This is Marianne’s pal Dena, filling in once more whilst Marianne lays low and recovers from the miserable stomach bug that has sapped her of all will to blogge. That was I last night as well, of course, and yes, I totally just checked to see whether “I” or “me” was the correct pronoun to use at the beginning of this sentence. That’s because I care, goddamnit.

Having dispensed with the niceties, I shall now commence to be cranky. Those who know me well are well aware that I have a long list of pet peeves. It’s a tough balance to strike, because I don’t want to be a party pooper, but I happen to believe that some things matter. In the words of the venerable Judge Judy, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.  And don’t write “you’re” when you mean to write “your,” because I just might pop a gasket. You don’t want that on you’re conscience, do you? The list below is entirely subjective in that some of these errors may not necessarily be all that common or that important, but they simply irk me, Dena. Hence, I kvetch.

  1.  “Uninterested” Versus “Disinterested”: I am launching my list of complaints with this one specifically because it is a perfect example of a common error that is now considered marginally accepted usage simply because “everyone does it.” The fact is that “disinterested” means “unbiased” and “uninterested” means what most people think “disinterested” means, but when I see “real” writers like Luis Alberto Urrea making that mistake (Into the Beautiful North, page 192), I think perhaps I should work on finding the strength to let this one go. Grammar Girl and a few other sticklers of my cranky ilk have begged to differ, though, so for now I shall keep fighting the good fight.
  2.  “You’re” Versus “Your”: I’m not going to spend an undue amount of time on this one, because it’s really very simple. One of these two words is a contraction, meaning it combines two words to make one. That’s what the apostrophe is there for, stupid (See what I did there?). I would love to say your never going to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism if you don’t learn to distinguish between these two words properly, but the way things have been going downhill lately, you’re teachers will be grateful if you don’t write “ur.” Durrrrrr.
  3. Opening a Can of Whoopass Versus Whupping Ass: The distinction between these two spellings is entirely contentious and I have no rational support for my opinion. We were whupping asses many years before the first can of whoopass was opened, so it would seem “a can of “whupass” should be correct. Yet in this case my heart argues against all logic and reason to insist that if it occupies a can, then it must be whoopass.
  4.  “Loose” Versus “Lose”: Oh Christ on a crutch, do I really have to explain the difference between these two words? Because, if I do, I may loose my mind. This is one of those mistakes that often happen because people simply are not paying close attention to what they are writing.  They think it really doesn’t matter whether they use the “correct” word or not, because it’s all good, man. Well, it’s NOT all good, so wake up and smell the coffee before I get any more steamed than I am.
  5. Forgetting Words: We all leave out the occasional word now and then, even expert communicators such as your humble scribe. But lately I seem to be finding missed words everywhere, particularly when the word in question is “not.” I’m not sure what type of psychological ambivalence you all are struggling with these days, but sometimes one word can make all the difference. If you write “I am going to put on a suit of Limburger cheese and parade up and down the town square,” I will take you at your word and show up with a camera and some crackers before I presume to believe you forgot a word so essential to your meaning as that “not.” So just try harder, and I will too. Or else.
  6.  “Then” Versus “Than”: The distinction between these two words used to be simple, but lately I have seen more cases then I can count in which “than” is not allowed to do its proper job. The simplest way to keep track of which word you should use is that if you are making a comparison of any kind, you should use the word that is better than the other one. If you can’t remember which that is, well, then, I just give up.
  7.  “Phase” Versus “Faze”: I think people tend to use “phase” for both meanings simply because they have seen that word many times and just assume the homonym is spelled the same way. Wrong, slackers. I don’t care if you have never seen the word “faze” in your life, just get it right. I don’t even know you, so why do you want to hurt me so?
  8. Possessives Versus Plurals: In general, possessives need apostrophes. Plurals do not, which is why you don’t write things like, “I have twelve goat’s.” If you have trouble remembering this one, just picture the possessives grabbing all the apostrophes. The plurals don’t need the apostrophes, because the twelve goats have already formed a collective. And no, I don’t care at all if that made any sense.
  9. “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” Versus “You’ve Got Another Think Coming”: I grew up understanding proper usage of the latter was to pair one “think” with another, as in, “If you think you are going to spend all the money I gave you to buy Christmas gifts for your grandparents on T. Rex albums, you’ve got another think coming.” Never in a bazillion years did it ever occur to me that anyone would substitute “thing,” in that context, not even Judas Priest. Oh lord, why must we live in a world bankrupt of all meaning?
  10.  “Concerning” Versus “Disturbing,” “Troublesome,” “Distressing,” or Any Number of More Appropriate Choices: I mostly listed these in no particular order, but I saved this one for last because it represents pure evil and is swiftly becoming an epidemic. So enormously does this egregious and extremely lazy misuse of our language disturb me that I recently stopped reading a Vice article online when the first paragraph described the story as “convoluted and concerning.” My thought concerning this degree of sloppy, lazy word use is that I can probably forgive it in casual written conversation, but that I expect someone who presumably has a degree in either English or Journalism to have at least as decent command of these distinctions as I do (I have neither).
 I feel much better having gotten these things off my chest, and perhaps your listening may even have spared my spouse a rant or two. I know I’m not beyond reproach, which is why I am constantly editing myself and agonizing over word choice. I may even care too much about the niceties of written expression, so perhaps it helps to balance things out that some people seem to care so little. Perhaps we are all fated to slide down the slippery slopes of verbal debauchery regardless of my efforts, but if you think I’m going to succumb to sheer senselessness without a fight, you’ve got another think coming. Bitch.