Author Topic: Grammar that makes you cringe  (Read 385053 times)

Sophie Days.

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #75 on: May 02, 2008, 09:14:17 am »
Weather presenters on the TV have recently begun to use 'the nightime hours' or 'daytime hours'.
I thought we had collective nouns for these; night and day?

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #76 on: May 02, 2008, 09:24:00 am »
On the other hand I'll stick to "One less car" because the alternative might be right, but it sounds and reads terribly.

"One car fewer" sounds fine to me.

Woofage

  • Ain't no hooves on my bike.
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #77 on: May 02, 2008, 09:25:03 am »

I think you are trying too hard here. You would always say "the pair of them are going shopping", not "the pair is", although there is only one pair (and you can have several pairs).

There's a difference between collective and plural action. If I say "My team at work is doing a sponsored bike ride," that suggests a collective action enforced by management: I, as a member of the team, have no choice about being involved. If I say "My team at work are doing a sponsored bike ride," that suggests that the individuals in the team are jointly entered, but not that it's an action of the team as a whole---I might very well not take part.

Well, there are always exceptions!

I take your points about collective vs. plural action. I would say that my examples are those of collective action, therefore the singular rule applies, surely?
Pen Pusher

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #78 on: May 02, 2008, 09:27:05 am »
I rather like the oxford comma - it makes the list read better in my head, and so I tend to use it. 

Except where used to aid clarity as illustrated by Frenchie and Jezza above, it's irrational. Lists are built from right to left:

red

yellow and red

blue, yellow and red

Why would you suddenly put a comma after yellow in the last example but not in the second?

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #79 on: May 02, 2008, 09:28:02 am »
On the other hand I'll stick to "One less car" because the alternative might be right, but it sounds and reads terribly.

"One car fewer" sounds fine to me.

I'm not fussed over "one car less".  It sounds ok, plus it could be taken to mean "a person without a car. e.g. a car less person.  You wouldn't use the word fewer in that case.

Regulator

  • That's Councillor Regulator to you...
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #80 on: May 02, 2008, 09:30:49 am »
Sorry it does matter.  English is a wonderful language, in part due to its complexities and oddities.  I don't want it to become Leftpondian or txt speak.  Let's celebrate its diversity and quirks.

[fx: clears throat]

Having spent a considerable amount of time west of the Atlantic Ocean - where I believe lies this 'Leftpondia' of which you speak - I feel qualified to comment upon your remarks.

Rubbish!

Upon arriving in these blighted blessed Isles I was shocked and disgusted by the 'quality' of English.  From people on the pavements to signs in shops to internationally-respected newspapers, the English language is butchered.  I knew enough about the differences between the varieties of 'North American' English and 'British' English before arriving here. These don't qualify as butchery (though some may disagree).  I mean spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I would not be so foolish as to say that 'US' English is a better variant than 'UK', but in my experience the US locals seem to have a better grasp of their language.  Don't quote the current US president or soundbites and 'vox pop' interviews - that can cut both ways.

I quite enjoy winding up the locals when I'm criticised for using 'American' words like Fall instead of Autumn.  Do I need to point out which word is 'English' and which is 'foreign'?

There are times I would like to see more standardisation among the various varieties of English, but on the other hand I am not a supporter of American hegemony.

Live and let live, I say.  Viva la difference!


I think you mean "Vive la difference!"   ;)
Quote from: clarion
I completely agree with Reg.

Green Party Councillor

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #81 on: May 02, 2008, 09:37:22 am »
Should be "fewer", innit... If it's a quantity of something like flour, it's less...

Should be such as  :demon:

In comparisons, "such as" is inclusive and "like" is exclusive.

"I wish I had a bike like a Mercian or an Argos" means that I'd like a quality hand-built machine, but from a different brand.

"I wish I had a bike such as a Mercian or an Argos" means that they are two of the makes I am considering.

Hence the above sentence refers to any similar substance with the exception of flour itself.

