Introduction to Grammar Guidelines

With texting, Facebook, and Twitter fast becoming main modes of communication, the new shorthand lingo that is developing will no doubt bring about a higher frequency of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. The rules that define proper English seem to fade into the distance as more people forget them and replace that knowledge with acronyms such as OMG and LOL. The hope for this site is to reinforce proper English grammar and continue to encourage eloquent writing and speech.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Is "themself" correct?

I hear many people these days on TV and radio using "themself." So why are they using it and what are they trying to communicate? Let's think about it logically. "Self" refers to one person. When you're using "them," you're talking about multiple people, not just one person. Some people are using the term "themself" as a way to get around unknown gender without having to say a mouthful like "himself or herself." However, "themself" is not correct.

For example, someone might say, "A person can find themself in a precarious situation very quickly."
The grammatically correct way to say this is, "A person can find himself or herself in a precarious situation very quickly."

Also, "hisself" is not correct. I have heard this one many times too. I think this is really just a result of lazy speech. Swallowing that "m" is somewhat easier. However, it is not a word.

Correct:
themselves
myself
himself
herself
yourself

Incorrect:
themself
theirself
hisself

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Plural Form of "Rendezvous"

What, you may ask, is the plural form of the word "Rendezvous?" It is actually the same as the singular form--no extra "s" or apostrophe necessary. The distinction is in the pronunciation. When using the singular form, you do not pronounce the "s" at the end; it is silent. To pluralize it, you simply pronounce the "s."

Singular: Rendezvous (rän-di-vü)
Plural: Rendezvous (rän-di-vüz)

Monday, June 21, 2010

A vs. An

Many people get confused about whether to use "a" or "an" before words such as "historic" or "hospital." The key to proper use is this... use "a" before words that begin with a consonant sound (e.g., a computer); use "an" before words that begin with a vowel sound (e.g., an anomaly). When the "h" is pronounced, such as with "historic," you use "a" (e.g., a historic day for the U.S.).

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Commas in a Series

The purpose of the comma is to aide readers in understanding what they are reading, and to help them understand it quickly. Today, I want to talk about the importance of commas in a series and the distinct role that they play in the meaning of a sentence. Many people now believe it to be correct grammar to leave out the comma just before the “and” in a series (ex: The trees, flowers and grass are lovely this time of year). While this may not seem to be a huge deal, a missing comma can certainly alter the meaning of a sentence (it also isn't as aesthetically-pleasing to read, but maybe that's just my OCD!).

Take the two sentences below, which have two totally different meanings due completely to the inclusion or exclusion of the comma before “and.” In the first sentence, “Jen and I” are addressing Jake directly and wishing him a happy birthday. In the second sentence “Jake, Jen, and I” are addressing an unnamed fourth person and wishing him/her a happy birthday.

“Jake, Jen and I want to wish you a happy birthday.”
“Jake, Jen, and I want to wish you happy birthday.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To Wander vs. To Wonder

Wander: go about from place to place aimlessly; talk or think incoherently (The Oxford Pocket American Dictionary of Current English. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2000: p. 919).

Example: She wandered the streets of New York with no particular destination in mind.


Wonder: desire or be curious to know; to be filled with wonder or great surprise (The Oxford Pocket American Dictionary of Current English. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2000: p. 937).

Example: I wonder who is responsible for the recent crimes committed downtown.