Monday, September 30, 2013

If You Hate Grammar ...

If you hate grammar, you should try moving. Moving is the worst. It sucks! Moving heavy, awkward mattresses in and out of a U-Haul for eternity would be my Sisyphean version of hell. 

Why am I telling you this? Because I want sympathy for moving for over twelve hours today? Yes. But also because I will be without Wi-Fi until we get all that stuff sorted, so I won't be able to post and visit blogs for a week or so. 

I'll miss you!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Matters of Size

I just finished posting a couch on Craigslist. So if anyone needs a beautiful three-piece sofa set in excellent condition …

I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I would not use my grammar blog to try to sell you something. (Did I mention it’s in excellent condition?) 

I bring up my Craigslist experience merely as a way to share something grammatical. Actually, I am not sure it’s technically grammatical, but if not, it’s grammar-adjacent.

As I mentioned, I was posting the sofa set, and, since I like to be thorough, I decided to include the dimensions of the set. And as I was typing them up, I realized that I wasn’t sure if inches are represented by ‘ or “. So I Googled it, and I found that inches are represented by “. And then I thought to myself, “What if the zombie invasion happens and Wi-Fi is down and Google isn’t available and I need to know how to represent inches?”

At that moment, I realized I needed a way to remember what I had just learned. So here’s what I came up with. One of the most common ways to belittle men is to make fun of their penises, right? And isn’t two inches the go-to number? So if we remember that, then we can remember that inches are represented by two apostrophes. 

Who has a way to remember that feet are represented by one apostrophe?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wet Water

Once upon a time, many years ago, I lived in a land far far away. The land of which I speak is known as Sydney, Australia. I spent a couple of my birthdays there, and one year my mom sent me a birthday present. (Remind me to call her after this post to ask why she only sent a gift one year.) 

I love gifts, so I was excited, and I headed down to the post office (which in Australia is actually up).

When I got there, my package was waiting for me, but get this: they wanted me to pay for it. I can’t remember why; I think it was customs related. But the point is that it was my birthday and this was a GIFT—and there was no way I was going to pay for my birthday gift. 

Gifts, by definition, are free! That’s why they’re awesome! 

And that’s why offers like this, that we see all the time, are redundant: 

It’s like saying “wet water” or “famous celebrity” or “male chauvinist pig.”

(I don’t know about you, but every pig I’ve ever met has been a male chauvinist.) 

When we’re writing, we want to proofread for redundancies like these because we don’t want unnecessary words weighing down our sentences. 

One of the most common redundant phrases I see in my students’ papers is “The reason why I _______ is because _______.”

This can be cut down to “The reason I ______ is ______.” 

Another one that cracks me up is when sentences start with “As human beings, we should ________.”

As far as I know, we are all human beings, right? Isn’t it safe to assume our reader knows that?

Or am I out of the loop? Have aliens penetrated our atmosphere? 

That might explain Miley Cyrus’ abnormally long tongue.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Same on the Outside

I bought a box of ice cream sandwiches at the market today. Don’t judge me; it’s hot out. Plus, I was swayed by the fact that the box contained two different sandwich flavors: chocolate and vanilla. And if you don’t know this about me, I like a little variety when it comes to my desserts.

To clarify, it’s the ice cream part that comes in two different flavors; the outer cookie is the same chocolate flavor throughout the box. 

And in that way, my box of ice cream sandwiches reminds me of then and than. 

Like my ice cream sandwiches, then and than are the same on the outside: 


It’s the inside that really makes them different.

If there’s an a on the inside, it’s used to compare:

In general, I like chocolate more than vanilla.
And if there’s an e on the inside, it means “at that time” or “next in order of time or place.”

Back then, I could eat ten chocolate ice cream sandwiches then ten vanilla sandwiches.

And now that we’ve got that straight, we can all enjoy this:
However, if I absolutely had to choose between cuddling and sex, and it was with the twins in the picture above, I know which activity I'd rather do than the other. And so no one would feel left out, I'd do it with one twin then the other.