogs, chairs or books. "Much", and "less" are used with nouns that can't be counted such as sugar, milk, wood, and glass. I taught English as a second language in Japan for 20 years, and that's a hard one for non-native speakers. But most native speakers of English don't even realize they are making such a distinction when they are speaking. Just was we know when to use "a" instead of "the" without thinking about it.

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Response to Nitram (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:49 PM

40. Or "a few" to mark significance

and just "few" to downplay significance. I had fun trying to get some of these across to an ESL group of people from a dozen different countries I was tutoring long ago. The format was the teacher would mark up their papers and they'd ask me to explain, or I would have passed on so many. Total-immersion pantomime time.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:09 AM

5. Only to those who

find any criticism of grammar, spelling, syntax, or punctuation - however gentle - worse than an unfounded accusation of cheating. At that point you become the enemy.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:11 AM

6. That "less/fewer" shit bothers the fuck out of me, too.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:14 AM

7. And then there are those who post subject lines that don't make sense and never proofread.

 

The moment I post anything, be it a response or an OP, I go back and look it over because I assume I spelled something wrong or used nonsense syntax.
[hr][font color="blue"][center]“If you're not committed to anything, you're just taking up space.”
Gregory Peck, Mirage (1965)
[/center][/font][hr]

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:14 AM

8. How do you stand on loser/looser?

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Response to Kingofalldems (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:20 AM

10. Spell check will be the death of English as we know it!

I've even seen similar substitutions in publications that are supposedly edited.

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Response to Kingofalldems (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:59 AM

23. Only a loser doesn't know the difference.

 

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:16 AM

9. It annoys me too, but I don't never say anything. n/t

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:21 AM

11. Although I use both properly, the other usages

are very, very common. There's little point in going after those errors. One can also say, "It is to be hoped that..." but that sounds old-fashioned and stilted. It's correct, though.

There are many other usages in the same class, where broad usage of technically incorrect grammar is widespread. Examples include treating "media" or "data" as singular nouns. Usage has made that pretty much acceptable at this point, and both are used as singular nouns almost everywhere now.

Similarly, using "they" as a singular pronoun has also become virtually correct, due to broad usage as a gender-neutral pronoun. I don't like it, and don't use it that way in my writing, but it has become extremely common and no longer warrants discussion, in my opinion.

Grammarians who are prescriptive about usage are fighting a losing battle. Descriptive grammar is more useful, since the language is always changing in its usage.

Still, there are battles that should continue to be fought with regard to grammar.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:29 AM

15. Sometimes just getting something typed is a miracle on an IPhone.

 

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Response to yeoman6987 (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 01:43 PM

45. iPhone

And then it "corrects" your spelling just as you press SEND. Drives me crazy.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:29 AM

16. I've always thought that correction of grammar is a benefit given to us.

 

I've always thought that the correction of grammar is a benefit given to us by others. The appellation of 'Grammar Nazi" is merely a coping mechanism to better deal with the lack of basic English skills by half-wits and the sub-literate.

That said, I also realize there is a relevant time and place for anything, as even sincere criticism and gentle correction may be irrelevant to a given situation, and used more for one's own self-validation than a desire for more effective communication.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:50 AM

17. english

But how many languages do you speak? Fluently. The people you criticize might not speak English as a first language.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:51 AM

18. Must the term "Nazi" be used in this context?

 

That is a pet peeve of mine.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:54 AM

20. I agree with you, but slang is slang.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:01 PM

25. "Indian giver" used to be a common slang term

 

Along with my other slang phrases that have rightfully been retired.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #25)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:07 PM

29. I think retiring words from slang requires a general consensus -

it takes a critical mass of people to realize the offensiveness first.

We really need a thread about how f**k is way more acceptable than any number of old slang phrases. Call it political correctness, but it makes for a better world.The words we use affect the way we think.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #29)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:49 PM

52. Well now that would be offensive to me. There's nothing correct about guttural language. nt

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Response to oberliner (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:21 PM

31. What if the OP edited speeches for Hitler?

 

Then would be okay to call himself or herself a Grammar Nazi?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:40 PM

38. Aw, are we being mean to the poor helpless nazis?

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Response to Iggo (Reply #38)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:49 PM

53. No - it minimizes what the Nazis really were

 

By using the term as a synonym for someone who is a stickler about something, in this case grammar.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:45 PM

39. I did nazi that one coming

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Response to pinboy3niner (Reply #39)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:50 PM

54. Now that was clever

 

But I guess my point is that I don't like how the term nazi is used to describe a mean person or a stickler for the rules.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:53 AM

19. I could not care less, nor give fewer shits. n/t

 

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:55 AM

21. Congratulations on getting that phrase correct - most people leave

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #21)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:00 PM

24. You could have put that worse.

 

