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Dear Content Providers*:

To avoid annoying people who care about the English language (i.e., me), please learn how to use apostrophes, when to use “I” and when to use “me,” and what spelling of the word you need for your sentence.

Auntie Beth is here to help. Again.

 

1. Apostrophes

As I have explained before, apostrophes have two uses: to show possession (of things or people, but not by demons) and to show that a letter is missing (sometimes forming contractions).

What the older-looking Faddel (above) should have written is:

“19 years old, financially stable, in shape, family’s healthy.”

That would mean his family is healthy. Instead, he has pluralized “family” and rendered the sentence nonsensical.

To pluralize, you DO NOT use an apostrophe. Ever. (Please stop making me have to explain this.) Perhaps Tybee Island lifeguards are spending all their time training for beach emergencies and not worrying about punctuation, but I believe in clarity.

2. I vs. me

Here it is, one more time with feeling: Use “I” when you are referring to the subject of the sentence, “me” when you are referring to the object. The linguistics scholar above should have known better. She shouldn’t feel too awful though; even Lady Gaga gets it wrong:

3. Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

Trump is not the only one who has trouble with this if my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds are any indication. Please consider carefully which version of the word you need. I don’t want to have to keep going over this.

Thank you so much.

You’re (not “your”) a peach!
Beth

*By this I mean anyone who maintains a social media account, prepares signs, writes to someone else, etc.

Should be “teachers.”

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Dear loyal readers,

If you have been with me here for a while, you know that grammar and punctuation often are topics for posts. Many moons ago, I wrote a few posts about words I hate. I also wrote the antithesis post. Two, actually.

But I have a new list with a theme.

Always an anglophile, I’ve become even more obsessed with all things England after my recent trip. As you all know.

[Before you get your knickers in a twist (explanation below) about this obsession, just know that my fixations come and go, roughly lasting two weeks to a month (memory refreshers here, here and here). Bear with me; it’s almost over. Also, I’ve been bingeing “Game of Thrones.” Cut me some slack.]

Hence: British words I love (in alphabetical order, because I’m proper like that)

  • ace and, sometimes, aces (adjectives): excellent

Use it in a sentence, please: “That’s ace!” Trish said when her telephonophobic friend finally called her back instead of texting.

  • barmy and barking (adjectives): mad, crazy

Use it in a sentence, please: Eddie thought his wife had gone barmy for going out every weekend.

  • bollocks and bollocking (nouns): nonsense, verbal trash; trashing, telling off

Use it in a sentence, please: Si spent way too much time talking bollocks. Meanwhile, Clair gave Karl a royal bollocking for sleeping during the set. (In his defense, he did have to get up at 6 a.m.)

  • candyfloss (noun): cotton candy

Use it in a sentence, please: Her late grandmother’s hair was blue and spun into an orb like candyfloss at the circus.

  • caravan (noun): RV

Use it in a sentence, please: Hannah is contemplating a caravan rental for the music festival.

  • car park (noun): parking lot/garage

Use it in a sentence, please: Terry didn’t like to go to new places because he worried about finding adequate car parks.

  • cheeky (adjective): impertinent

Use it in a sentence, please: Gideon is becoming quite the cheeky monkey.

  • chuffed (adjective): pleased

Use it in a sentence, please: Hazel was chuffed to little mint balls.

  • dodgy (adjective): sketchy

Use it in a sentence, please: She fled to the ladies room to avoid the dodgy fellow at the bar.

  • faff (verb and noun): to waste time (v) or a time-waster (n)

Use it in a sentence, please: Dominic felt that any interaction with his family was a bit of a faff.

  • gutted (adjective): really upset

Use it in a sentence, please: Beth was gutted about what that asshole Ramsay Bolton did to Theon Greyjoy.

  • hoover (verb): vacuum

Use it in a sentence, please: She accidentally hoovered up the slip of paper on which she wrote an important email address.

  • jacket potato (noun): baked potato

Use it in a sentence, please: Do I really need to?

  • kit (noun): clothing

Use it in a sentence, please: “Come on then, get your kit off,” she had her hero say to the heroine in the sex book she was writing.

