Butchering grammar 4: conquering the verbing slackers

You know what else bugs me? Improper use of the singular/plural agreement, and repetitively redundant repetitions.

First, let’s look at the poor slobs who cannot count. (Don’t worry; I did not call you a slob. I wasn’t looking at you.)  If you use a singular noun or pronoun, you should pair it with a singular verb. Plural noun gets a plural verb. Take the following sentence. Please. “There isn’t many calories in there.” Really, this is pretty clear, don’t you think? The word “calories” is plural, so the verb should be plural as well. “There aren’t many calories in there.”

Here’s another singular/plural problem. “There’s less pesticides in there.” This actually has a couple of serious flaws. Did you find them? First, the plural: “There are … pesticides.” Great. Fixed. Now, look at the word “less.” That word refers to size, not numbers. The word “fewer” refers to number. So we would say “There are FEWER pesticides.”

Digression (are you surprised that I digress? It’s my middle name): A Mercedes car commercial says “Less doors.” Fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Really? Your doors are smaller? Lesser? That should have said “Fewer doors.” Some guy got paid a few million dollars for that genius statement.

Now for the third error: unnecessarily repetitive. “There are fewer pesticides in there” may be grammatically correct, but it is too repetitive. Find another way to say “in there,” or just get rid of it altogether. You do not need two “there” in one sentence.

Here’s another example of redundant repetitiveness, unnecessarily duplicating thought over and over. “The reason why is because…” Don’t tell me why three times! My students use this one a lot when defending their ideas in class. Each term, “reason, why, because,” tells me why. Choose one of those words and restructure your reasoning. Say “The reason is…” or “I’ll tell you why” or “That is because…” Vary your wording to make it more readable, more enjoyable for your reader. And often your reader is judging you. Especially if your reader is me.

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1 Comment

Filed under Grammar

One response to “Butchering grammar 4: conquering the verbing slackers

  1. Kay Howat

    I’m enjoying all your ‘grammar’blogs, but you have yet to hit on a couple of my favorites. Won’t tell you what they are. I’ll just wait!

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