I confess to loving English grammar, but I try to behave and refrain from pointing out grammatical errors, except on rare occasions when I think the recipients would be thrilled to know that they are and have been slipping up. And I make plenty of my own mistakes, so I really don’t have time to correct anyone else. Except once in a while. Like right now. So here are the top few offenders that come across my radar regularly.
1. You do not feel badly. You feel bad. Feel is a linking verb, so it requires an adjective, not an adverb. If you really do feel badly, then that means your nerve endings are not in peak form. Just feel bad. Please. Don’t feel badly.
2. Apostrophes are seldom used correctly. If you are a Smith, and you are sending out your Christmas cards, please do not sign the card from the Smith’s. Oh dear. How many Smiths do you have? Are you the only one? Then just sign it from Susie Smith. If you are sending the card on behalf of the entire Smith family, you can either sign the card from the Smith Family or from the Smiths. Period. The apostrophe indicates possession. If you are inviting your friends to the Smith home for a Christmas party, then say it is at the Smiths’ home or at the Smith home. Since you have more than one Smith, it is fine to add an s to indicate the plural. And if you are referring to your home, then put the apostrophe after the s so that we understand there is more than one Smith at the house. Please don’t say, “Come to the Smith’s.” It would be weird to refer to one Smith as the Smith, don’t you agree? If your last name already ends in an s (like Abrams) then first you must make it plural (Abramses) and then you can add an apostrophe: Please come to the Abramses’ home, etc. Because that looks (and is) so burdensome, I would opt for simplifying: Please join us for Christmas cheer at our home. Then you can sign it Bill and Susie Abrams. Or, The Abrams family wishes you a very merry Christmas. There is more, but I must press on.
3. A particular problem in this part of the country is the use of at with where. Where are you at? Where is my wallet at? Just say, “Where are you?” “Where is my wallet?” The at is out of place, so knock it off.
4. Me and Susie are going to the mall. Oh horrible, horrible! Susie and I are going to the mall. Why? Because me is in the objective case, and the subject of the sentence requires nominative case. Okay? He gave the prize to Susie and me. Perfect! I love it!
5. Don’t loose your passport. Huh? Do you mean lose? Maybe just tie up the dog so he doesn’t get loose. Because if he gets loose, you may lose him.
6. I’m going to go lay down on the couch. Please just lie down, okay? Lay is a transitive verb, so you could lay yourself down on the couch. I know this is confusing, but here it goes: Today I will lie down; yesterday I lay down. Lay is the past tense of lie. It’s awful, I know, but it just can’t be helped. It’s much too late. To lie is to recline. To lay is to put. So lay the book on the table and tell the chicken to lay an egg. But don’t lay down. Lie down. Okay, so I’ll lay off.