There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, March 2, 2012

Five for Friday: Grammar Pet Peeves, Part 2

On September 16 I wrote a post about five common grammar mistakes and how to avoid making them. Since there are many more commonly-made grammar mistakes, here’s a follow-up post with five more grammar peeves:
{1. Passed vs. Past}
Passed is a verb. It’s the past* participle of pass
Examples
• She passed a note to her best friend.
• 2011 passed even faster than 2010.
Past refers to location in time or space. It can be an adjective, noun, or adverb.
Examples
• The danger is now past. (adjective)
• The famous writer had trouble making ends meet in the past. (noun)
• The shark swam slowly past. (adverb)
*In the above explanation of passed, past participle is used. Past used this way is an adjective; it describes the type of participle.
{2. Hone vs. Home}
Hone means to make sharper or more focused. Example: Stephen King is adamant that reading and writing hones a writer’s skills.
The verb home means to move toward a goal or to be guided to a target. Example: Many aspiring writers home in on author blogs for tips and advice.
{3. A while vs. Awhile}
A while is a noun referring to time. The article A before while is a sign that you're dealing with a noun. 
Example: It's been a while since I went to the movie theater. (Notice here that you could replace a while with another article-noun combination such as a year.)
Awhile is an adverb that means for a time. Example: Go play awhile. (Notice here that you could replace awhile with another adverb such as quietly.)
{4. That vs. Which}
Use that when setting off something restrictive (essential to the meaning of the sentence), which is something you wouldn’t put in parentheses.
Example:
The Nile is the river that gives Egypt Life. (The phrase that gives Egypt life is essential to understanding the sentence.)
Use which to set off something nonrestrictive, or parenthetical (nonessential to the sentence’s meaning).
Example:
The Nile, which flows into the Mediterranean, gives Egypt life. (The parenthetical phrase which flows into the Mediterranean is not essential to the sentence; it’s extra information.)
{5. Italics vs. Quotations vs. Underlining}
Italics is used for emphasis and distinction and also for foreign words not yet assimilated into your country’s language. In handwritten or typed texts, underlining has the same meaning as italics. The following list are things that should be italicized (or underlined if you’re writing longhand; if you’re typing, choose either italics or underlining but not both at the same time): 
• legal citations
• letters of the alphabet when referring to them as letters
• scientific names
• titles of books*, plays, long poems, newspapers, and magazines
• titles of movies and radio and television series 
• names of operas and long musical compositions
• names of paintings and sculptures
• names of famous speeches (Example: Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech)
• titles of pamphlets
• names of transportation vessels (Example: the Titanic)
*Sacred books, such as the Bible or the Koran, are not italicized; those titles are written in regular type.
Quotations are most commonly used to represent exact language, spoken or written, that has come from somebody else (dialogue or a direct quote). 
Quotations are also used to set off titles for short works such as: 
• book chapters
• short stories/flash fiction stories 
• magazine and newspaper articles
• short poems
• TV episodes
Quotations are also used to indicate irony or disdain, called scare quotes or sneer quotes. Example: Politicians “care” more about the people than themselves. 
One of my favorite blogs is The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. It features pictures of misused quotation marks on things like store signs and flyers. Check it out, laugh at the silly errors, and avoid making the same mistakes!
What are your grammar pet peeves?
Have a happy weekend, Zigzaggers!

29 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Thankfully, these aren't grammar points I have issues with, but I have in the past. Great reminder, Laura!

SA Larsenッ said...

Great grammar highlights. It's always good to have reminders. I've got most of those under control. But for some reason, awhile/ a while gets me. Go figure.

Happy weekend!!

Emily Murphy said...

Steve claims that it's an Eastern PA thing to use "awhile" in the sense of "Go play awhile". He always says "awhile what??"! Apparently some parts of the country (at least Pittsburgh) does not speak that way!

And now I probably just misued a bunch of quotation marks. :)

-Emy

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I had to look up the difference between a while and awhile. The resource I read said awhile was for a shorter period of time than a while. But it also said the same thing you did. Thanks for the reminder. :)

I still get passed and past mixed up when I type. They come out as whatever and I have to go back and fix them. Fortunately I know they're wrong.

Thanks, Laura, for the reminders. :D

Creepy Query Girl said...

Oh yes. I've had issues with a lot of these at one point or another. Especially past/passed.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I mess up a while and awhile. Ugh.

I had an editor once who had a BIG pet peeve with quotation marks. She hated it when people used it to emphasize a word or phrase. (Something I also do--er, did) LOL

Journaling Woman said...

I'm sure I do some of these. Thanks for the reminder.

Have a great weekend.

T

Matthew MacNish said...

Great reminders. Thanks, Laura!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Oh gosh, home and hone drive me nuts. And for some reason, people around me always misuse them...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh, I am so guilty of some of those. I never even use 'awhile' now because I knew I used it wrong. Can I include a link to this in my next post?

Amanda Olivieri said...

