As I live in Florida, I pay close attention to the Weather Channel. However, I’m annoyed today at the use of the word “decimate” in describing Dorian, the worst hurricane in the history of the Bahamas.
I previously ranted about using decimate instead of annihilate or devastate. Originally decimate meant to eliminate one tenth. So TWC is literally claiming the worst storm in history demolished only a tenth of The Bahamas. I don’t think that’s what they meant to say.
While decimate is becoming accepted in usage as meaning annihilate, it’s still not a good word choice.
I’ve ranted repeatedly about misuse of it’s for the possessive pronoun its, but there are so many more unnecessary apostrophes. Who is to blame?
Prepare to be shocked by this Grammar Cop admission. Unless you scrupulously proofread and edit every social media post, it’s not your fault. That’s what I said. It’s not your fault!
Our devices try to help us speedily comment and text by using intuitive technology like autocomplete and autocorrect. Then there’s speech recognition software, which, unfortunately, is flawed.
Here’s an example:
I just dictated to my iPad the following:
We travel in a small fiberglass travel trailer made by Casita. Because we live in the south and the Casita is diminutive and fun, we named it Dixie Pixie. For more about our experiences, visit my blog at DixiePixie.blog.
We travel in a small fiberglass travel trailer made by Kaseeta because we live in the south in the Kaseeta is diminutive and fun we named it Dixie pixie for more about our experiences is it my blog at Dixie pixie not block.
Granted, I neglected to add punctuation, but lack of sentence breaks is the least of my problems with this transcription. Sheesh!
If you rely on technology, you should proofread before exposing your comment or post to the public. Especially watch for improper use of apostrophes. It’s seems to be the default for its.
Grammar Cop has cited writers in the past for using words that aren’t words. Irregardless is one, although it’s widely used and accepted (much to Grammar Cop’s dismay). Reoccur is another. Neither is a real word, but writers use irregardless and reoccur instead of regardless and recur.
Here’s another. Unthaw. The word is thaw. Unthaw isn’t a real word. If it were, it would be a synonym for freeze. Supposeably isn’t a word, either. Supposedly is.
Watch out for those pesky non-standard words. When in doubt, check a reliable dictionary.
Writers, do your editors red-mark you for dangling participles? Or do you have a grammar cop critique partner who cites you for a dangler? Have no fear. Grammar Cop is here.
First, know what is meant by participle. A participle is a verb behaving as an adjective…sort of. For example, in the sentence Sensing that she was stressed, I kept my mouth shut, the phrase Sensing that she was stressed modifies the pronoun I and serves as an adjective. Yet the phrase also reveals the “why” of the subject’s behavior, serving as an adverb. Regardless of the participle’s label, it modifies the subject of the sentence. That’s crucial for writers to remember when self-editing.
The trouble arises when the participle doesn’t modify the subject. It’s left dangling. For example, Sensing she was stressed, a hush fell over the room. Seems absurd, right? The room can’t sense her feelings of stress. The people in the room might, if the writer is using third-person omniscient point of view.
My pet peeve is the participle growing up. Be careful or you might commit a gaffe like Growing up, my parents didn’t know where our next meal would come from. or Growing up, there was no remote control for the television. Growing up is a dangling participle in either example. The subject of the sentence is not modified by the participle.
Participles are useful when applied correctly. Just don’t let yours dangle.
Grammar Cop has been on hiatus, but now she’s back and on a familiar rant. Apostrophes! Stop using apostrophes incorrectly. It isn’t that difficult.
Do NOT use apostrophes for pronoun possessives: hers, his, yours, ours, theirs, its.
Do NOT use apostrophes (except in cases of acronyms) for plural: ATMs or ATM’s
It’s is a contraction of it and is. Its is the possessive of it. It’s not that difficult!
Two verbs writers occasionally confuse are flout and flaunt. They may look similar, but they aren’t synonyms.
Flaunt means to show off. She flaunted her wealth by driving her Mercedes convertible everywhere.
Flout means to scorn or show contempt. She flouted the traffic laws with her excessive speeding. (Flout can be used also as a noun meaning scornful insult, but I’ve seen only Shakespeare do it.)
Next time you’re tempted to write She flouted her wealth, be sure you mean she scorned it. Otherwise, change to She flaunted her wealth.
A departure from my usual grammar posts, today I’m addressing the cause of literacy. Did you know International Literacy Day is observed in September? Please take a moment to study the data on illiteracy (compliments of Grammarly.com). It’s everyone’s concern. Learn more about how you can help.