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CCATP #576 – Dr. Maryanne Garry on Grammar Pet Peeves

This week we have returning guest, Dr. Maryanne Garry, from the University of Waikato but this time it will not be an intellectual, deep-learning experience about the mysteries of human memory. This time we’re going to talk about our grammar pet peeves. As Maryanne would say, we’re both quite pedantic on this topic. Sit back and enjoy our silliness, and please add your grammar pet peeves as comments on, in our Slack group at or in our Facebook group at

I bet you have your own grammar pet peeves, add them in the comments!

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Our somewhat cryptic notes for the show, some with actual references.

M – Apostrophe – general misuse

A – Apostrophe in possessive names, e.g. “Forbes’s blanket”. Used to be biblical and classical names didn’t have the ’s, as in “Jesus’ Disciples” but now it’s allowed. UNLESS that name ends in “eez” as in Sophocles’s where you put in the ’s but you don’t SAY it.

M – Myself used other than reflexively

A – Steve’s favorite: Me vs I as the object of prep. But why is it “smarter than me” but “smarter than I am”?

A – Further vs. farther. Farther is distance, further is metaphorical or figurative. Unless you say, “How fur do you want to run?” Then say FARTHER for distance

M – Which vs that (sit down BRITISH PEOPLE)…

A – Antennas vs antennae. Antennas when it’s electromagnetic energy, like a radio antenna. Bugs have antennae. Unless you’re in the UK.

M – Orientate
From M-W: Orientate is a synonym of “orient,” and it has attracted criticism as a consequence. “Orient,” which dates from the mid-18th century, is in fact the older of the two verbs – “orientate” joined the language in the mid-19th century. Both can mean “to cause to face toward the east” (and, not surprisingly, they are related to the noun Orient, meaning “the East”). Both also have broader meanings that relate to setting or determining direction or position, either literally or figuratively. Some critics dislike “orientate” because it is one syllable longer than “orient,” but you can decide for yourself how important that consideration is to you. Personal choice is the primary deciding factor, although “orientate” tends to be used more often in British English than it is in American English.

Noah Webster:…

A – Commentate and commentator. Why isn’t it just comment and commenter? What IS the difference?

M – Comma splices ← what’s that?

A – Adding an s where it doesn’t belong, as in “Nordstroms”. Again with Eric, he would add Ss unnecessarily and then remove them where they should be. He would write checks to Ralph.

M – Dangling modifiers…

Includes “only” in the wrong place. “I only ate a bit of chocolate” vs “I ate only a bit of chocolate”

A – Use of adjectives when it should be adverbs
Heard a newscaster say, “He walked fast.” The other newscaster referenced what he said but said it correctly, “He walked quickly”. But then I realized I always say, “Hold the camera steady.” In French company Creaceed’s manual for Hydra they said, “Hold the camera steadily.” I’ve been saying it wrong

M – Sentence fragments

A – “if I was” vs “If I were” – reference Joanne Fluke, author of such books as “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” in which the main character is a grammar buff and I thought she made a mistake. Subjunctive mood: “The subjunctive mood is a verb form that is used for unreal or hypothetical statements. It is made up of the phrases I were, he were, she were, it were, etc. You often use this form when you are being wishful.”

M – Fluffy adverbs: “I am sadly unable to attend….”

A – My friend Eric used to get mad when I’d correct his grammar so he’d purposely make it even worse by making up new mistakes. My favorite was “irregardlessly”.

M – Liz said impactful. Too much government work.

A – When grammar tools tell you you’re wrong, but you’re not! Apple’s built-in tools just tried to correct the title of Let’s Talk Apple to be Lets Talk Apple. Gave it as a suggestion with “consider changing to Lets”

M – Wink face

A – Heighth. It’s not a word, people!

M – Last one: Data are plural.

A – Dorothy suggested: Snuck vs sneaked, drug vs dragged, awoken vs awakened

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