Wednesday, March 5, 2014



Yesterday was National Grammar Day. I’ve done this before, but indulge me while I repeat the grammar mistakes I hope I’ll never see again. But probably will.

1. could of. There is no legitimate reason to use “could of.“ I’ve seen it even in traditionally published books, and it apparently stems from the author--to say nothing of the editor--missing an English class. He/she means “could’ve” a contraction of the two words “could” and “have.“ Example: “I could’ve been a contender.“ or “I could have danced all night.”

2. Try and. Technically there is no “try and” (or almost none.)  If your character is going to try to do something, use “try to,” not “try and.“ Example: “I will try to help you.“ After all, if you say “try and” you imply you’ll succeed. But what if you don’t succeed? You’ve told a lie.

3. I could care less. Wrong. After all, if you could care less, then you must care somewhat. But you’re trying to say that you care so little that it would be impossible for you to care any less than you do. Use “I couldn’t care less.”

4. incidentses. This is not a word. One event is an “incident.“ Two or more events are “incidents” (add an “s” to make a plural). There is no such word as “incidentses.”

5. Unless you’re writing dialogue by an illiterate character, you should never write, “Me and my brother,” “Her and I,” “we was,” or “She don’t.“  But I often see “myself” instead of “me. “ Don’t try to get fancy. Wrong: “She gave the book to John and myself.“ Right: “She gave the book to John and me.“ If John were gone, you’d say, “She gave the book to me.“ Wouldn’t you?

6. doctor’s - apple’s. This is actually a punctuation problem that’s become an epidemic. I can hardly read anything without seeing unnecessary apostrophes. Plural words don’t get them. Right: “The apples were ripe and the doctors ate them.“


Watching the Oscars the other night brought several things to mind, first being it was way too long, and Ellen Degeneres added little of value. Why add that nonsense about ordering pizza?


“In Memoriam” reminded me we lost so many good people last year. One was Sid Caesar, the funniest man ever, a true genius of comedy. Yet he was never elected to the Comedy Hall of Fame. My theory: whoever does those things is too young, maybe not even born when the rest of us were glued to YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS on Saturday night. Tina Fey is cute, but she never came close.


Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from a drug overdose was a loss to Hollywood, but it reminded me how easy it is to get addicted to drugs, even prescription drugs. A close friend came close to such a problem. A few days in the hospital for surgery, a couple of months recovering, a pill to stop pain so she could get to sleep, and, bam, she’s got a monkey on her back like Frank Sinatra and heroin in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM.

What’s on your mind, readers? Any brilliant observations or even pet peeves?

Sid Caesar
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Frank Sinatra


  1. Thanks again, Phyllis,

    Everytime I see grammar reminders I try to ound them into my thick head, hoping they'll stick. On the "could of" I worried about my first novel, went back to it in Word, and luckily I had written "could have."

    What's the latest on scare quotes. as in 'scare' quotes? I've read differing opinions.


    1. Bob: Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you found you'd written "could have." What are 'scare' quotes?

  2. Thanks, Phyllis. Great reminders that always need repeating. It's easy to get sloppy when my fingers are flying faster than my brain can keep up.
    Agree about Sid Caesar. The voting makes little sense to me. Tina Fey and not Sid? Really?

    1. Shirleen:
      Thanks for the comment. My brain gets behind sometimes too.


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