Monday, April 07, 2008

Grammar Monday: Nonstandard is a Nice Way of Saying Incorrect

So many small mistakes, so little time. Since my time is limited, and I need to spend a lot more of it either admiring my pedicure or admiring my new, sassier hairstyle, I will jump right in.

To begin with, a lot is two words, not one. A. LOT. Not alot. This is a very common mistake, made by many people who I think are otherwise fine, intelligent individuals. Please, all you fine, intelligent individuals, KNOCK IT OFF. You are making me crazy. It would make me feel a lot better if you would just use your spacebar.

Second, the word irregardless is listed in the dictionary as "nonstandard," but in fact it is a double negative and therefore incorrect. Because English is a living language, it grows and changes, and words like this end up in our dictionary simply because they are used quite frequently. The dictionary chooses to define words such as this as "nonstandard" versions, but I'll just be up front and tell it to you straight. It's not correct. The correct word to use is regardless. The ir is not necessary because you already are negating the root word, regard, by using the suffix less. Don't waste your energy typing those two extra letters.

Finally, it is not all right to use the word alright. I blame the growing use of this nonstandard form on liner notes. U2 is a major culprit, and I'd have a serious grudge against Bono if he weren't doing all those nice things for people in Africa. Again, English is a living language, growing and changing, but this is still a slang version. The formal form (otherwise known as "the acceptable form for edited works") is all right. Take the energy you were formerly using to type the two extra letters of irregardless to add the extra L and the space in all right. See how nicely that works out? It all evens up in the end.


I've run out of questions for Grammar Mondays, so if you have questions of your own or have just noticed something that drives you crazy, please drop a note in the comments or send an email to marymuses at gmail dot com.


Shiz said...

You would have loved DICTIONARY DAY in my English class at Jewell. We all had to bring our dictionaries (I borrowed one) and Dr. D.D.D. (or D-3, as we said sometimes; seriously had all three initials as Ds) brought in a trolley of different dictionaries and other useful dictionary-like reference books.

We learned how to figure out how a dictionary was arranged (i.e., some give the definition most commonly used first, some go by chronology, etc.) and all sorts of other features. Dictionary Day is INFAMOUS for those of us taking "The Common Course" with D-3, and we found it pretty silly to spend an hour on it. I did find it boring, but then it was an early class that I rarely ate breakfast beforehand.

Here's a topic: will you PLEASE discuss conciseness?

Shiz said...

Also: please discuss active voice vs. passive voice?

markbe said...