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November 11, 2005


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David Cowan

I actually drafted an eerily similar post, but I was too embarrased to publish it! But now you have given me courage...


Good God, man, why do you even read my blog? I like to think I'm relatively OK in this area but as I read this, I realized I jack up the "fewer/less" ALL THE TIME. I shudder to think of everything else I'm screwing up. But what do I really know? I was graduated from a school in Kentucky, for the love of dangling participles.

alice, uptown

I think we went to the same prep school -- the one named for the public educator who didn't believe in elitist private schools.

My mother corrected my grammar at every opportunity. Fewer/less; can/may; lay/lie....I used to be an editor, and having auto-grammar check installed at the factory of my birth served me well. Now I wince at many, many sentences I hear even from people who are presumably educated.


I am also a prep school graduate, a latin geek, and a grammarian of bizarre proportions. I actually correct signage when I see a grammatical error.

Now I'm the parent of a prep school son that attends a very elite prep school, takes latin, and corrects all his school peers because he can't stand bad grammar. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Beware!


I was part of the generation of kids that was not taught grammar because it supposedly inhibited our creativity. I never learned what a subjunctive or participle was (and I'm still not totally clear, mind you) till 10th grade Spanish. My 10th grade English teacher tried to teach us the absolute necessities (their, they're, there anyone?), but I'm still basically ignorant of "the rules". I even read Strunk and White, but it was like reading a math book to me. So here I am, an English lit major with no grammar skills whatsoever, excepting what is intuitively learned from reading like mad throughout my life.

I do think grammar obsessed folks are just a bit neurotic, but I also am just a bit jealous of you too. And, not to mention, you folks also make me feel totally self-conscious and insecure. But at least no one's spitting on my food - not for that reason at least.


oshoot i still don't get what's wrong with using 'less'


I'm going to differ with your bring/take. If the idea is that you will be seated, and the person will deliver your drink to you, out there at your table, I think "bring" is the right word choice, because the focus is on you (rather than on the anonymous Ganymede). Garner backs me up on this; Burchfield abstaining.

But otherwise I totally agree with you, although I think I get distressed less often than you do. Working as an editor now means I'm less inclined to work for people who aren't paying me: I've become much more lax in my off time than I ever thought I'd be. It might be helpful to you to think that way, too: people should pay to get your expert insights on their grammar. And if they aren't paying you, then try to ignore it. Less eye-gougingly painful that way.


You know, I was thinking that the next time we came to NYC, I'd shoot you an email to see if you wanted to have coffee (especially now that I know you're seeing other bloggers).

But now, you have given me pause.

My husband is one of the great nerds of all time. He gives me grammar corrections on my blog. I'm not sure I need the two of you to ever meet.

BTW, the love child of Strunk, White & Fu Man Chu? Fucking brilliant.


I confess to frequently re-editing my posts. My grammar is going the same way as my brain cells and sperm count.


Anne...you know I love you but are you TRYING to give me a brain aneurysm? Just kidding. I've always thought that rule with bring/take was that when you are viewing the movement of something from the point of arrival, one must use "bring." And when viewing from the point of departure, you use "take." Is that wrong? Please help me before I twitch to death!

LM...want to know something scary? BossLady is ALMOST as bad as I am. So tell your husband that he's safe with us.


Actually, it should be "Two Weeks' Notice." But you knew that, didn't you?

I popped by your blog because it was reviewed in the newspaper this morning. I may have to make this a regular habit.

Julie C.

I heard about your blog via the paper today too. An Asian-American New York daddy being compared to David Sedaris and David Cross? This I had to see for myself. This is your first post I've read and I'm hooked. I can't wait to read all the rest of your entries!


Dude, I must be stupid. I don't even understand half your post. I think I need to go back to school. Do ya think they let 30 year olds start over in 8th grade?


You know that we're all terrified to leave comments now, right?


Erin...I'm banging my head on the table right now! BossLady noticed this mistake too. I'm too stupid to live!

Brent...umm, no. That would be weird.

Holly...please don't be terrified. It's MY problem. I've got to live with it.


YES! It should be "Two Weeks' Notice" not "Two Week's Notice."

I have to admit that I'm also a bit of a grammar/spelling/punctuation snob. In fact, when MD and I started dating, I knew that he was "The One" when we both sighed in frustration when we read a sign that read, "Affective Immediately."

Our poor child!


show me that article! damn, metro, you're on the brink of your new career. and even though i have about 4 copies of those geeze bags' strunk&white manifesto, please don't grade my papers too harshly (that gets an -ly, right?).

i love reading you because it reminds me that i'm too dumb and uncosmopolitan to kick it with smarties like you.


Good Lord, man. How in the hell do you read Speckblog without breaking into hives and throwing yourself off a building?

I used to be that kind of stickler for grammar and punctuation, etc., but I have given it up in favor of blog writing, which requires (in my opinion) a more immediate sense of speech. That often requires invented words and qualifying noises.


