“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#1 Jul 15, 2013
DEAR AMY: I have been dating a wonderful, warm, caring man for the last five months. He has many positive qualities and enjoys the cultural arts and dancing as much as I do. I care a lot about him.

The problem is his poor, incorrect grammar. He is intelligent and educated, but often when he talks, he sounds as though he is neither. I don’t know if it is just a bad habit he’s developed over the years or if he is unaware his grammar is incorrect. I’ve met other members of his family and they speak correctly.

I wish his bad grammar didn’t bother me, but it does. I have a master’s degree and have been a music teacher for 27 years, so I’m very aware whether students and people in general are using proper grammar. I’ve run this “problem” past family and friends and have gotten a variety of responses. I would really like to bring his grammar errors up to him because I believe it’s something he could correct, but I need to do it in a kind and tactful way so I don’t hurt his feelings.

Here are some examples of his grammatical errors:

I don’t want no more of that food.

I seen a beautiful picture at the art gallery

I should’ve did that paperwork yesterday.

I’m so wore out from all that work.

This may be my own idiosyncrasy and a bit picky in light of his other wonderful qualities, but speaking correctly is important to me and I can’t seem to let it go. Any suggestions?-- Grammatically Correct Lady

DEAR CORRECT: When you want to be tactful, I think it’s best to start, not by running chapter and verse past your friends and family and soliciting their opinions, but by being direct and respectful.

I’ve noticed that tactful people often seem to camouflage their issue with self-deprecating charm. You can start by telling your friend how much you enjoy him. Then you should segue right into the tact. You say,“I know I’m going to sound like a schoolmarm here, but did you realize that you make grammatical mistakes from time to time?” Ask him how he’d feel if you corrected him now and then.

He may say,“It don’t make no nevermind to me,” which, though untranslatable, is an invitation to go ahead and correct.(2004)

DEAR AMY: Our family enjoys your column. You have a particularly dedicated fan in our 12-year-old son, who reads your column every morning during breakfast.

As a family with roots in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, we especially liked the end of your answer to “Grammatically Correct Lady” in a recent column.

However, to our eye (ear?) your education and sense of grammatical propriety was still peeking through.

We would normally say,“It don’t make me no nevermind.” To say,“It don’t make no nevermind to me,” as you did — with a bona fide prepositional phrase included — is just a bit of citified formality!-- Fans in Chicago

DEAR FANS: I’ve heard from several readers wondering if I grew up in a certain corner of Virginia or along the North Carolina border. I didn’t, but somehow that phrase made it north into my native neck of the woods.

Your correction is correct.

Insertion of a prepositional phrase must have been due to my now built-in fear of vigilant copy editors, who save me daily.

By the way, the translation to this ungrammatical phrase is,“It doesn’t matter to me,” which, though understandable, lacks music, don’t you think?

My sincere thanks to your 12-year-old son and to breakfast-table readers everywhere.

“...,to wit”

Since: Jun 09

Location hidden

#2 Jul 15, 2013
The way a person talks is a reflection of what he/she hears and what he/she believes is acceptable. Preaching to people like this is not a good way to respond. Hanging around with people who speak less colloquially and mentioning in advance that THE OTHER people pay attention to this might be more effective.

Hard to do though. I put it in the same category as trying to correct table manners in anyone over 18.

Since: Mar 09

Miami, FL

#3 Jul 15, 2013
PEllen wrote:
The way a person talks is a reflection of what he/she hears and what he/she believes is acceptable. Preaching to people like this is not a good way to respond. Hanging around with people who speak less colloquially and mentioning in advance that THE OTHER people pay attention to this might be more effective.
Hard to do though. I put it in the same category as trying to correct table manners in anyone over 18.
Yeah....

I wouldn't have made it anywhere near 5 months with someone like this. It's a huge pet peeve.

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#4 Jul 15, 2013
I can't believe we have to read rehash in a rehash column. No other grammar letters to add to spice it up a little?

<sigh>

“A Programmer is not in IT!”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#5 Jul 15, 2013
Give it up, you will never get them to speak the way you want them to. My x used to (and probably still does) bastardize words, I tried to help her pronounce them properly, waste of time.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Braidwood, IL

#6 Jul 15, 2013
There went two minutes of my life I'll never get back.

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Braidwood, IL

#7 Jul 15, 2013
j_m_w wrote:
<quoted text>
Yeah....
I wouldn't have made it anywhere near 5 months with someone like this. It's a huge pet peeve.
Don't not now be such a hater, girlie.
tiredofit

Los Angeles, CA

#8 Jul 15, 2013
PEllen wrote:
The way a person talks is a reflection of what he/she hears and what he/she believes is acceptable. Preaching to people like this is not a good way to respond. Hanging around with people who speak less colloquially and mentioning in advance that THE OTHER people pay attention to this might be more effective.
Hard to do though. I put it in the same category as trying to correct table manners in anyone over 18.
PEllen, I agree with you. I have a family member who says some really hookie words and we just shake our heads and wonder where the hell did he get that.

“On Deck”

Since: Aug 08

French Polynesia

#9 Jul 15, 2013
I know what you mean.
I always laugh a little laugh inside when people misuse words. But I never say anything aloud or try to correct their patterns.

Since: Mar 09

Pittsburgh, PA

#10 Jul 15, 2013
Yinz want I should oughta learn ya how to talk English good?

Since: Jan 10

Location hidden

#11 Jul 15, 2013
L1: There's the way people speak, and then there's what they know on paper. I know plenty of smart, educated Minnesotans who say "borrow" instead of "lend." "I forgot my billfold at home today; could you borrow me $10 for lunch?" It's pervasive. It's also something I learned long ago to live with. These same people would get it right if you quizzed them. It's just so ingrained at this point.

But I would not and could not date someone with such a poor grasp of the language to which he was born.

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