A friend of mine challenged me the other day over my use of the word “less” when I really meant to say “fewer.” When I looked back it in stark black and white there was honestly no way I could defend my position, and I felt beyond embarrassed. For me, an English teacher, who knows all of the rules, to blatantly demolish one because I was tired when I wrote the phrase was an untenable position. I immediately deleted it and hoped no one else had seen the horror that was my grammatical faux pas. But we are all human. Here are some of the more egregious grammatical faux pas I have seen and heard:
- “I seen him and them.”
- “Look it.”
- “Your an idiot.”
- “You want me to come there?”
- “Get off it.”
- “Where you at?”
- “Your dumber then him.”
- “I wont do it.”
- “I thought I would loose my paper.”
- “Him and me went shopping.”
- “I could of caught him!”
- “My principle is Mr. Smith.”
- “He’s the dude that messed up.”
- “Witch word do I use?”
- “I could care less about getting good grades.”
How many of those can you fix without even thinking about it? Exactly. And yet there are so many people out there who make these mistakes, and they’re not even just the kids I teach. I’m not trying to sound like some grammatical elite or anything like it. I make mistakes just like anyone else (obviously), but when we have so many tools (spell check, grammar check, and other people who know the right way to say what you need to say) in this day and age, I say use them.
It’s ironic too that people question why they have to learn English in school, when it seems like the people who are native speakers of the language don’t understand it as thoroughly as ELL students of the language do. Perhaps that’s because we native speakers tend to take the language, and the grammatical structure that comes along with it, for granted. I try my best not to correct people’s grammar and usage, but sometimes the corrections just sit on the edge of my tongue, wanting to jump off, but for the most part I contain them.
For the most part I curb myself, but sometimes I just can’t help it. Like now.