The Compulsive Copyeditor

July 12, 2009

Pet Peeves

Filed under: grammar,language degenerating — amba12 @ 5:44 am
  • People who write “prior” when they mean “before” and “previous” in place of “earlier.”  Sounds more important, don’tcha know.   It’s the old Latinate posing and pretense versus Anglo-Saxon forthrightness.  Lawyers and yeomen.
  • People who write “I” where “me” is properly called for (“he gave it to Sally and I”) because they think it sounds . . . taller.  More refined and debonair.  Really it just sounds ignorant — because they don’t even know they’re saying “he gave it to I”!

You don’t learn the names of noun cases unless you study Latin, German, or Russian, but they’re there in English just the same:  “I” is the nominative case, the agent who acts in a sentence, and “me” is both the dative, or indirect recipient (“he gave it to me”) and the accusative, or direct object, of an action (“he hit me”).  “Me” got a bad rap because little kids, who can’t get anything unless an adult gives it to them, say “Me, me, me!” like gaping baby birds before they attain to the dignity, agency, and autonomy of “I want that.”  Poor “me” — it’s just a part of speech that forever makes us feel like short and greedy toddlers.  Saying “me” is humbling, so people punish grammar to preserve their amour-propre.



  1. I am he
    as you are he and we are all together.
    See how they run like pigs from a gun,
    See how they fly.

    This blog be greatly impacting my gramma!

    Comment by Ron — July 12, 2009 @ 6:18 am | Reply

  2. Have you noticed recently that online text-formatters (for online newspapers and the like) have begun to place the hyphen in modifying phrases on the SECOND line when the words in the phrase break over a line? And not the FIRST?

    Weirdest thing ever. See if you observe the same thing. I’ve not kept track of the ones I’ve seen in the wild.

    It looks something like this:

    Notify me of follow
    -up comments via email.


    Comment by k — July 20, 2009 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

    • I have not yet noticed that, but I will now! And I’m sure it will set my teeth on edge. Thanks for the heads up.

      Comment by amba12 — July 20, 2009 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

  3. Top 40 Grammar Pet Peeves
    If you are grammatically challenged, or let’s face it, a grammatical snob who will catch the grammatical error in the title of this blog, you owe it to yourself to check out these grammatical pet peeves and tips at Top 40 Grammar Pet Peeves

    Comment by Mark Pennington — August 7, 2009 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

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