According to one of those viral quizzes everyone takes on Facebook, I am a Grammar Master. I’m debating whether I should add that to my credentials page on my website…ha.
While still deciding, I thought I would list the many ways I fall short of the level of mastery with which social media has labeled me. As demonstrated in a previous post, Google is my grammar tutor sometimes. No shame in my game. With enough education and previous knowledge, I can figure the correct (or most correct) answer to my grammar question. There are some items that I can’t remember, no matter how many times I call on my friend to help.
Here are my most Googled conundrums:
- Accommodate. Spell with two “c”s and one “m”? Other way around? Two of both? Erggg. Sometimes even spellcheck doesn’t help me right away.
- Conjugation of lay. I have only a couple of the tense and number combinations down, but not all of them. It gets tricky with past perfect and the like. Googling this years ago had me come across Grammar Girl — it’s the post on lay vs. lie that I always reference.
- Gray or grey? I’m so fickle on this one that I couldn’t even tell you which one I prefer to use. Apparently, it’s an American English or U.K. English thing. The American usage is often “gray,” and the U.K. usage is “grey.” With this tidbit of knowledge, you can now impress your friends by automatically knowing where authors come from…”You mean you don’t know where author of Fifty Shades of Grey E.L. James is from? Well, obviously she is British. Duh.”
- Conjugation of “sweat,” “ring,” “drink.” The main usage of the past tense of “sweat” is “sweated” — that just sounds so silly. Like it must be incorrect. The perfect tense of “ring” is “rung.” Again, silly. To use “drink” in the perfect tense, you would say a phrase like “I have drunk so much…” — what the?! I don’t know, I just have a problem with conjugations that make you sound unintelligent, yet they are technically correct.
- Burned or burnt? The history of these words is a doozy. Another website I like to reference and is especially helpful in this situation is Grammarist.com. Both “burned” and “burnt” are correct as past tense forms of “burn,” but we have a mix of varying use by country, as well as context, to determine which is used. In America and Canada, we generally say “He burned the house down,” but “the sun is burnt orange.” Overall, I prefer the “-ed” ending.
- Capitalizing directions. Am I going West or west? Is she in Northwest Ohio right now? Or just northwest Ohio? Is the weather amazing in southern California all the time, or just in Southern California? When I’m asking myself these questions, I simply go to my trusty Google friend and type for the millionth time “when to capitalize directions.”
- Who and whom. I have this one down, for the most part. Use “whom” when it is the object of the sentence. For whatever reason, I still get hung up sometimes. Another amazing and witty website full of grammar help and humor is The Oatmeal.com. Their infograpic on who vs. whom is one of my favorites.
- Which Bush are we talking about here? Okay, I know this is not related to grammar at all, but it’s something that I can never remember. Which President Bush is H.W. Bush? Bush Sr. or Jr.? I just had to Google it again to say which one it is! The first Bush is H.W., the second is just W. “dubya.” I just need to say that repeatedly in my head for five minutes, so it is ingrained and I don’t have to use any website to help me.
I’m confident I’m not alone on some of these. Are there any that you just can’t seem to remember or grasp? Do you have any helpful resources I haven’t mentioned? I may claim to be an editor, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect or don’t need to learn anymore. Cheers to all of you who are learning with me! ← That’s still a tricky one for me.