Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Queen's English May 2011
Debby Kean
This entry is simply based on a number of things I have heard or read recently that make me cringe.
You know that feeling you get when you bite into something very cold? Or someone makes you a cup of tea, you take it gratefully, only to find out, with the first sip, that they have put 3 spoonfuls of
sugar in it?
You suck in breath through your teeth, and try to smile. It's not easy!
So - to begin...
Based off - no! Something is based on something else. It cannot possibly be based off, or worse, based 'off of', something else.
Bias/biased. For this one, I am offering an example and my answer to the man...
“You can't get true information from any articles... . Because they are bias in their results.
Man, you're 'bias'!”
“The word you want is 'biased'. Bias is the noun, biased is the adjective”.
(The person thanked me for the grammar lesson. I think he was probably being sarcastic, but he ought not to have been. I had taught him something!)
I have discovered that it is, sadly, quite common for people to confuse noun, adjective and adverb.

Contradictory versus contradictive and I quote : “Just seems kind of contradictive to me”. There is simply no such word as contradictive!
There/their/they're - there's no excuse for a native speaker to mistake these words.
• There - refers to place “Would you bring me that book over there by the radio?”
• Their - an item or items belong to 'them'. “Sarah and Laura both forgot to take their umbrellas to work today”
• They're means 'they are'. “David and Sarah are going to see the travel agent this afternoon. They're going to Dunedin for Labour Day weekend”
Example of misuse is: “while we watch the ignoramuses Walk there ignoramus strut?”

Your/You're - another mistake for which there is no excuse! “That would be my birthday so I hope your wrong.”
Your - belonging to you. “Hey, did you bring your mobile phone?”
You're - You are. “As a newly enrolled student, you're required to have a copy of the New Headway Intermediate student's book by the time class begins next week.”

Plurals with apostrophes
That is a very big no! It is sadly obvious that many people just don't know when to use apostrophes and arguably more important, when not to use them. Apostrophes have two purposes - to express the possessive
“It is Jim's bag over there”, and to stand in for omitted letters, in a contraction - “I can't (cannot) phone now, but I'll (I will) do it when the line is free”. No other use is permitted! Not this for instance: “so a case of Rules for Radical's here”.
(It used to be known as The Grocer's Apostrophe” as grocers (those selling groceries) would have chalkboards outside their shops, advertising specials, such as “Potatoes 59 cents a kilo”. Well, that's what it ought to have said, but
many times the shopper would see a board like this:
• Potato's 59 cent a kilo
• Carrot's 12 cents a kilo
• Newspaper's and bus ticket's also available.
It was amazing also, the creative ways grocers had of spelling the word Potatoes!
More than enough infelicities for now - sadly, I am sure there will be more!

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