what gets the grammar nazi's goat

i have a long list of things to write about but i haven't been in the zone lately and while i'm not a believer in the intangible inspiration, i've been unmotivated to write about the things that have been taking place around me. and there have been many, i don't know exactly where to start and whether i can narrate all of them in the coming days, so let me begin with something that does not require a lot of description nor a splash of photographs.

recently, i was approached by a colleague who asked if i could help her revise a document. she had heard from someone that i had "a gift for words". i didn't pretend to be surprised; false humility isn't my cup of tea, but i was more interested in knowing who had said it. i have been told similar things many times, often by complete strangers, since friends know that it gets to my head, but it flatters me no end and makes me feel good about myself. if anyone would ask what i'd like to do for the rest of my life, it would be to write, travel, and take pictures. preferably not separately.

so after i returned the document with my corrections and revisions, my colleague was so profuse with gratitude she insisted to pay for my services. it didn't take too much of my time, so i'm actually a little embarrassed to charge her a fee. i can practically do this with my left hand while the right is stirring a cup of hot chocolate. i am hypercritical when it comes to anything written, and i do not agree with anyone who says that precision in any language is unimportant. i place a high value on clarity and correctness of expression because it is the basis of human communication. i can be quite unforgiving when it comes to common and repeated mistakes. not that i am perfect. anyone who follows this blog will notice many errors, not because i'm stupid or ignorant, but because i'm careless, and i'm often unable to keep with the speed of my racing thoughts. nevertheless, a former editor once described my prose as impeccable. so this entry has sound basis after all. and what is this entry about exactly? well, i'm going to fire off the first 10 language mistakes that irk me most.

  1. confusion between contractions and possessives. a lot of people cannot tell the difference between you're and your, it's and its, they're and their. it's just irritatingly common. you're is short for you are, as in, "you're really cute", while your is a pronoun which indicates ownership, such as "your car is in the way". it gets trickier for other people with it's/its, but it really ought to be simple. when what you're trying to say is "it is raining outside", or "it has been six years", use it's, but its when you're trying to attribute possession to an object or a non-human, such as "its claws were sharp". they're is obviously a contraction of they are ("they're here"), while their attributes possession in the third person plural ("their house is big"). worse is when people confuse there and their.

  2. misuse of in lieu of. this really means "in its stead" or "in place of" someone or something. it is not a synonym of because or in view of. "in lieu of the president, we have the executive secretary."

  3. despite of is nearly as good to hear as irregardless. here's a simple rule: say "in spite of" but don't put the preposition of after despite. i.e., "despite your attempts at comedy..." or "despite the bad weather".

  4. with regards to is wrong, and i have this vivid anecdote of one time in law school when a professor lost her cool because a student kept repeating it. she said: "with regard! as regards! what school did you come from!?" so when it was my turn to recite, i made sure to demonstrate the correct idioms: with regard to, in regard to, as regards (which should never be followed by to), in respect of. and in case you're curious, that student was from our neighbor in katipunan.

  5. he's a gay is funny. and unkind to the ears. while gay is both a noun and an adjective, it's just plain wrong to say that someone "is a gay". one is a homosexual, yes, hence one is gay. normally, an indefinite article precedes a noun, but it doesn't come before an adjective. "he is a fat" and "she is slut" are just unpleasant. to correct these, say instead "he is a fat slob" and "she is slutty".

  6. abuse of '. an apostrophe is placed before an s to denote ownership, such as "the car's door", but not after a noun in its plural form ("several cars are parked outside").

  7. non-use of '. i'm not sure if people are just being cute when they take out the apostrophes when they contract words, but it's really irritating to find these: cant, im, ive, youve, isnt, wouldnt, dont.

  8. the confusion between lose and loose and loss and lost. obviously, the first is a verb ("to lose you would be devastating"), the second is an adjective ("he was wearing loose clothing") but also a verb ("they let him loose"), the third is a noun ("i grieve for your loss"), and the fourth is an adjective ("i am lost in the wilderness"). no one wants to hear "it's your lost" (or worse, "its you're lost").

  9. did [pronoun] [verb in the past tense]. this absolutely makes me cringe each time i hear it. and i have been cringing fairly often, i tell you. i've heard so many permutations, but the most common is: "did you saw it?"

  10. 1st, 2th, 3nd, 4rd, 5rd, 6nd, 8rd, 9nd, 10nd. seriously, i knew this by heart even before i finished the first grade.

obviously, i've left out other commonly-made errors such as subject-verb agreement, misuse of prepositions and misplaced modifiers, but those are really difficult for people who normally don't deal with the english language. yes, i'm not such a nazi after all.
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haha. ako na, ako na!

to quote lea salonga: pasensya ka na, hindi kasi ako tulad mong napaka-perfect.

happy new year poma!