  • knackered (adjective): exhausted

Use it in a sentence, please: Cris was knackered Sunday morning after staying out so late the night before.

  • knickers (noun): panties (yes, I love this word too)

Use it in a sentence, please: I already did (see above). (Knickers in a twist = panties in a bunch)

  • pinched and nicked (verbs): stole

Use it in a sentence, please: René pinched some candy from the jar on Beth’s desk.

  • rogering (noun): sex

Use it in a sentence, please: Once the heroine had gotten her kit off, the hero gave her a good rogering.

  • rubbish (should be a noun, but Brits use it as an adjective): worthless

Use it in a sentence, please: I’m rubbish at this Twitter malarkey.

  • skip (noun): dumpster

Use it in a sentence, please: The teenager’s mother got so angry at him that she threw all his Xbox games in the skip.

  • shambolic (adjective): very disorganized, confused

Use it in a sentence, please: The shambolic mess of a woman straggled home after a night out way past her bedtime.

  • shirty (adjective): bad-tempered or aggressive

Use it in a sentence, please: Barry reminded his old girlfriend that the night of the first Tommy Stinson experience was also the night she got into a scrap at the front of the stage because some girl got shirty with her.

  • the tits (adjective): fantastic

Use it in a sentence, please: That shit is the tits.

  • wee (should be a verb, but Brits use it as a noun): pee

Use it in a sentence, please: I went for a wee,” the crazy American shouted to everyone within earshot at the club.

I have heard or read all of these in just the past month. I’ve used some of them. It’s made conversations more interesting.

(British friends, if I have got it all to cock, please make sure I’m sorted. I promise I won’t throw a wobbly.)

 

Side note: This was in the British aisle of my local international market. Pretty sure it should have been Marmite. (I was looking for mushy peas. No, they’re not gross. Shut up.)

Cheerio!
Beth

 

 

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Dear readers (and, I hope, fellow lovers of language):

I need a break from the 2016 election.

Let’s talk about the serial comma (also called the Oxford comma) for a moment. We’ve all seen the following to advocate for its use:
why-use-the-serial-comma

But here’s the thing: I would use a colon to clarify if I really meant that JFK and Stalin had side jobs. My sentence would read:

We invited the strippers: JFK and Stalin.

If I meant that JFK, Stalin and some ladies working their way through college were all coming to the party, I would write:

We invited JFK, Stalin and the strippers.

I’m a fan of improving clarity by rewriting. No need to overwork the comma and use it for a simple series.

However, we cannot give the comma a gold watch and say goodbye. We still need it. And some people certainly appreciate it. (Read this from the bottom up.)

Email courtesy of 36-hour Tina

Email courtesy of 36-hour Tina

 

We also need articles or bad things happen.

 

Image courtesy of Shane Marshall Brown

Image courtesy of Shane Marshall Brown

A “the” before “pen” would have made all the difference. (Or even a bigger space before “is.”)

What we don’t need is random quotation marks — not even one random quotation mark, as seen in the photo below. (By the way, quotation marks come in pairs. That’s how they work. But if the signmaker had added another, we’d be wondering what the dogs are actually doing.)

14462752_10209053160318830_7442341530367414711_n

Image courtesy of Angela DeVore

Please send me your sign/email/meme fails in the comments or via Twitter (@BethCon5). I think we all will be needing more election breaks over the next 45 days.

Love,
Beth

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Dear Georgia Department of Revenue:

It’s been more than three weeks since I dutifully mailed in my 2015 tax forms. Your federal counterparts (i.e., the IRS) cashed my payment check the day they received my forms. Yet I’m still waiting for my refund from you.

Usually I file electronically and get my refund lightning fast. However, thanks to some asshat who tried to steal my identity on a federal return (little did they know that I am not a federal refund kind of gal), I had to mail in the forms.

So now I’m wondering, “Where’s my refund?” It’s a common-enough question that you have a web page devoted to the answer. Let’s break it down:

You cannot help me by phone (no number given) or walk-in (Where would I go to do that in Savannah?) until 30-45 days have passed. I repeat (and so do you): 30-45 days. That is an eternity in today’s instant-gratification society.

Oh wait: You have a portal to allow tracking.

Great!

