Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Improper Poll: Apostropeeved…and Feeling Weally Larry

So…this week’s poll is about grammatical peeves. I’ve mentioned before that I get annoyed when I keep reading plural’s that have been made into possessive’s by the (fairly recent) tendency to add an apostrophe to everything with an s on the end. I’m sure it’s because spellcheck isn’t really able to catch these mistakes since so many words can be either plural or possessive. Still…it’s not that hard to figure out if the noun is more than one thing or owning something. Or a contraction with “is,” as in the sentence, “Dad’s a golfer.”

But because I’ve been feeling particularly peevish, here’s one I just looked up because I recently heard it again. I keep hearing “wary,” “leery,” and “weary” interchangeably and wanted to make sure I’m using the first two correctly because I wasn’t sure I knew the difference. Turns out that’s because there really isn’t one. The two are considered synonyms for being cautious or careful. So you can be wary OR leery of the salesman when he’s a little shady and you don’t trust him. As a side note, though, I’ve always used “leery” when the meaning expresses a little more suspicion and “wary” when it expresses more caution. So I’m leery when I think he might be dishonest, but I’m wary of salespeople in general. Maybe it’s just me. Feel free to tell me if you think so.

“Weary” probably became a victim in all of this simply by virtue of sounding like a combination of “wary” and “leery.” “Weary,” of course, means tired—so you’d only be weary of the salesman when he’s stayed at your kitchen table for hours and hours, though he could still be perfectly trustworthy.

But the other day when I had been standing at a nursery in almost 100° heat listening to a man who worked for a landscaping company talk endlessly about the need to be weary of certain landscapers, he might have been using the word correctly, after all.

What are your grammatical peeves?

From The Office: Michael’s having a hard time with the gender part of Spanish. So I told him to mark everything with the international symbol for gender and, um, I should have been more specific. [to Michael] Your office is full of genitalia. ~Oscar


  1. Love your "Feeling Weally Larry" — you are great at that sort of thing.
    My biggest pet peeve today (not "to date" but just today) is people who mess up me, myself and I.
    Just today, I saw a lovely young woman I have been admiring on TV for several weeks come up with one of those bloopers. "They did it for Brian and I." Makes me want to ask, "They did it for Brian. And what did you do?"
    It's so simple. Would you say "they did it for I"? No, you would not. "They did it for me" is correct. So, if they did it for both of you, "They did it for Brian and me." Easy, right?
    "They gave it to myself." Oh no, they didn't. They couldn't. You could keep it for yourself, but you must say, "They gave it to me."
    I did it myself. I did it for myself, perhaps, or even, at a stretch, I did it just for me and for nobody else" but that's getting into dangerous grammatical usage there.
    Keep it simple. Think about it. "They invited myself" is incorrect. "I invited myself" is grammatically correct, but perhaps a little tacky.
    Keep it simple. "He built it for me. I baked it for him. We ate it ourselves on the table he built."
    Easy, right?
    Well, obviously not.
    Note to self: do not take Tammy at her word when she asks me about my grammatical peeves. Pretend, for Tammy's sake, I'm not peevish atallatall.

  2. The me-I gets me, especially when TV news people use it incorrectly. Love that quote at the bottom. Made me laugh out loud.

  3. When people say, "I could care less." What they really should say is, "I couldn't care less."

    But I guess that's not really a grammatical mistake.

    How about people who overuse ellipsis? That gets aggravating.

  4. Missoura. I hate it when they say Missoura.

  5. What about - I don't got no (fill in the blank).

  6. I've been hearing more people lately pronounce "vs." as "verse" rather than "versus". Are they wrong or did I fail to get the memo?

    Critter Alley


Any return "messages" are appreciated!