The Grouchy Grammarian: A How-Not-To Guide to the 47 Most Common Mistakes in English Made by Journalists, Broadcasters, and Others Who Should Know Better
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Do you commit apostrophe atrocities?
Are you tormented by the lie/lay conundrum?
Do you find yourself stuck between floaters and danglers?
Do your subjects and your verbs refuse to agree?
If so, you're not alone. Some of the most prominent professionals in TV broadcasting and at major newspapers and magazines-people who really should know better-are guilty of making all-too-common grammatical errors. In this delightfully amusing, clever guide, Thomas Parrish points out real-life grammar gaffes from top-notch publications such as the New York Times and the New Yorker to illustrate just how widespread these errors are. With red pen in hand, Parrish's fictional friend the Grouchy Grammarian leads the charge, examining the forty-seven most common mistakes in English and imparting the basics of good grammar with a charming mixture of fussiness and common sense. All of which makes The Grouchy Grammarian the most entertaining, accessible how-not-to guide you'll ever read.
principle author of the worldwide bestseller Getting to Yes.” The writer means principal, which can be either an adjective (as it would be here) or a noun (high school principal, the principals in a business deal); principle (a doctrine, law, or code) is never anything but a noun. The reverse mistake appears in this AP story about an astronomer’s search for fellow creatures in the universe: “Although Drake found no evidence of extraterrestrial life, ongoing research elsewhere uses the principals
described the surprising wonders of a labor leader’s apartment. There was not only “rosewood galore,” there were “his and her’s bathrooms and his and her’s dressing rooms (each with three cedar closets).” A pure, classic example occurs in this sentence from an AP story: “Romandetti said that the remodeling was overdue for many restaurants and that the timing has more to do with [Denny’s] improved ﬁnancial situation than it’s image.” 70 I T ’ S A C O N T R A C T I O N — R E A L LY 71 Speaking
interviewer asked a participant: “Were you surprised at that close of a race?” Discussing the movement of a winter storm, a CNN weather forecaster assured viewers that “the snow shouldn’t be that big of a factor.” From a recent newspaper interview: “‘I’m not that highbrow of a person,’ Johnson said.” Sometimes, one fears, the reporter has put this usage into the mouth of a literate interviewee who actually didn’t employ it, but the poor interviewee has no defense when the newspaper has appeared
have said “accused of being a racist and a quitter and of having a drinking problem” or simply “accused of being a racist, a quitter and an alcoholic.” Moving into the bloody realm of conﬂict in Northern Ireland, we ﬁnd that on one particular day the police apparently prepared themselves for unusually violent confrontations, as described in an AP story: “The day’s tensions began in Ardoyne, a mostly Catholic district, where police wielding clubs, shields and attack dogs, drove back Protestants
7–8, 21–30 185 common pattern of, 124 compound object, 2, 91–92 compound subject, 32–33 conditional, 61–62 emphasis in, 125 missing necessary word in, 146–47 prepositions in, 82–86 subject, 124 word arrangement in, 14–15, 36–38, 123–25 word requirements of, 146 See also agreement, subject-verb series, false, 105–6 shrank/shrunk, 113 Silicon Valley/Silicone Valley, 144 singular each as, 35 none as, 111 possessive and, 64 words from classical languages and, 149–50 singular verb for compound