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The good grammar geek done did real good…

nerdsMy grammar feelings have feelings too. This column is just a rant about my “Grammar Feelings.” I have an English Degree from the University of Texas, and I often hear things that grate on my every last nerve (even when I go back and read my own mindless writing).

Mistakes that I hate and demand cease in the online community at once:

*Bad: “I did good on that tour.”
*Good: “I did well on that tour.”
This is the most flagrant offense in the book- I command thee to use adverbs appropriately (bonus points for anyone who can point out the adverb in this sentence).

*Bad: “The sign was put on it’s side.”
*Good: “The sign was put on its side.”
*Bad: “Its obvious that I can’t.”
*Good: “It’s obvious that I can’t.”
When the apostrophe is present, it is used as a substitute for a letter, therefore “it’s” exclusively means “it is.”

*Bad: “I always loose my keys.”
*Good: “I always lose my keys.”
I LOVE reading this one- loose is reserved for a street walker or a big blouse.

*Bad: “I moved over their.”
*Good: “I moved over there.”
“There” refers to a location, “their” refers to something belonging to another group of people.

*Bad: “It’s you’re fault we are late.”
*Good: “It’s your fault we are late.”
This is a repetitive lesson- apostrophes are used as substitutes for letters, so “you’re” ALWAYS means “you are.”

*Bad: “I could of finished.”
*Good: “I could have finished.”
I blame this on the buck-toothed goons that have butchered the language. If you need an explanation on this, please go back to third grade, rinse and repeat.

I could go on forever! I was 15 when I corrected my then-stepmother when she said to my little brother “oh, you did so good on that!” I had never spoken back to my parents but I couldn’t take it any more- I said, “you mean ‘you did well on that.’” She was furious and I told her that I was embarrassed and did not want people to hear her and think that I come from an ignorant family. When she begged my father (who has the same grammar sensitivities) to intervene, he simply supported me by saying, “she’s right” (and that was the last time I mingled in family politics…).

New Rules & Regulations

The problem is that we are living in a virtual E-World with its own rules and regulations, all of which have become acceptable (see my UT transcript featuring a course on “Internet Ethics and the Online Evolution”- oh yeah, it’s really a class). So, Internet Users, I’ll agree to conform by typing “sup? I miss you guys ‘cuz u rock!,” as long as you all take a five minute grammar lesson, stop saying “I did good,” and STOP hurting my Grammar Feelings.

What lessons have *you* learned today?  What rules aren’t included that drive you batty?

Originally published on April 2007 and the rules have yet to change.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Jack Leblond

    May 13, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I’m sitting next to you on this bandwagon. I also hate when people use use contradictory words in the same sentence, like “I don’t have no”, which of course would mean they have it. Or “every last nerve”. I’m not sure on this one, since “every” would seem to imply multiple and “last” would seem to imply just one. ;-D

  2. Lani Rosales

    May 13, 2009 at 9:00 am

    In full disclosure, I gave many an English professor high blood pressure because of my crappy skills- it’s not like they teach grammar in college, we all took it in 8th grade and never again!

    At UT, Dr. Hinojosa would tear your paper in half in front of the class if you used the word “like.” He said, “nothing is LIKE anything, it either IS or it IS NOT.” Internally, I thought, you are like a jerk. lol

  3. Dan Green

    May 13, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Errant apostrophes. Grrr…

  4. Jim Duncan

    May 13, 2009 at 10:44 am

    But Lani, it’s just a blog! Who cares about the quality of the writing? 🙂

    Here’s how I put it – if you’re not going to take the time to proof read your copy for the blog, what assurances are there (for the world to see in perpetuity) that you’ll do better when writing the offer?

    I share your feelings … my mother was an English teacher, I was an English major in college and was an editorial editor for our newspaper. Words – and how the sentences are constructed – matter.

  5. Bridget Magnus

    May 13, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Heh, Realtors and grammar/spelling. Let’s not get started.

    My pet peeve is s and ‘s. This isn’t hard, yet I’ve seen teachers mess it up! If a resume crosses my desk and gets this one wrong, it’s directly into the “NO” pile.

  6. Kori Covrigaru

    May 13, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Their is some grate content hear in you’re post. Its obvious you no you’re grammar good.

    Seriously though, this kind of thing bugs me too. Great post. I got a good laugh.