Still, a their/there/they're mixup, or a your/you're or a its/its can still raise a hive or two.

Seriously, how the hell do you ready my incorectly-heavily-comma-laden text without exploding??

Queen of Ass

Remind me to never EVER go out to dinner with you. I work hard to have my food spit-free.

Bitter Waitress

Just wanted to chime in and say that, as a worker in food services, it's true. My co-workers and I have been known to loogie into a cappucino every once in awhile. Be nice to your waitress!

Great post, MD!


Wow, you're even more of a stickler than I am and I'm supposed to teach this stuff. =D
I'm really obsessed with correct spelling, though.


Oh! I forgot to add this comment before I hit "post." Have you read Lynn Truss' book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves? If you haven't, I highly recommend it. This isn't a book I can recommend to too many people, but I'm pretty sure you'll get a kick out of it.


I was in my pediatrician's office earlier this week and "suggested" that they change the sign describing the "affects" of the flu vaccine immediately.


I'm at least as bad as you.

Go back to my archives. One of the first posts I wrote ("I Am An Apostrophe Pedant" from July 2004) will give you an idea of just how anal I can be.

Nobody knows the bad grammar I've seen...


Have you seen this site?



If I may add a typographical obsession to your grammatical ones: contrary to every typing teacher, you should only place one space between sentences.

Two spaces makes you look like a peasant.

Penny Pressed

On a particularly long car trip with my kids, they were playing that "jinx" game--if you get jinxed you can't talk until someone says your name; otherwise you owe someone a 'pop.' My children had jinxed me and tried everything they could to get me to speak, while I enjoyed remaining silent. Finally, my daughter says, "She ain't gonna talk."
"FRIDAY!" I said
"I knew bad grammar would get you, Mom."

What can I say? I share your pain, my friend. The English language is a bitch.

Uhhh, no. I wrote about this very topic in August concerning my husband's grammar. What is even more sad is that I wrote it in frustration and reread it today. Oh yeah--I found a couple of punctuation mistakes! Gah!


I also worked in the food service industry for many years. I never did anything to anyone's food, but I know people who did. As a result, I am waaay to kind when I am eating out in a restaurant. I overtip as well.


very curious about this news article... please let us know where you're featured.

md/bosslady, please be kind to the peanut as she gets older, my mother still corrects my grammar in front of friends at age 28 (less vs. fewer, "i" as an object, etc.). i get it... i choose not to learn.


I can totally relate to your grammar and punctuation obsession, having an English degree and being anal about writing. My ex-boyfriend actually hesitated when writing me cards and love letters because he knew I would point out all the errors (ie: you're instead of your).

My favorite bad English-ism is from "The Simpsons" when Principal Skinner tells Ralph Wiggum he's failing English. Ralph's reply? "Me fail English? That's unpossible."

I also highly recommend "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." Awesome book.


I've got one for you, MD! My sweet husband will ask our baby over and over, "Where's Elmo At?" Now I'm not nearly as anal as you. Hell, I don't even remember what a participle is, but I'm a stickler for the obvious ones. It's all I can do not to throw something at him and yell, "It's 'Where's Elmo?', you idiot!" I do not feel it is right to correct an adult, so I hold my tongue. I don't think I could take it if my husband spit in my food.


You are not the only one Metrodad. I am the same way. On my blog, with my college students, at work; everywhere. Grammar has to be used properly.


Okay, but do you correct the grammar and spelling of the comments left on your blog?

(I might have done this a few times.)


Grammar nerds of the world, unite! I'm with you, MD. I drive my wife crazy with my obsession for proper grammar. I can't even begin to tell you how many fights we've had about it. I just can't help myself.


I agree with you completely - one of the only things in my life that I am truly anal about is grammar. I read some of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but it isn't so interesting when your verdict on every page is, "But I knew that already!" I think I inherited it from my mother, who is exactly the same.

You do realise, though, that it is a dangerous thing to out yourself as a Full-On Grammar Nazi - if you ever use incorrect grammar after that, there is always a spate of people waiting with scathing comment. The grammar Nazis are everywhere.

Though, I do have a confession - my spoken grammar is often completely horrendous and I blame it on the place where I live. For example, instead of using "You" in it's plural sense when adressing a group of people, it is common here to say "Yous", as in, "Are yous coming?" I use that one a lot. I know. You're cringing in shame now, aren't you? At least I didn't spell it "You's".

PS. I'm terrified of posting this because of the mental image I have of you grimacing at any incorrect grammar I may have used. And this run on sentence. Also the use of "And" at the beginning of a sentence.


i fear for the peanut's future. at her first word, you and bosslady will be like, "oh that's cure, but no that's not correct, peanut darling. it's not 'no wanna', it's 'i don't want any."


