Grammar Police

17 Feb

If a Grammar Police is ever formed, we want to be on the squad.  We like to correct other people’s grammar, especially those we know well and love.  Most of the time, we really don’t care about the mistake, we just like being pedantic pains in the ass.

There is one grammatical error, however, that grates on our nerves like fingernails on a blackboard.  We don’t know exactly what tense it is, but we’ll call it the past perfect conditional.  Years ago at a stop sign, a friend was irked that we had allowed another car to proceed before we entered the intersection. “You could have went!”, he declared.  We were horrified, and not just at our friend’s back-seat driving.  We don’t know what it is about the construction that we find so abhorrent, but we just want to put our hands over our ears whenever we hear ‘have went’ used in place of ‘have gone’.

word balloon

No, I could not have.

We first became aware of our other pet peeve when we were on jury duty in a slip and fall case (the two parties ended up settling out of court.)  A lawyer had asked a witness whether a substance on the pavement was inherently slippery.   “Not in and of itself”, responded the witness.  While not grammatically incorrect, the term ‘in and of itself’ strikes us as excessively wordy.  What’s wrong with ‘not  in itself’, or ‘not by itself?’

The third word that grates on our nerves isn’t grammatically incorrect at all, we just don’t like the word.  The word is  … bra.  We don’t like it because to us it sounds vaguely disgusting, like the sound someone makes when choking.  “She purchased a bra.”  To us, that conjures up an image of someone going to a seedy marketplace in a bad part of town.  “She purchased a brassiere.” Ah, that’s better. Sounds much classier, doesn’t it?  We were recently in an auto parts store when we saw a box containing a ‘nose bra’, a thing apparently designed to protect the front ends of sports cars.  We wouldn’t buy one even if we had a sports car.  If they change the name to ‘nose brassiere’ however, we just might reconsider.


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