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Question of the Week - Ask the Grammar Queen

I want to reiterate here that even though I love grammar and notice mistakes, I do NOT judge anyone based on those mistakes. Unless you are applying for a job as a technical writer/editor and you have mistakes in your resume. Then, I will shake my head, laugh, and toss your resume into the trash.

But on your blog or in comments? No big deal. Heck, I know I make mistakes too. I hate it when I am rereading a post I already published and find grammar mistakes, typos or just confusing writing (usually stemming from sleep deprivation).

I do know grammar pretty well. And after all the comments on last week's post, I thought maybe for the Question of the Week I'd offer you the opportunity to ask me questions:

What question about grammar would you like me to answer?

Shoot me anything that you're not sure about or have always wondered. Heck, see if you can stump me! I'll be honest if I have to look up an answer.

And I'll start with one of my own and see if anyone can tell me:
-What is the difference/when do you use "wish I was" versus "wish I were"?

I had a boss a long time ago who told me the answer, but I have totally forgotten and am always wishing I knew. Anyone out there know?

What have you forgotten? What do you want to know? Are there any grammar or word usage errors that you often make?

Comments

paola said…
'I'm Paola.'
'I wish I were Caramama.'

'Wish' takes the subjunctive, therefore, 'were', rather than 'was'. The subjunctive is generally used to express desire, hope etc, but in a much more limited way to other European languages such as Italian, French or Spanish 'I wish I was...' is an acceptable form, seeing it is widely used in spoken English, but not grammatically correct.

This is how I'd teach it, anywyay.
Anonymous said…
Ooo, ooo, I know this one:

You use 'were' for things that are NOT true and 'was' for things that are (or could be). So actually, I can't think of a time when you'd say "I wish I was" because of the nature of the word 'wish'.

So correct usage is:

"If I were seven feet tall, I'd want to play professional basketball"

and

"They said I could get free books for the kid, assuming I was their mother."

But wrong is:

"If I was in that situation, I know exactly what I'd do."

"Yesterday I skipped breakfast and lunch. Fortunately, I found out that if I were hungry, I could get free dinner at the mission."

The one I have trouble with is "bring" and "take". Do I 'bring' sunscreen on my vacation or do I 'take' it?
Not a question but a story: I edited my senior-year-of-college resume so many times, had it copyedited by editor friends, etc. And it still had a mistake in the phrase "attention to detail." :P (Somehow it said "addition to detail," which I guess people must have thought I meant to say. Whoops!)

Even though I made that mistake, I tend to disregard resumes with typos as well. Especially if there is more than one.
paola said…
@anonymous

Take to..
Bring from.

'Take this to John'
'He brought it from home'.
paola said…
Sorry for stealing bring/take!!!

Here are a few easy ones for you:

1. Punctuate these:

If John comes I'll let you know
I'll let you know if John comes

2. What is the rule for forming the comparative and superlative forms? eg. Big, Bigger Biggest

3. What is the rule for the doubling of the final consonant of some nouns and verbs as in the above example?

4. What is the infinitve of the verb 'wrought' as in 'wrought havoc'?

5. Which is correct and for what reason?

More than one dealer has/have shown interest in the product.

Fish and chips is/are my favourite dish.

The little boy, together with her mother, plays/play at the park.
hush said…
"I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller. I wish I had a girl; if I did, I would call her. Wish I had a rabbit in a hat, and a bat, and a 6-4 Impala."

(Lyrics from Skee-Lo's "I Wish")

So we're saying Skee-Lo didn't use proper grammar in his inimitable 90s hip-hop classic. (Sad face.)

One mistake I hear all the time is in the spoken usage of LESS and FEWER.
Geeks in Rome said…
commas!!

More than vs. over
ex. more than 100 people...
mom2boy said…
@ Hush - lol love it.

@paola - thanks for the bring/take trick.

Someone tell me about feeling bad/feeling badly, behaving bad/behaving badly please.

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