Archives for posts with tag: spelling

Grammar nazism is a populist movement.  Why?  Because all you need is a single factoid and you can spend weeks acting high and mighty.  All you’ve really done is identify a point of difference between your community and another community in linguistic evolution.  That’s not to say that one of you isn’t wrong in the academic sense.  But the wrongness of someone’s grammar or speech is contingent on them caring about being right in the academic sense.

Well for all of you who really do want to be right, here are a hefty handful of expressions that people constantly get wrong.  If the first and second and even third bother you too, just wait.  You’ll be embarrassed before long.

WRONG: I could care less
RIGHT: I couldn’t care less

If you could care less that means you are above a zero on the scale of caring.  It does not denote an upper limit, simply that your level of care is between infinite and the smallest measure of care.

WRONG: For all intensive purposes
RIGHT: For all intents and purposes

The intensiveness of the purposes is not in question, so why would you bring it up?  And what kind of thing is acceptable for intensive purposes and not for everyday purposes?  Carpet shampoo?  Dump trucks perhaps?

WRONG: Hone in
RIGHT: Home in

I think you all know what it means to hone something and it would be too condescending to explain.

WRONG: Each one worse than the next
RIGHT: Each one worse than the last

If each one were worse than the next, then things would be constantly improving.  Of course there is a temporal paradox contained in this statement, but regardless, it’s nonsense.

WRONG: Dumb as a doorknob
RIGHT: Dumb as a doornail

A doorknob is a perfectly useful object which, as far as I can see, should be no dumber than any other inanimate object.  On the contrary, a doornail is designed expressly to be beaten on the head by a steel pin for its whole life.  That’s why it’s dumb.

God it feels good to get that off my chest.  I could go on, but I’d rather save some for later.

I do feel somehow that this kind of post trespasses on the good will of my readers, and so I submit myself to any criticism.  Please find a mistake in one of my posts and ruthlessly shame me for my stupidity.

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Irregardless is not a word.  Irrespective is a word.  Irrigardless will not become a word, it will not appear in the dictionary irrespective of now many times you say it.  Putting an “i” at the beginning of a word is what’s called a negative prefix.  It turns a word into its negative form.  Irresponsible, for example, is the opposite of responsible.  Irrespective means not respective, or to not take something into account.  I’ll use it in a sentence:

“I am going to keep writing mean thing about language irrespective of your feelings.”

Putting less on the end of a word is a negative suffix.  You take a word like gut, brain, thought, wit, and ad less to get gutless, brainless, thoughtless, or witless.  Oddly enough, all these words describe people who say irregardless.  It already means without regard.  Therefore to put an “i” at the beginning gives you a double negative.  Irregardless means “not without regard”.  I’ll use it in a sentence as if it were a real word:

“Irregardless of your plans for this friday, are you free for dinner?”

You see?  It’s stupid!  And that’s using it correctly, which no one ever has because we already have a word for “not without regard” and it works pretty well.  So stop saying it.  It means exactly the opposite of what you think it does and it’s hard to be more wrong than totally and completely wrong.

Just to put things in perspective: if you meant to go to the grocery store and you ended up at the cleaners, you were pretty wrong.  If you meant to go to the grocery store and you ended up at the bottom of the India Ocean you were really very wrong.  Saying irregardless is like being as wrong as it is possible to be wrong, like ending up in the farthest corner of the universe on your way to the grocery store.  So stop.