Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Why look dumb if you can avoid it? Good grammar can help


Found this list of thirteen grammatical errors that “make you look dumb.” And it’s true. They do. So why do I keep seeing them in almost everything I read online? (Patrons of What The Hell excluded, of course.)

Listen, these are so fundamental that the only reason they exist is out of laziness. We’re in a hurry. No time to glance over our dispatches before we press Send or Publish. Everyone knows what we’re trying to say anyway, so why obsess over it?

Well, because people might get certain ideas about you. Such as, You’re dumb. (Or, if you prefer, Your dumb.)

Your/you’re is especially grating to me, but I also get fired up about the old ’s thing too, as in forming a plural that way. Happens a lot. It’s (as in it is) relatively easy as well to sort out the whole Joe and me vs. Joe and I issue. You just have to think it through.

But like I said. We’re all pretty busy.

Between you and I, this is all just a big waist of thyme.

(Note: Any grammatical errors in this post are intentional and strictly for rhetorical effect.)

17 comments on “Why look dumb if you can avoid it? Good grammar can help

  1. Charles Yallowitz
    February 11, 2014

    I’ve wondered about some of the foolish mistakes. For some people, I think they’re in a rush and don’t pay attention to what they’re writing. Others depend exclusively on autocorrect. The ones that make me laugh are those that defend their post by screaming Grammar Nazi at the top of their lungs.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 11, 2014

      I often hear defenses like, “What does it matter?” — which may be fine for casual emails & such but is way out of line for formal communication.

      Who taught these youngsters?!

  2. Dylan Hearn
    February 11, 2014

    Your/you’re is the one that gets my teeth grinding, and I see supposedly highly educated people do this ALL THE TIME! Aargh!

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 11, 2014

      It’s shocking how common these mistakes are… Almost as if the people who make them think they’re correct! Aargh!

  3. ericjbaker
    February 11, 2014

    As a professional grammar Nazi, I applaud you.

  4. Michelle Proulx
    February 11, 2014

    When I’m just casually chatting with a friend on Facebook chat or whatever, grammar mistakes abound, and that’s fine. But when people start posting status updates riddled with wrong words and oddly placed commas … it drives me crazy. And I *know* that not everyone cares as much about grammar as I do, but still … I wouldn’t necessarily say I assume they’re less intelligent than me because of the mistakes, but I definitely get annoyed at seeing the mistake and have to remind myself that pointing it out will make me look like a crazy person.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 11, 2014

      True. I seldom point out errors to the offender. I just talk about them behind their back. 😉

  5. Phillip McCollum
    February 11, 2014

    I certainly wouldn’t want to come across as a grammatical looser!

  6. sknicholls
    February 11, 2014

    There are certain little things like your and you’re that annoy the hell out of me. Especially in published works. I try to look past them them but find myself doing mental corrections all along the way. I recently reblogged a post from someone who made that error. I was hesitant to reblog it because the error was in the title, but I figured WTH. Their point with the post had nothing to do with their grammar so I did, and they don’t make any claims to be a writer. It is not why they blog, but it pained me.

    There and their, then and than, hear and here…it is all grating.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 11, 2014

      That is a tough call. I wonder if there’s a way of saying, pleasantly, “I’d love to reblog this post, but maybe you’d like to correct the error in the title before I do.”

      Maybe not…

      I almost wish I were one of them. Life would be so uncomplicated.

  7. John W. Howell
    February 11, 2014

    Good post. Always nice to review.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 11, 2014

      Always imperative to review… The writing is just half the battle. 😜

  8. J. S. Collyer
    February 12, 2014

    Phew! I don’t do any of these. Or, at least, not on purpose.

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2014 by in Writing and tagged , .
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