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 11:58 AM

22. Nein! As a former English teacher, I think mushy grammar is a plot by math majors! Haha!

 

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Response to WinkyDink (Reply #22)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:03 PM

26. As a former engineer, I find this confusion very painful because it is

based on the difference between an approximation and an actual count.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:04 PM

27. So many things in life are. Heh.

 

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 01:06 PM

43. Non-count nouns are usually counted based on weight or volume.

Although a "bag of sugar" or a "glass of milk" are both approximations at best.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 01:38 PM

44. As a former engineer, one of my pet peeves is "400% less calories!"

 

Not because of confusion about less vs fewer but because it's impossible to create a can of soda with -300 calories.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:06 PM

28. Maybe. But I'm glad you are. People should strive for better communication skills and

that means paying attention to grammar. Otherwise, you end up with garbled thoughts like those that come out of Sarah Plain's mouth and way too many posters here at DU.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:17 PM

30. Do you understand what they're trying to say, these people whose grammar bothers you so much?

You are a poster on an internet forum, you aren't a high school English teacher.

Personally, I have a much bigger problem with people who post illogical or incoherent thoughts than those who use grammatical short cuts in their posts.

You may characterize yourself as a grammar Nazi, to me you're just making a big deal out of a very small problem.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:22 PM

32. Passive voice

 

Drives me up the walls when that is typed.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:33 PM

34. One may note more or fewer confetti

assuming someone took the time to count every individual confettus.

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Response to Cirque du So-What (Reply #34)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:54 PM

42. Wouldn't that be "confetto"?

Italian, from *confectus and parallel to French "confit."

I'm a cross-lingual grammar fascist.

(There, that should solve the problem of unjust denigration of Nazis. Have to say bad things about those who vandalize English. Oops. I just reduced an ethnonym to a pejorative expression! The poor downtrodden Vandals really need an advocacy group. It's like being caught in a Gothic horror. Damn, just dissed the Goths.)

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:37 PM

35. Nice post, Stannis.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:37 PM

36. So I am lead to believe

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 12:39 PM

37. Personally, I'm on board with the less/fewer thing

And I make a point of using them in the formally correct way.

But in reality I recognize that this distinction is becoming less and less robust, and it will almost certainly disappear altogether before long.

I don't recall exactly how long ago it was, but the duo of skilled Googlers who host A Way With Words declared the distinction arbitrary and more or less entirely a matter of preference, at least in one direction. You wouldn't swap "less/fewer" if you're saying that your friends are "less reckless than they were in high school," but you can swap "less/fewer" if you're saying that you have "fewer high school friends still alive, thanks to their recklessness."


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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 01:57 PM

47. Yes.

It's still a free country. Grammar Nazi on...........

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:06 PM

48. the less you worry about that

the fewer times you will be aggravated over pedantry.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:22 PM

49. No. My mother taught English and that was one of her pet peeves.

Now I always notice it myself.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:44 PM

51. I guess it depends

 

It's OK to correct someone who says, "Lots of people came to my party." Just keep in mind that you probably won't be invited to the next one.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 02:59 PM

56. Similarly

I become annoyed with the use of "over" as opposed to "more than."

"Over" means "extending directly upward from."

"More than" means "in greater number than."

"Over fifty people came to my party." No, more than fifty people came to your party.

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Response to hedgehog (Original post)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 03:01 PM

57. I am very picky about correct usage.

 

Aside from the ones mentioned here, getting lie and lay wrong makes me crazy.

Likewise getting he/him, she/her, I/me, they/then wrong, in short not having a clue about the difference between a subject and an object pronoun is also irritating.

And of course anytime someone here posts about it, a lot of posters think it's quite cute to deliberately craft ungrammatical sentences. No, it's not.

And of course I'm sure this post will generate all sorts of supposedly charming and grammatically incorrect responses.

Flaunting ignorance isn't cute or charming.

Which brings me of course to flaunt/flout.

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Response to SheilaT (Reply #57)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 03:12 PM

58. The substitution of Them/they for gender specific pronouns

also is used by queer people who are between genders.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #58)

Thu Jan 21, 2016, 03:48 PM

59. Oh, that I know.

 

And there's an ongoing movement to use they/them as a valid substitution for he/she, his/hers. I'm fine with that. It's the lack of understanding of the difference between an object pronoun and a subject pronoun that makes me crazy.

About twenty or so years ago, when our kids were young, I noted to my sister that she never corrected her childrens' usage when it was wrong. Sister pretty much always got all those things correct herself, but she said, Oh, they'll learn soon enough by hearing the right usage. Wrong. Her kids, now adults constantly say things like, "Me and Susie went downtown".

My kids, likewise adults, always get it right, including the notoriously tricky lie and lay, mainly because I worked with them on it.

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