We all have them—pet grammatical peeves. We see them or hear them and it’s exactly like fingernails on a blackboard, an itch you can’t scratch, being on the verge of a sneeze that won’t come but won’t go away.
- “15 items or less” (although I should give my thanks to Trader Joe’s; their sign reads “15 items or fewer”)
- “do you want to lay down?” (Lay down what? Why don’t people understand that the present tense of “lay” is a wholly different verb from the past tense of “lie”?)
- “utilize” (what’s wrong with “use”? I refuse to sign any report or letter with “utilize” in it—the pretension is just about as annoying as the uselessness of “utilize”)
- “between you and I” (between is a preposition and the pronouns after it should be in objective case, i.e., “between you and me”)
- “myself” (nothing wrong with this word, except when people use it because they don’t know whether to use “I” or “me”—see above)
I could keep going, but you get the idea. I bet you have plenty of examples, too. I try to remind myself regularly that English is a living language and, therefore, subject to evolution, but somehow I can’t get past my pet grammatical peeves. While it might sound like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon, I try to respect our language and counteract these problems by doing my best to speak and write grammatically—even when I text. Join me—please.