Friday, October 17, 2014

The Obligatory Grammar Nazi Post

This post is guaranteed to probably have grammatical errors.

This post thinks its grammar is better than your post.  

Okay, now that we have that settled, let's begin!    

   I was driving home from work the other day when I decided that I had worked far too many long hours and I needed a crappy McDonald's hamburger in order to satiate my rather unsophisticated appetite(don't judge me! I'm only human.  :P ).  Anyway, I pull up to the mic and order a gut busting Bacon McDouble and the cashier says, "thanks for ordering, please pull up to your second window."  Now, technically there's nothing grammatically wrong with what he said, it just didn't feel quite right.  You see, it was the fact that he said "your" window that kinda raised a flag for me.  The fact is, McD's owns the window, and the attendant is the one providing service at that window.   I don't own any windows besides the ones in my house and my car.  It's as if the phrase implies that I'm some sort of temporal majority shareholder, and for those couple minutes I own that window!  That means I could totally fire that guy right then and there, or even promote him!  Unfortunately I think those decisions would reverse as soon as that time window passed....maybe I could just keep going in circles around the drive-through to keep my authority intact!

     Anyway, I think the reason this stikes me in an odd way is because the word "your" its too specific.  The more general and therefore more appropriate word to use would be the word "the."  The sentence would therefore read   "Thanks for ordering. Please pull up to the second window."  This just sounds better and it fits better in the context.  This all got me thinking;  There are a couple other nitpicky things I have about language use that I'd like to talk about here:


     I'm sure just about everyone has uttered the words "very unique"  or "really unique,"  or if you're from north east New England "wicked unique."  Unfortunately for just about everyone, these statements are grammatically meaningless.  Now, I refrain from using the term "grammatically incorrect" because it feels to me like this doesn't quite accurately describe whats wrong with the aforementioned word pairings.  The situation here is that you're trying to modify a fact. Unique means that there's only one of whatever thing or person you're talking about. So by saying "very unique", what you're actually saying is "there's very much only one of that thing."  The reason this doesn't work is because the statement maintains the exact same meaning with or without the "very" modifier.  Its like if I said "I'm very much 6 foot 1."  The modifier is incongruous with the numbers that follow it.

     Oddly enough, however, there are actually modifiers you can use with "unique" such as "spectacularly" or "amazingly."  The reason for this is that these modifies don't describe the relative position of something on a scale, rather they critique the state of being unique.  Using one of these modifiers results in a phrase that equates to  "the fact that he/she/it is unique is amazing"


You've been to the supermarket.  You've seen the signs that say "10 items or less."  I'm here to tell you that this phrase makes no sense.  The correct word is actually "fewer."  Let me explain why this phrase is wrong by instead using "fewer" in a context where you should use "less."  Imagine if I said, "You should drink fewer water."  This just sounds totally wrong.  It definitely should be the word "less" used there.  The reason for this is that "fewer" is a word used to denote relative number of things, and "less" is used to denote the relative size of non-number things like weight, height etc.  So, since number of items is countable, and "less" implies things non-countable, the phrase is literally incomprehensible.

So there you have it:  My short little grammar Nazi nitpicky list, and a pervading sense of seeming pretentiousness (oh crap, I alliterated!  :/ ) to wash it all down.   ;)    

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