Can you tell me why it would be "Two Week's Notice" and not "Two Weeks' Notice"? Since there is more than one "week", shouldn't the plural possessive be used?

Don't beat me too hard. My parents were poor and I went to a rural public school.

I did, however, major in English Literature in college. At a State U.


You are not alone! We are out here lurking in the shadows and ready to pounce at the slightest misuse of the English language!

Anne Glamore

Ok - in addition to our voracious love of the New Yorker, we've also got the grammar thing going. I'm TOTALLY with you on the LESS/FEWER thing.

The advantage that i have over you is that my kids are old enough that i can regularly quiz then on its/it's--there/their/they're and too/to/two.

It's so satisfying!

And don't go ordering any "Entree's." It's better to stay hungry.

MD, I like you and I truly enjoy reading your blog, but honestly, BOO FREAKING HOO. Let me boil your post down to its essence: "Oh, my mother, who speaks six languages, really beat the grammar thing into me, and my super elite and no doubt super expensive private school did too, and of course good grammar is expected at high quality universities, I just can't help myself from being a pompous ass! Oh Internet, are there any pompous asses out there who can help stroke my ego and tell me its ok to be an ass?"
C'mon, MD, we know you're smart, we know you've had a pretty sweet life, but don't rub it in with such a self-aggrandizing post.
I'm a smart, well-educated individual too, but the semi-disguised bragging that occurs in your post is one of my biggest pet peeves. My motto is: if you're smart, show it (i.e. by using your brains to make a difference in the world). Don't tell it.
Regardless, I still think you're great.


God Damn, "Anonymous at 2:08 pm"!!!

I just read my post again and you are absolutely right. I AM a pompous ass!

I think the problem is that, usually, my foodtaster strokes my ego but I gave him the night off yesterday so he and the chauffeur could go bowling with the maid. So I needed to find validation elsewhere.

Actually, in all seriousness, I think you have a semi-valid point. Semi. But really, I was just farting out the side of my brain over a cocktail at around midnight when I was writing this post. It was hardly meant to be self-aggrandizing (I fucking LOVE that word!)

And if you knew me in real life or went through all my posts, I think you'd find I'm fairly self-deprecating and modest. But you're right. There are many things I could do to try and make a difference in the world. And I do try. Trust me. But, for me, THOSE are the things that are private. My pomposity, on the other hand, is generally public knowledge. So basically, I'm not apologizing for squat...but I see where you're coming from. That's what this give-and-take thing is all about.

And hey, man. No need to comment anonymously. If you're going to bag on me, do it straight up. I can take it.

Anyway, to quote my man Ari Gold, "let's hug the shit out, bitch!"

the weirdgirl

I admit, I am completely lax on my own blog. I used to get really irate at bad grammar, but not so much anymore. Working in marketing where people freely fuck with the rules of grammar or having to edit according to in-house style guides that are often just plain wrong, beat down my grammar and punctuation sensibilities. I'm not giving up on the Oxford comma, though.


Is there anything more enjoyable than correcting your children's grammar? It's almost the same joy I get when I yell at my son to finish his vegetables!

Oh god! I've turned into my mother, haven't I?


That's it. I'm shutting down my blog.

LT (formerly anon 2:08)

Alright, I concede a bit. You had a good point about keeping your "do-gooder" stuff private. If you also publicized that I guess I could find that self-aggrandizing as well, in a bragging about what a wonderful guy you are kind-of-way (which, you are, no doubt. Lucky Peanut!). I've been running into a lot of pompous asses lately and I think I overreacted to your post thanks to the lovely (albeit cowardly) anonymity of the Internet. So yeah, I apologize for the pompous ass bit, because you are indeed generally self-deprecating, which I should've taken into account considering I have probably read 98% of your posts. So please accept my humblest give-and-take apology.

Linda B

No man, I totally care about the crimes against grammar. However, I have to admit (sadly) that I am sometimes guilty of them myself. So much for the degree in English Lit.


Actually, my major pet peeve is when people malign correct grammar ON PURPOSE! Like it's supposed to lend them some sort of street credibility. "I be talking like dat beeyotch Brtiney Spears yo. She be keeping it reals you knows?"

Like Chris Rock says, "They're keeping it real, alright. REAL stupid."


OK, I have to chime in on the bring/take issue. I think you were both incorrect - he should have said he would have someone "take it over to you" since he will not be present at the chili's destination. Whereas you would be glad someone was going to "bring" it to you, since the item in question is moving towards you. Check this out: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jlawler/aue/bring.html

Girl's Gone Child

Well then don't even bother reading my blog. I seldom read over my posts. I do spell check though, once in a while.

I have been lucky enough to work with a hawk-eyed editor and have become COMPLETLEY dependent on his ass. Perhaps I should send him my blogs before I post them?

Otherwise, read with your eyes closed, my man.


Wow MD....yer in da paper?! You's like famous and shit.

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