You're 'Me,' Not 'Myself,' and Other Grammar Peeves

Sad kids do not 'literally tear' the heart out of a mall Santa, and other mistakes
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2009 4:16 PM CDT
Letters spell "No."   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Some common grammar mistakes are also inexcusable, Johnny Truant writes for Copyblogger. Too many of the following, and your readers may decide "that you’re actually a chimpanzee—and not one of the smart ones, either."

  • It's "me," not "myself:" People often "think that complicating the language needlessly will make them sound smart." Usually not. "I did the job myself" is correct. "So-and-so and myself..." is heading down a dangerous path.

  • "Subject/predicate disagreement:"  Take "this person didn’t know what they were doing." Substitute "Bob" for "this person"—is he still a "they?" The proper, if clunky, solution is "he or she."
  • "An historic:" Just like "myself." "Ask yourself if you’d say, 'an horse' or 'an house.'" However you try to rationalize it, the "h" in "historic" is not silent.
  • "Was vs. were:" "Everyone makes this mistake," Truant writes, but still. A simple rule for the subjunctive: "If you’ve used 'if,' that’s a pretty good indicator that were is appropriate."
  • Think about what "literally" literally means: Truant collects "'literally' mentions," like a reference to Britney Spears being “literally on a roller coaster to hell.” Now, that may be true, but if it's not, "metaphorically" would be better.