  7. ines

    May 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I have to tell you that English as a second language always gets me with little things like “on” and “in” for example. Rick is constantly correcting me – but if you ever see me make a mistake, please tell me (DM me) whatever……my feelings will not be hurt.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    May 13, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Lani – I admit to often terrible grammar. The its vs. it’s one kills me, but recently I have been working really hard to correct it. I think I may have even mentioned it in one of my early post in “The Stigliano Chronicles.” My biggest problem is the use of commas. I overuse them and have been slayed for them throughout school. I write how I speak and sometimes I continue a thought into one giant run-on sentence. I’m aware of it and try to calm myself down when my finger reaches for the “,” key.

    I do get upset when I see to, too, and two misused for some reason.

    PS The answer is “appropriately.”

  9. Louise Scoggins

    May 13, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Lani, I had a good chuckle while reading your post! While I don’t have an English degree, it drives me crazy when people make the mistakes listed in your post (amongst others). My dad, a self-made millionaire and genius who read the world encyclopedias and studied the dictionary, was constantly reminding us (kids and mom) of what the proper grammar would be if we were to say something incorrectly. His teachings chime in the back of my head on an almost daily basis (it’s different FROM, not different THAN). Your post made me smile and think of my dad 🙂

    Matt — I feel your pain though…I, too, overuse commas, have long run-on sentences b/c I write how I speak, and use way too many exclamation points and “…” in my writing. Oh well what can you do!! You win some, you lose some…

  10. Megan Lust

    May 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Lani – This made me laugh when I read it. I think everyone at some point has committed at least one of the grammar faux pas you mentioned. (Guilty!) Some bother me more than others. I find in IM conversations I let all grammar rules go out the window. Probably a bad idea but I can’t help it.

    Matt – I actually love when I read something that makes me think: ‘He writes like people talk!’ and that’s how I write too. Does make for interesting reading IMO – as long as it’s for the right audience I guess.

  11. Brandie Young

    May 14, 2009 at 10:08 am

    First – Kori, that was funny!

    Next, Miss Lani – good nudge! I believe we’ve come to rely on spell and grammar check so much that if we don’t see a word underlined red or green (as when leaving a comment) we assume it’s correct. It’s important to remember that our writing leaves an impression. Have someone proofread!

    p.s. I tend to transpose “whether” and “weather” – and haven’t come up with a cute way to remind myself. Folks always laugh that I have the word “weather” on my whiteboard with a little sun next to it.

  12. Missy Caulk

    May 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Lani, I went to Catholic school for 6 years, the nuns hammered grammer into us. My kids just didn’t get as much growing up.

    My head out runs my fingers sometimes so I need to S L O W down…proof read.

    Feel free to correct.

  13. Sheila Rasak

    November 27, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Can I vs. may I…I don’t know, can you? Ability vs. permission. Nuff said. 😉

  14. Jim

    November 28, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Great post and comments! My biggest grammar pet peeve is the use of the word “impact” as a verb. “The foreclosure price will impact neighbors’ property values.” Well, actually it might affect them or have an impact on them, but can’t impact them. But, I fear I’ve lost this battle. Cheers!

  15. BawldGuy

    November 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    *Bad: “I could of finished.”
    *Good: “I could have finished.”

    I’m thinkin’ ‘coulda’ ain’t gonna pass the test. 🙂 Generally speaking, I write, using well English when it matters too folks.

  16. Mike O'Hara

    November 28, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I see people misusing “too” and “to”, often. People also need to stop saying, “irregardless”. Also, you are not “notorious” for doing something good. Remember it this way. OJ Simpson was a “famous” football player, now he is “notorious” for an alleged double murder.


    November 29, 2010 at 5:17 am

    I can’t believe your photo lani! those 2 guys are my friends darwin and bryan from my days at UC Berkeley. its amazing what pix pop up on the internet!

  18. James

    November 29, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I’m not good at grammars too. I try to follow the rules, but it’s hard when you have lived and used the wrong grammar all throughout so many years..

    Good read here!

    🙂 James

  19. SedonaKathy

    November 29, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Lani, love you, but we differ on this…like I differ with people who get incensed over someone saying WTF on twitter. They are only “words”.

    Go deeper. Appreciate that these people communicate. Some better than others.

    You rock…

  20. Qwerty

    June 2, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I can't stand when people use "I had did it" or "We done it". This includes family! I bite my tongue every time I hear my mother in law say these phrases. I worry that she will someday infect my kids with her poor grammar, though. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

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