I signed up. I received this response when I tried to track my refund:

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 3.23.10 AM

 

What is the freakin’ deal?

Comma splice aside (What? No one to proofread? There should be SOMEONE, given the fact that employees aren’t tied up helping people for 30-45 days or so), I promise I entered the correct information. I’m looking at my tax forms. I used my SSN to log in, for crying out loud.

I don’t want to get all loud, Rihanna style, but I do want my refund.

I shouldn’t expect efficiency and logic from a government entity, but I do. I’m optimistic like that. So if you could get your act together, that would be great.

Yours in fiscal responsibility,
Beth

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Dear Facebook Friends:

I’m putting you on notice: I will no longer cringe silently and restrain myself from correcting you when you misuse the word “I.” I will now note the correction in the comments to your post.

It’s public shaming, I know, but you have to learn. I don’t know how you missed this in school, but I’m going to help you.

Use “I” when you are the subject of the sentence. Use “me” when you are the object.

Examples:
Correct sentence: Eddie and I went to Tennessee.
Incorrect sentence: This is a photo of Eddie and I in Johnson City.
(Test: Take out “Eddie and.” It sounds stupid, right?)
Correct sentence: Eddie told Linda and me to stop playing Candy Crush.
Incorrect sentence: Eddie told Linda and I to stop playing Candy Crush right now and he means it, by golly!
(Test: Take out “Linda and.” More stupidity.)

This may be painful for some of you. I promise it is for your own good.

You’ve been warned.
Sincerely,
Me

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Screen shot

Dear Mr. Rashid,

Thank you for your recent email, which appears to be a forwarded recommendation letter from Gregory T. Hagan. While I’m certainly happy Mr. Hagan was pleased with your services, it might behoove him to proofread his letter. As a writing professor and fan of the English language, I am mortified to see that the letter is one huge run-on sentence. Additionally, is “Hem” a person on your staff or is that your nickname? Or perhaps did Mr. Hagan mean “him” here? Why is his name misspelled in his email address, and why is it included at the end of the recommendation letter, making it look like that is the way to contact you?

If I had been asked to assist Mr. Hagan, I would have edited the letter to read as follows:

I am writing to recommend the services of Abdulla Rashid. I was in urgent need of a loan of $8,000 to pay my bills. A friend recommended Mr. Rashid, who helped me immediately. My family and I are now happy. Please contact him if you are in need of any kind of loan. 

I’m dismayed that you would use such a poorly written letter as the first contact with me. It really makes me wonder whether it would be wise to use your services when I have to question your attention to detail. And really, you should have written me yourself first, then provided his recommendation letter as a supplement.

Also, why is your organization offering loans in the first place? Your boilerplate indicates that you provide “innovative plastics solutions.” I see nothing on your website about loans and I see no Abdulla Rashid Salem Jumaan listed on the team biography page.

For these reasons, I must decline your implied offer to loan me money. Thank you anyway. Please send my regards to Mr. Hagan and encourage him to take an English composition course.

Sincerely,
Beth

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Dear Colonel Al-Kurdi Malik:

Thank you for your recent email. You are clearly a busy man — what with leading the Free Syria Army and all — so I feel honored that you chose me as a correspondent along with other “undisclosed recipients.”

During this personal discussion, could you explain how the Free Syria Army (FSA) is different from the Free Syrian Army (FSA)? I’ve heard of the latter and am familiar with it as the Western-backed rebel group fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Is the Free Syria Army a group of discount hunters or part of the Freegan movement?

According to various news reports, Brigadier General Abdul-llah al-Bashir is the leader of the Free Syrian Army. There’s a Colonel Malik al-Kurdi who is the deputy commander of the FSA. Is that you?

If so, congratulations on the promotion to “leader.” What happened to that al-Bashir guy? He only lasted a week!

With all due respect as I know English is not your first language, maybe you should proofread your emails. I’m sure you didn’t really want to send me a “massage.” (Although, I do feel fairly tense right now.)

In addition, here’s another bit of advice: If you want to protect your identity as you indicate, maybe you shouldn’t grant interviews to various media outlets.

Anyway, thanks for writing. I can’t wait to be your pen pal!
Beth

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