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I am writing this page in order to help stem the tide of improper English (or American). Those of you who cringe when you hear or see bad grammar will appreciate this site (I hope). Those who do not know can use this page as a lesson on good and bad English. Those of you who do not care about good grammar will wonder why I am ranting about such petty things. Since I am human, it is doubtful that I will have everything perfect in this page. There may be some typographical errors, or there may be some thing that I have wrong. If you see something wrong or want to argue about some point, e-mail me. My e-mail address is at the bottom of this page.

This page will not cover all aspects of the language. It will cover only things that bother me or things that I have noticed more and more in society and publications. What prompted me to write this page was a large banner that was placed on the wall at work. I work in the automotive industry, and I assume that whoever wanted the banner meant to display the types of vehicles with which we work. The sign read "... Pick-Up's / Van's / SUV's." They wanted to pluralize each type of vehicle, so they added 's to each one.

Lesson #1 - Plurals
To make a word plural, add s to it. Do not add 's to it. That makes the word possessive. A possessive needs an object to describe what it is possessing. The object can be implicit, but it is usually explicit.
Lesson #1A - Its and It's
It is important to note that adding 's to "it" does not make it possessive. "Its" is possessive and "it's" is a contraction for "it is."
Lesson #2 - You and I and You and Me
"You and I" are words that people have learned incorrectly. They seem to think that "you and I" is always correct and that "you and me" is not correct. Each one is right about half the time. I think "you and I" in the wrong place sounds worse than "you and me" in the wrong place. If you cannot remember when to use which one, then just use "we" or "us" instead. If you want to know which is correct, use "you and I" where you would use "we" and use "you and me" where you would use "us."
Lesson #3 - Acronyms and Abbreviations
Acronyms and abbreviations were invented in order to reduce the number of words that people use. Unfortunately, people today seem to think that they will sound better if they use more words, so they add words after acronyms, defeating their purpose.

Common Additions (brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department):
  • PIN number
  • VIN number
  • ATM machine
  • IRA account
Please refrain from adding to acronyms. Use either the acronym or its individual words, but not both.
Lesson #4 - Caring
The phrase "could not care less" is not understood by many people. Usually I hear it said as "could care less." I tend to tell people that if they could care less, then they have some amount of caring. If you cannot tell the difference, then use the phrase "could not care" instead.

On an unrelated note, I wonder how the phrase "head over heels" originated. Head over heels is the normal position of the human body. If your heels are over your head, then that would be the unusual state of things.
Lesson #5 - Then and Than
People often confuse then and than. I will be using capital letters for emphasis. "Then" is used to indicate sequences, and "than" is used for comparisions (thEn = sEquEncE, thAn = compArison).
  • If something, thEn something else.
  • Something happened, thEn something else happened.
  • This is better thAn that.
Lesson #6 - Who and Whom
People often confuse who and whom. "Who" is used as a subject, "whom" is used as an object, and "what" is on second. Okay, disregard the comment about "what." If you use "whom" improperly, it gives the impression that you are trying to sound smarter than you actually are. To determine which word is proper, substitute "he" or "him" instead, and ask yourself which sounds right. I like using "he" and "him" because it is easy to remember - "him" and "whom" each end in m. Use "who" where you would use "he" and use "whom" where you would use "him."
Lesson #7 - Myself and Other Selves
I have heard enough people say "give it to myself" or "let myself know" that I think the use of "self" deserves some space here. Only I can do things to or for myself. Only you can do things to or for yourself. I cannot do anything for yourself, and you cannot give anything to myself.