I’m not a grammar scholar but I do listen to the Grammar Girl podcast and if I wasn’t a counselor I might be an English teacher. Hasn’t anyone out there watched School House Rock…you know…Conjunction Junction? I don’t want to pick on the South but I have lived all over the US and I think the South gets the “Grammar Loser Award.” Awards are nice, no matter what they’re for. So try to think of this as a good thing, for the rest of the country gets its own awards for other things we won’t talk about today. Since I do kind of fantasize about being an English teacher (notice how I wrote “an” and not “a” before the word English, which just so happens to start with a vowel?) I’m going to go ahead and give a few grammar tips for those of you bored enough to read them. And, since I have been a college professor, I have that much more material to work with.
I noticed when I moved to the South that people like to make new words and new meanings with old words. They refer to their driver’s license as “them”. There is no “them”. A driver’s license is one thing. Just one. You don’t get a pair of them, or a set of them. They don’t come in a six pack. It’s one card. Just because the word license ends in the “s” sound doesn’t mean it’s plural. If it was plural (more than one), it would be licenses. It’s not licenses. It’s license. One, just one. A license.
Southerners also refer to a scale (like you weigh yourself on) as a set of scales. This so confuses me. Do you buy two scales? One for each foot? Then you would weigh twice as much. Do you buy two matching scales so you will have a set? I don’t get it. Everyone I know has one scale, just one. Not a set. I’ve never seen anyone with a matching set of scales side by side in their bathroom.
Moving on to the word to versus too. Notice I said “moving on to”. I didn’t say “moving on too”. I’m not sure what is so complicated about this but the word too means also, furthermore, very, more….get it? I would not say I’m going too the store. But I might say I’m going to the store too. I might also say don’t get too excited or I am too tired to care about the word to. I hope I don’t have to explain the word two. Humor me and pretend you know that two is a number. To sum up this concept, I might say that I too want to eat two gallons of ice cream. Then I will stand on my set of scales that will read 400 lbs (because the set makes it double).
Let’s talk about really remedial things, as if we haven’t already. You might think this isn’t necessary but have you every graded college term papers? If you have, you know it’s necessary. Folks, if you are writing a plural word, add an “s” on the end. And yes, I am talking to you college students, not you third graders who already know this. If I ate two candy bars (notice I used the word two correctly) I put an “s” on the end of bars. I would not have eaten two candy bar. Similar to that, the word mine is NEVER pluralized. There is no such thing as mines unless we are talking about gold mines or mines that are going to blow up. The kids are mine not mines. The car is mine, not mines. NEVER NEVER NEVER.
This bring us to there and their. Was anyone paying attention in grade school? I don’t know about anyone else but I was afraid to not pay attention. Maybe the rest of the world was more brave than me. Their is used to show ownership. Their kids were brats. There is used in the general sense. Look over there. See? Pretty simple.
I’ve saved the best for last. I LOVE it when people make up their own words (see me using their not there?). Everyday I hear words I have never heard before. I used to think I was stupid, had a limited vocabulary. Then I realized they weren’t real words. Now who’s stupid? A good example is the word therapize. Yes, one of my graduate students in the counseling program used the word therapize on a regular basis. I’m not sure what it means to therapize someone but I’m pretty sure I haven’t done it before. Should a graduate student who thinks therapize is a word be graduating? A common one is conversate. People, really? Who thought of this? We can have a conversation or we can converse, but we will not conversate. If you think you are conversating with me it is a one sided conversation because I’m not participating.
I hope I have help some of you understand how to conversate more better by using correctivated grammar. Their doesn’t seem to bee enough peoples who understand how to dew it. Won day I’ll boar ewe with punctuation.