I love this! I can always use a grammar refresher. That vs. Which is the one I really needed a reminder on :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Wonderful grammar lesson, Laura. We can always do with a refresher course.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

My Pettest Peeve is the "That/which" misuse. People use which because they think it sounds classier than "that." The rule I learned that helps me is, if you need to offset the phrase with a comma, then you use which. Otherwise, it's THAT!

The story, which was 500 pages long, took me three weeks to read.

The story that Mary gave me was 500 pages.

And my biggest WORD pet peeve is when people say supposably, which isn't actually a word!!

Jolene Perry said...

Well, you just saw my post on this, lol.

good ones

Laura Marcella said...

Laura- I don't either! I see them misused all the time, though.

Sheri- Sometimes a while/awhile can be tricky!

Emy- Hahaha, Steve and the way he speaks! Isn't funny you can be from the same state and still have such different word usage? Btw, I misuse quotations in my comments all the time because I don't know how to make italics. It think it's a typed code or something.

Stina- I haven't heard that explanation before. Maybe it's being phased in? Word meanings and usage change over time.

Katie- Past/passed used to be tricky when I was younger but I've got it down now!

Jennifer- I had a teacher who was bugged by that too!

Teresa- You're welcome! Hope you're staying safe and well from the crazy weather near you.

Matthew- You're welcome and thanks for stopping by!

Elizabeth- You're more attuned to that misuse since it drives you nuts!

Diane- Yes, absolutely! Thank you. :)

Amanda- Hello and welcome to Wavy Lines! That and which can be tricky sometimes. Thanks for stopping by and commenting and I appreciate the follow!

Rachna- Thank you! It's easy to forget some of these when we've been out of school for so long!

Melissa- Yup, the comma reason is an easy explanation for people to remember! I like to know the real reasons behind why something is correct, too. And I totally hear you about "supposably"! People who use that word mean "supposedly" but when one person uses an incorrect word others will follow, unfortunately.

Jolene- Yup, I remember your pet peeves! We share a lot of the same ones, LoL.

Laurel Garver said...

I can't say I've seen the hone/home misuse much, but appreciate seeing your explanation.

The that/which distinction is an American one, BTW. I edit tons of stuff from the UK (and some from other Anglophone countries including Oz, Canada, Singapore) and they use "which" for both kinds of clauses. It is incredibly tedious to have to edit this to the American standard, so I'd have to say it's my most peevish of pet peeves at the moment! :-)

Misuse of apostrophes is a giant peeve, too.

Tara Tyler said...

thanks! had to pint it for reference! past v passed bugs the crap out of me!

DL Hammons said...

Violations in three out of the four categories. Bad DL! :(

Laura Marcella said...

Laurel- That's really interesting! I can't say I'm surprised, though. The English language has some of the weirdest and unnecessary grammar rules and word usage compared to other languages.

Tara- You're welcome! I'm glad this could help you!

DL- LoL, I'm sure you're not the only one!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've used italics for my character's telepathic communications (and my publisher was good with that) so hope that's a permissible.

Naina Gupta said...

Great post, I always got confused with that/which so thank you for teaching me something today.

My pet peeve is how people throw the word 'random' about when they can't think of another word

Laura Marcella said...

Alex- I see italics like that often in books! I think italics used in creative writing is a style choice and there aren't any wrong or right rules for that. None that I know of anyway!

Naina- I use random all the time! Now every time I do I'll be thinking, "Whoops, this would annoy Naina." LoL!

Jemi Fraser said...

Passed and past drives me nuts when I see them misused! Same when I see 'that' used for people when it should be 'who'!

Laura Marcella said...

Jemi- I see passed/past misused all the time! It's a tricky for many people. I guess it's not explained too clearly in school?? And yes, I hear you with 'that' when it's supposed to be 'who'!

Shelley Sly said...

I'm right there with you. Especially the passed and past one. The hone and home one is tricky because so many people mistakenly say "hone in", when there is no "in" after hone. It's like they're combining the two, which is confusing. Anyway, great resource, thanks!

Naomi Ruth said...

Oh dude. I never knew the difference between awhile and a while. Thank you kindly. I hate making mistakes and now I won't have to make another one. Huzzah!

Lisa Shafer said...

I cannot stand the popular -- and incorrect -- slang phrase "looks to," which is used in place of "hopes to" or even "seems to." Ugh. I loathe that.

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks - I needed the #4 reminder!

Laura Marcella said...

Shelley- I see those misused all the time. The letters M and N are so close in sound and in the alphabet that I can see why people would have trouble.

Naomi- I'm glad it helped! It would be a lot easier if there was just one. I don't see a reason for two awhile/a whiles!

Lisa- Hello and welcome to Wavy Lines! I'm not sure I've heard that slang phrased used. I'll have to pay attention and listen for it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Kristin- Hello and welcome to Wavy Lines! You're very welcome. I'm glad it helped! Thanks for stopping by and commenting and I appreciate the follow!