Last month, we highlighted the StyleBlueprint team’s biggest grammar “icks.” Today, let’s talk about YOUR most cringe-worthy grammar peeves. Since the beginning of the Grammar Guru column (over three years now!), you all have written in with messages saying you feel “seen,” have learned something new, or have another faux pas to add to the list. So, without further ado, here are some of the biggest grammar pet peeves, according to you!
MIXING UP “I” AND “ME”
Grammar Gripe: My number one pet peeve is when people say “me” instead of “I.” Paul Simon started it all with his song back in 1972. Me and Julio went down to the schoolyard? Really? Would ME go down to the schoolyard without Julio? No! I would go to the schoolyard! Even broadcast journalists say it. It’s now part of our cultural language. — SB Reader Karen C.
Grammar Guru Weighs In: This was far above the most mentioned error in my inbox. It is one of my most-cringe-worthy, too. People are generally afraid to use “me” in a sentence. The easiest way to determine if you need “me” or “I” is to remove the other person from the scenario. Kathy and another StyleBlueprint reader, Will, gave some great examples.
INCORRECT: “Let’s keep this between you and I.” (Would you say, “Let’s keep this between I?” NO!)
CORRECT: “Let’s keep this between you and me.”
INCORRECT: “This meant so much to Hugh and I’” (Would you say, “This meant so much to I?” NO!)
CORRECT: “This meant so much to Hugh and me.”
INCORRECT: “Santa gave my brother and I presents. (Would you say, “Santa gave I presents?” NO!)
CORRECT: “Santa gave my brother and me presents.”
SAYING “I’S” … EVER.
Grammar Gripe: One of the worst grammar errors I read or hear is a sentence like “Peter and I’s trip to the Bahamas.” — SB Reader Kathy A.
Grammar Guru Weighs In: Ding ding ding! “I” + apostrophe + “s” is never correct. Again, separate the two people involved, and it will give you your answer!
INCORRECT: “Peter and I’s trip to the Bahamas” (Would you say, “I’s trip?” NO)
INCORRECT: “Mine and Peter’s trip to the Bahamas” (Would you say, “mine trip?” NO)
CORRECT: “Peter’s and my trip to the Bahamas.” (You would say “Peter’s trip” and “my trip.” BOOM.)
“ONE OF THE ONLY”
Grammar Gripe: Good morning, Zoe. I enjoyed reading about the staff’s grammar pet peeves. My favorite might be the phrase “one of the only.” — SB Reader Sandra C.
Grammar Guru Weighs In: WOW, Sandra, thank you for bringing this to my attention. When you say “one of ____,” it implies that there are multiple to pick from. Otherwise, why wouldn’t we just say “the only?” In other words, there cannot be multiples of the only thing.
INCORRECT: “We got one of the only flights available.”
CORRECT: “We got one of the few flights available.”
CORRECT: “We got the only flight available.”
SAYING “ANYWAYS” INSTEAD OF “ANYWAY”
Grammar Gripe: A huge grammar peeve of mine, which may be wrong from my retired point of view, is the word “anyways.” Webster may have added it as a legitimate new-age word without my knowledge. I find it used more by a younger group of word whackers. I never thought anyways was a word, and it quietly drives me over the edge when I hear it. My response is much like when one hears fingernails on a chalkboard. Keep up the good work! — SB Reader Pam R.
Grammar Guru Weighs In: You are correct, Pam. “Anyways” is not a word. It should only ever be “anyway.” I have another installment where I cover this one in depth.
MISUSING “LAY” AND “LIE”
Grammar Gripe: [One of] my pet peeves is misusing “lie” and “lay.” For example, “She was just laying around the house.” — SB Reader Jane S.
Grammar Guru Weighs In: I also hate this one, Jane. I love explaining this rule. (I outline a few usage tips in this previous Grammar Guru edition.) “Lay” requires a direct object. You “lay” your yoga mat on the floor. “Lie” does not require a direct object. So, you “lie” down on the yoga mat. The best trick: “lay” sounds like “place,” and “lie” sounds like “recline.”
INCORRECT: “I just want to lay by the pool.”
CORRECT: “I just want to lie by the pool.”
NOT PRONOUNCING A HARD “T”
Grammar Gripe: [My biggest grammar pet peeve] is when the letter “t” is not pronounced when it should be pronounced. For example, instead of saying” button,” I hear many say “bu- in,” or instead of “mountain,” they pronounce it “moun- in.” Many young news reporters do this. — SB Reader Holly Q.
Grammar Guru Weights In: This is an interesting mistake that is (hopefully) only made in audible speech. Another one that comes to mind is when you hear “could of” instead of “could have.” However, this slip of the tongue has caused people to actually write “could of,” which is wholly and egregiously wrong. We love verbal shortcuts, it seems.
USING AN APOSTROPHE TO MAKE SOMETHING PLURAL
Grammar Gripe: My biggest pet peeve is the misuse of the apostrophe. I went to a wedding where everything from the napkins to the party favors to the giant neon sign read “The Smith’s.” The Smith’s what? I kept wanting to ask. And why do people think that plural numbers require an apostrophe? I get “She was born in the 1900’s” and “When I was in my 20s” all the time. Bugs me to death! Perhaps we can stamp out runaway misuse of this tiny little punctuation mark! — SB Reader Gaye S.
Grammar Guru Weighs In: I think I love you, Gaye! I have covered apostrophes in this episode (last names) and this one (general apostrophe rules) that I highly suggest everyone reread before ordering holiday cards. An apostrophe NEVER makes something plural. Just add an “-s” or an “-es.”
GETTING “YOUR” AND “YOU’RE” WRONG
Grammar Gripe: My greatest grammar pet peeve is using “YOUR” and “YOU’RE wrong.” I see it often on social media, and I cringe! The end of my rant! — SB Reader Blair R.
Grammar Guru Weighs In: I feel your pain, Blair. If you are shortening “you + are,” it must be “you’re.” To show possession, use “your.”
I cannot thank you all enough for airing your grammar grievances to me. If you have more grammar peeves, send them my way. I bet we will have enough for a part two!
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