Riding Hood knows her right grammar.

Cartoon by Elizabeth Wagele

I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it. - Carl Sandburg

I’m not an expert in grammar and the proper use of English. In fact, often I hear myself saying “like” in wrong places, which annoys me. But my curiosity about the different ways people speak has led me to want to speak as logically as possible. Sloppy use of language, including redundancy, leads to sloppy logic in other aspects of life. Though I’m not a 1-Perfectionist in the Enneagram system (I’m a 5-Observer), I sometimes feel like one when it comes to correct English. Here are some pet peeves:

Expressions and words I’m tired of and didn’t like in the first place:

• “Going forward” is overused and often unnecessary—it’s already clear the event will be in the future. “Going forward, we’re having spaghetti tonight,” for example, seems redundant.

• “Is is” is redundant… Why then do so many people, even President Obama (usually a good speaker), say, for example, “The trouble is, is that…”?

• “Anyway…” Sometimes a person will be quiet for a time, then simply say “anyway,” a close cousin to “whatever,” to change the subject. “Anyways” is even more annoying.

• “Whatever.” My son Nick calls this the rudest word in the English language. When a teenager doesn’t want to mind, he or she might make a disgusting face and say whatever, meaning “You’re trying to get me to do something stupid. I’ll do it if I feel like it.” Once Suzy went out with a fellow who repeated "whatever" over and over in a rude way. That was their last date.

• “24/7,” “Awesome,” “Totally,” “Tote,” and “At the end of the day.”

Incorrect grammar and definition:

* Jack refers to him and his partner as “Jane and I” when he should be saying “Jane and me.” For example, instead of “…show it to Jane and me” he says “…show it to Jane and I.” He, she, they, we, and I should not be used after a preposition or as the object of a verb.

To check this, leave out the other person: if you would say, “I like him” it’s correct to say, “I like Sandra and him.” You wouldn’t say, “I like he.”

• People almost always say and write “different than” when it should be “different from.”

Here are the rules: The word than is a preposition that usually follows an adjective when making a comparison between people, items, or conditions. Examples: more than, less than, better than, worse than, colder than, sweeter than.

However, different than can also be correctly used in a sentence such as: college life is different than I expected. The distinction between this example and the first one that uses different than incorrectly: a clause instead of a noun follows the word different.

If a noun follows different, use from: Curiosity is different from other ways of being fulfilled…

If a clause (has a subject and verb) follows different, use than: College life is different than I expected.

* “Crescendo.” This is a musical term that means gradually getting louder. It doesn’t mean a climax or a goal, but people often use it as though it does.

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