My husband is a man of a few words. So, when he texted me the other day, after our heated argument “You’re dinner, on the kitchen table,” I wasn’t sure whether to panic at the prospect of being cooked or smile at his awkward attempt to make peace. Instead, I laughed hysterically and answered in an equally vague way “Oh darling, I am sorry I love you,” and continued laughing till I fell off the bed.
I then realized that I should probably be more sympathetic to his grammatical errors since even accomplished writers make some (perhaps not as serious as my Hannibal husbands’, but errors nonetheless).
To be safe, I decided to avoid the kitchen and the table and dinner, grabbed a cereal bar, and sat down to compile a list of the five most common grammatical mistakes. Because grammar can save your job (and sometimes your marriage).
1. i.e. vs. e.g
These Latin abbreviations are so frequently misused that Julius Ceasar would probably have a fit (or a feast). The Latin phrase id est, abbreviated as, i.e., means “in other words,” which is used to provide a more precise explanation of what has been said.
“My husband needs to work on his apology skills – i.e., bring me flowers, kneel before me and swear eternal love, let me sleep in and take out the dogs, the garbage and perhaps the kids.”
On the other hand, the Latin phrase exempli gratia abbreviated as e.g., means “for example” and is used to give specific examples to endorse a statement.
“My husband and I always argue on important household issues, e.g. the color of our toilet paper, the size of the dog’s bed linen, and the aroma of our shampoo.”
2. Who vs. That
These two words are used to define a person or an object within a sentence. Using them correctly can be tricky and an error that often time slips by. When describing a person, always be sure to use WHO, and when describing an object, use WHAT.
“My husband is the one WHO cooked the dinner THAT is sitting on the kitchen table” (and will probably stay there since I am not entirely sure what’s for dinner).
3. Who vs. Whom vs. Whose vs. Who’s
Yeah, I know. It’s a nightmare. But let’s simplify things.
- “Who” is used to identify a living noun. “Who is the best wife in all universe?” (me, in case you were wondering)
- “Whom” is used to describe someone who is the recipient of something “To whom shall I give the best wife award?” or an action “Whom shall we nominate for the award?” (please find the answer above)
- “Whose” is used to allocate possession. “Whose husband will need to improve his apology skills?” Since it sounds like who’s, the two are often confused when writing and can slip through when proofreading out loud.
Who’s,” however, is used to describe a living being and is a contraction of “who is.” An example would be “Guess who’s having a cereal bar for dinner tonight?”
5. Me vs. I
Ι admit it. I am guilty of this glitch as well. Since I sound posher than Me, I would frequently use the former instead of the latter. “Please include my husband and I at your dinner reservation tonight.” Sounds about right, until you exclude husband from the equation (which I am also guilty of, occasionally) “Please include I at your dinner reservation tonight” sounds more Posh Spice than posh.
5. That vs. Which
“Which” as a descriptor should always be preceded by a comma, whereas “that” should not.
“We passed by the house that the weird couple lives in” Vs. “We passed by the house, which the weird couple lives in.”
Granted, we all make mistakes. A little reminder, therefore, never hurt anyone. So you are welcome. Now, how do I slip into the kitchen to grab another cereal bar without being seen?