Butchering Grammar 9: don’t let me catch you doing this

In my previous blog, I mentioned a few grammar slips that make me twitch. (I tell my students that this is all about me anyway, so do NOT make me twitch.) I thought I would give you a few more on my top Pet Peeve list of grammar and usage errors.

The word “although” is often used interchangeably with “however.” However, it should not be mistaken for replacing the “however” I just used at the beginning of this sentence. The word “although” has a couple of uses and one specific way it should NOT get used.

Correct: “I agree with your point, although I can see the other side to the argument.” Use it like however here. It does not need to be surrounded with commas; just the one comma in front, because it is a conjunction.

Incorrect: “Although, I never do agree with you when we argue.” Here it cannot be used as you would the word “however.”

Correct: “Although you and I never agree, I still love you.” Here the conjunction needs a comma after the phrase in which it is used, because you are connecting a dependent and independent clause.

So while “however” can be used to replace “although,” the word “although” cannot be used completely interchangeably with “however.

“Build off of.” Twitching begins here. I do not build an argument OFF of something else; I build an argument ON something else. I’m not sure how this became misused, but I see it more often lately. Think of this as a building problem. I cannot build a bridge off of a foundation; I must build it on a foundation so that it is firmly rooted to the spot.

Affect and Effect. One is a verb, and the other is a subject. “Affect” is the verb: “How did that affect your plans?” “Effect” is the noun: “What effect did that have on your plans?” Very, very rarely is “effect” used as a transitive verb, and in that case it means “to make happen or to bring about.” “I had hoped to effect a change in your writing by introducing these twitchy grammar problems.”


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