Monday, November 30, 2009

Grammar Detective, Jennifer Kerr

I see grammar mistakes in published work on a regular basis. More commonly, I see mistakes in things like church bulletins and hand written signs or emails from friends. In everyday conversation, I can constantly pick up ways in which people I talk to misuse English language. While I do notice mistakes, I try not to point out everyone’s mistakes, because I don’t want to be perceived as a “Grammar Nazi,” and I do believe that errors are understandable and generally don’t affect how understandable something is. However, there are certain common errors that drive me crazy, and I see them startlingly often.

One example of a common mistake that I find irritating is the misuse of the contraction “there’s”. In her Grammar Detective post, Jenny Neilson talked about a journalist who said “I hope there is some Albertans there.” She pointed out that “there is” is used incorrectly in this sentence. The verb “is” does not agree with the plural subject. It seems obvious to me, and yet this mistake is made constantly, especially when “there is” is made into the contraction “there’s.”

“There’s” is the shortened form of “there is” or “there has”. What is not short for is “There are,” and yet I constantly find instances where writers use “there’s” where “there are” is the correct phrase. As an experiment, I searched the Edmonton Journal website for the contraction “There’s.” I came up with several examples of headlines using “there’s” incorrectly. As another example, consider the title of the book pictured below. It is possible that this grammar mistake was intentional, but nonetheless, it irritates me.
Grammar errors are common and to be expected. In many cases, they are forgivable and can be attributed to keyboard mistakes or simply not feeling the need to be grammatically correct. However there are certain common mistakes that can become extremely annoying, and when they appear in published work, I feel that they are unforgivable.

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