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #82 on: May 02, 2008, 09:39:24 am »
This is a very interesting thread!  :thumbsup:
Frenchie - Train à Grande Vitesse

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #83 on: May 02, 2008, 09:39:44 am »
I'm fairly hopeless with grammar and speeling.  I try hard but I never quite grasp it properly.  I am however interested in pedantry and etymology...
I find this useful!  Many thanks to the fair Arch of the CC parish for posting this many moons ago.


Rools ov Inglish…

"To start with, here are some short rules. The point is that each of them illustrates the common error that it describes. Read them carefully, and be sure that you can see the error.

1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.

2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.

4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

5. Avoid cliches like the plague.

6. Also, always absolutely avoid and abjure annoying alliteration.

7. Be more or less specific.

8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) inappropriate.

9. No sentence fragments.

10. One should never, ever generalise.

11. Contractions aren't necessary, and shouldn't be used.

12. Do not use no double negatives.

13. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

14. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.

15. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.

16. Kill all exclamation marks!!!!!!

17. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

18. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place, and omit it when its not needed.

19. Puns are for children, not groan adults.

20. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. "

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #84 on: May 02, 2008, 09:42:37 am »
As a foreigner what I have learnt about writing in English, and what I enjoy about it, is that short, crisp sentences are best. In English (science and engineering at least) it is about being prescise and concise. This is of of the beauty of the language over Romance languages for example: simplicity and clarity.
Frenchie - Train à Grande Vitesse

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #85 on: May 02, 2008, 09:46:13 am »
I have very poor spoken grammear, Mrs W is always correcting me

I shall refrain from adding a missing full stop.  Or substituting a colon or semicolon for the comma.  ;D

I don't see a problem with "less", when referring to countable items.  Indeed most other languages don't have separate words for "less" and "fewer".  Remember also that the English language is ever changing with the times.
In Swedish they have a similar scheme for the word "More".  They have Fler and Mer.  You use Fler when you are referring to something countable or quantifiable, and Mer when unquantifiable  e.g:

Fler fragor? = more questions
Fler bil = more cars
Mer vatten = more water

I find it hard to grasp the construction of foreign languages because I have a poor grasp of my own's structure.

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #86 on: May 02, 2008, 09:48:20 am »
...Simple User Interface

Then I realised that the above could be interpreted as "Interface to Simple Users"
...He entitled it "Elementary Particle Physics".

In each case you have an adjective and a noun qualifying the final noun. To make the adjective qualify the first noun instead, hyphenate the first two words.

  • Elementary-particle physics
  • Simple-user interface (which of course is exactly what you didn't mean)

If they are not hyphenated, the basic assumption is that you mean the opposite:

  • Elementary physics of particles
  • Simple interface for users

Of course, such conventions only work to convey meaning if everyone agrees on them. That's part of the function of grammar :demon:

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #87 on: May 02, 2008, 09:49:30 am »
Some English grammar no-nos, particularly the split infinitive and the preposition-at-the-end-of-the-sentence, are rather spurious.  They were based on an attempt to fit Latin grammatical rules onto a then new language in order to give it credibility.  In Latin it's impossible to split an infinitive.

It's acceptable to split infinitives nowadays, and the Churchill example is an excellent case for sometimes using a preposition to finish an sentence.

However*, rumours of whom's demise are greatly exaggerated and the really difficult subjunctive mood seems to be making a comeback.


*I particularly despise the use of "however" to join two sentences, however, lots of people do it  :hand:
Never tell me the odds.

HTFB

  • The Monkey and the Plywood Violin (RIP)
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #88 on: May 02, 2008, 09:52:55 am »
In comparisons, "such as" is inclusive and "like" is exclusive.

"I wish I had a bike like a Mercian or an Argos" means that I'd like a quality hand-built machine, but from a different brand.

"I wish I had a bike such as a Mercian or an Argos" means that they are two of the makes I am considering.

Where do you get this from? I read "such as" as expository: " I wish I had a bike such as a Mercian or an Argos" is what you'd say to someone who knew Mercians and Argotes, but was a bit shaky about the more general concept of a bike.

If your other half is gazing in a window and says "I wish I had a bike like that", and you dive into the shop to haggle carefully over the closest possible match among their stock to the one in the window, but not the one in the window itself, your generous gesture will go astray...


Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #89 on: May 02, 2008, 09:53:22 am »
Personal pet hate (but highly debatable in terms of actual usage over many years): "different to" or "different than".

The roots of the word "different" are in the Latin "carry apart". "Carry apart to" is an oxymoron, and "carry apart than" just doesn't make sense at all, so anything but "different from" clashes in the mind.

Discuss...

Andrij

  • Андрій
  • Ερασιτεχνικός μισάνθρωπος
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #90 on: May 02, 2008, 09:55:27 am »
Live and let live, I say.  Viva la difference!


I think you mean "Vive la difference!"   ;)

I stand corrected.  :-[

But I still think it was a good effort, especially considering how difficult French spelling can be.  Also, I have never studied that language, but that will change in a few weeks.  :)
;D  Andrij.  I pronounce you Complete and Utter GIT   :thumbsup:

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #91 on: May 02, 2008, 09:57:53 am »
In comparisons, "such as" is inclusive and "like" is exclusive.

Where do you get this from?

You want me to justify my opinions? ;)

OK, I own up, that one is just the way I naturally read things. I may well have read it in Fowler, but I can't lay hands on my copy at present.

I'd just hope that the bike in the window was the wrong size ;D

HTFB

  • The Monkey and the Plywood Violin (RIP)
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #92 on: May 02, 2008, 10:00:54 am »
OK, I own up, that one is just the way I naturally read things. I may well have read it in Fowler, but I can't lay hands on my copy at present.
It's not in Gower's second edition of Fowler. I can't lay hands on a copy of any other edition without going over to the other bookcase.  ;)

Fowler has some particularly scathing words for the superstitious avoidance of "different to"---it's certainly wrong in general to appeal to Latin for questions of English prepositional usage---and gives some examples of where "different than" is correct.

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #93 on: May 02, 2008, 10:10:14 am »
Shakespeare split infinitives and used double negatives, but then he wrote before rules of English were invented.

Grammar rules are useful as a basis for clear communication, and can be a blight on the language if slavishly followed.

Speech is often less formal than the written word, partly because context and inflexion reduce ambiguity. However the apostrophe is finding its way into print more and more, and forms such as 'I'm' and 'you're' seem to be more common than 'I am' or 'you are'. I'm not sure why this is.

HTFB

  • The Monkey and the Plywood Violin (RIP)
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #94 on: May 02, 2008, 10:15:54 am »
I am a pretty equable chap, for a pedant. But I admit to a small cringe at hearing, as is now almost invariable, "may" for "might": "The failed bombers of 21 July may have killed several hundred people".  No they bleeding didn't.


Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #95 on: May 02, 2008, 10:39:01 am »
Should be "fewer", innit... If it's a quantity of something like flour, it's less...

Should be such as  :demon:


And to think I almost said I loved you for trouncing the Oxford comma  ;)

Well spotted. I actually dislike the use of "like" instead of "such as", so it just goes to show we can't all be perfect ;D

border-rider

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #96 on: May 02, 2008, 10:51:57 am »
You would always say "the pair of them are going shopping", not "the pair is", although there is only one pair (and you can have several pairs).

But there you are using "the pair of them" numerically, in the same way as "the two of them".  You could also say  "the three of them", and it is a direct substituation for "they", but with numerical information

Yes you can have a pair, but you can't have a three or a two.

Quote
There's a difference between collective and plural action.

That is what I meant.

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #97 on: May 02, 2008, 10:55:39 am »
Evidence found :)

Here's an exposition of such as and like linked to the US business-school "Graduate Management Admission Test".

HTFB

  • The Monkey and the Plywood Violin (RIP)
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #98 on: May 02, 2008, 11:17:07 am »
Evidence found :)

Here's an exposition of such as and like linked to the US business-school "Graduate Management Admission Test".
Your example is on a page which confuses "there" and "their", and cannot decide between a question and its answer: "Why the above sentence is wrong?". Do you really want to call it in evidence?

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #99 on: May 02, 2008, 11:45:48 am »
Incorrect use of Fewer and Less is either laziness or ignorance. One is excusable and the other can be dealt with through education.

There's a pet hate of mine in one of the Avatars on this thread. "Weather conditions". A tautology.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.