Tuesday, October 11, 2011
peeves and passes
Recently, on a drive from Palmerston North to Auckland, I spent some time musing on which grammar issues bother me and which ones don't. Of course, the very fact that this issue was taking up space in my brain illustrates that I'm a Tragic Grammar Nut. I could have been taking in all the delicious signs of spring: the soft greens of newly unfurled leaves, spring lambs and calves, even little black piglets in one paddock. I could have been swelling with nationalistic pride; New Zealand is gripped by World Cup Fever so there were All Black flags everywhere, fluttering from cars, letter boxes, roof tops. One farmer had even filled a whole paddock with flags and black and silver balloons.
But no, I was thinking about grammar and punctuation.
What doesn't bother me? Well, I decided that comma splices in some situations (I recently read a PD James novel that was full of them) don't raise my blood pressure too much, especially if I can see the reason for them. Incomplete sentences don't worry me too much, again, if there's a reason for them. I can cope with some misplaced commas. And I'm very comfortable about starting sentences with conjunctions.
But what can't I live with? Sorry, I'm a stickler for apostrophes - even when the mistake doesn't really cause any confusion. I think this is a weakness in my character: I should be more forbearing, but there it is. I can't bear "should of" to such an extent that I would correct someone who uses such an expression, whether that person is a total stranger, a friend, a salesperson or my boss. But my biggest peeve is one that hit me in the face on this trip. We stopped in Hamilton for a meal at our favourite Turkish restaurant and there was a GIGANTIC advert which said, in letters half a mile high, "More data, less dollars". It was all I could do not to head to the nearest hardware store to buy a ladder, black paint and a paint brush and correct it. I was still yelling "FEWER dollars!!" as my partner bundled me hastily into the car, executed a swift u-turn, and headed back on to the motorway out to Auckland.
So what are the grammar errors you can live with? And which ones bring out the Grammar Nut in you?
Image source: https://mrswhitegsl.wikispaces.com/Words+to+the+Wise