When I was a wee lass, I wrote extremely pretentious poetry on Microsoft Word. (This is before we got Macs, which is essentially B.C. in my household.) It was even typed in Papyrus, the most pretentious of all fonts, which should only be used to write the word Serenity and nothing else. One day, I showed my mother a poem. She approved of it, as mothers do, but pointed out that I used the possessive of “it” (its) where I had meant to use the contraction of “it is” (it’s). I shrugged it off, but my mother pressed on. “Clare, that means you’re illiterate.”
As an avid reader, I was offended to my core, and have never made that mistake again. (My mother is brilliant.) Reared as I was on the wilds of the Internet, a great deal of incorrect grammar was beaten out of me by the time I entered high school. With spell check on Firefox and everything in between, if you’re a native English speaker, you really don’t have an excuse.
I occasionally see them–the grammar mistakes that make my very skin crawl, made mostly by native English speakers who should know better. In the interests of public safety, here are my three worst grammar pet peeves that make me bail on something immediately.
Obviously, seeing “its” where it should be “it’s” has stopped me in my tracks since that particular incident, but it has gotten worse for me over the years. When I’m reading something, I tend to read it out in my head, and when I edit something, I tend to read it out loud. “It’s” often translates out into “it is” in my head, and “its”, obviously, doesn’t–so it often throws me for a mental loop when I encounter it. This will serve me well as an editor, but it just annoys me when I encounter it on forums and the like.
The next is seeing “their” or any words with an “ei” in the middle misspelled. This isn’t so much because of the ubiquity of spell check, but rather because of your own personal spell check–your eyes! “Thier” just looks wrong. I can’t trust my eyes for a lot of spelling–there’s a scene in How I Met Your Mother where Ted, teaching his first class, can’t remember how to spell professor and gives it two “f”s, which is exactly how I feel. But with “their” and other words like that, it’s fairly easy to keep them straight.
The last is less of a specific grammar rule than a stylistic choice that I thought was universal until last year–the rules of ellipses. While there are no hard and fast rules about ellipses, seeing more than three in a row drives me up a wall, and there needs to be a space after it–like any piece of punctuation that’s not an apostrophe.
Luckily, these are mostly absent in the book blogging community, which almost makes it worse when I do run into them–they’re more painful than they would be if I encountered them everyday.
On a much sweeter note, Alayne of The Crowded Leaf awarded me for being a loyal commenter with the Dragon’s Loyalty Award! Oh, shiny.
Like everyone awarded with this lovely award, I’ve been asked to pass it on, so here is my very own Weyr of loyal commenters–TJ of Book Love Affair, Teresa of Shelf Love, Trisha of eclectic / eccentric, Christy of A Good Stopping Point, Jenny of Jenny’s Books, and Amy of Just Book Reading. This certainly isn’t to say that I don’t love everyone who stops by and comments–every comment makes my day brighter, as corny as that sounds. If I’ve tagged you, pick out your very own Weyr of three to seven loyal commenters!
In other news, I’ve got a bit of a posting buffer going on, which makes me quite happy. I’ve gotten through I’d Rather We Got Casinos, which was hilarious, and I’m currently reading Leviathan, which I’m enjoying thoroughly. I’m getting through a stack of library books at a pretty nice clip. I’m reading Melville’s “Benito Cereno” for class, and I have a few plays for theater. I think I might review most of them, except for Waiting for Godot, which would only turn into a long rant about why I hate Samuel Beckett. I’m also thoroughly looking forward to the kick-off of my portion of The Lord of the Rings readalong, which starts tomorrow!
What are your major grammar pet peeves?