Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pet Peeve: An Everyday Rant, Every Day

English instructors are usually blessed with a love of language, which can also be a curse. If I had $1 for every time I have been told, "Wow, you're an English professor? I guess I better watch what I say around you!" I could retire now (but I wouldn't, because I love what I do). My response is to smile and say something along the lines of "Well, I'm off the clock now, so I promise not to correct your grammar unless you ask me to or pay me to." That statement usually puts people a little more at ease--but not fully. For those of you who feel the same way around English faculty, let me reassure you: we are not listening to what you say to tick off grammatical mistakes; rather, we are paying attention to what you are actually saying. Because English students often struggle with writing, English instructors become very good at deciphering what people really mean, whether they are able to clearly articulate their meaning or not.

That being said, when it comes to writing, it's a completely different story. I find that signs and printed materials with misspellings or inappropriate apostrophes get my dander up. For example, please note that if you have your family's name engraved on a rock for your garden or emblazoned on a varnished piece of wood for your house, please do NOT add an apostrophe! In other words, if your last name is Smith, then your sign should read "The Smiths," not "The Smith's."

Occasionally in my blog, I'll point out one of my professorial pet peeves. In this blog, I'm dealing with the difference between everyday and every day. Nearly every day, for instance, I find my students writing everyday when they really mean every day. What's the difference? It's quite simple, really: when you mean an individual day, as in each and every day, use every day. When you use an adjective to describe a common, ordinary object that is used every day, you use everyday. Clear as mud, right? Here are some examples:
  • I would eventually like to be disciplined enough to write a blog posting every day.
  • Every day during the summer, I enjoy playing in the dirt. (I love to garden.)
  • My everyday clothing is very casual.
  • It is an everyday thing for me to feel tired.
Do you have a grammatical pet peeve that irritates you? Share, please!


Diane Wilson said...


Very interesting. Yes, I have a few errors that irritate me. People often seem confused about "your" and "you're", "to" and "too", when to use "me" or "I" in a sentence, and when speaking with people, mispronounced words catch my attention, such as "zinc" for "sink" or "K-Mark" for "K-Mart" (yes, I know someone who says that! ha)

On the other hand, I am offended when in "everyday" conversations to have MY grammar or meaning corrected, so I make it a point not to correct others. I figure if I know what they meant, that's what's important. And hey, we all make mistakes, write? ha ha :)


Anonymous said...

Dear Kris,

This is another good blog--one that is a lesson in itself. As you know, I live in a gated retirement community where most people have a sign in the front to designate the name of the person or persons living there, often the last name only. I am happy to report our sign is the only one on our part of the street that doesn't have the mistake you point out with the Smith's or the Smiths. Ours says the Merediths. But I won't tell all the others they are wrong (ha).

Love, Dad

Torre DeVito said...

My pet peeve? I have two: the use of an adjective as an adverb(e.g.: Use sparing vs. Use Sparingly) and the term "for free". Outback Steak House likes to perpetrate the first peeve, they think it sounds Australian.