Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where's My Penny Cutter?

My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements. -Ernest Hemingway

This is kind of off the wall and has nothing to do with my home or garden, but I'm a grammar freak. I was communicating with someone over Google Talk today about a USB adapter he needed for his phone. I found one on eBay for $0.99 with free shipping. He was commenting on how cheap it was.

"Very cheap.
.99, amazing.
.99 cents"

At this point I replied with, "Umm. That's less than a penny." He knows that. He just wanted to get at me. He next typed, ".99 cents would be VERY good. Bother you?" "Yes, actually. That's one of my least favorite grammatical errors." Naturally, he got to harassing me since he now knew I didn't like it. "I had no idea. Is it wrong to say .99 cents?" I replied with a simple " :) " to which he continued, "I could maybe afford .99 cents. .99 cents is a good deal. I may have .99 cents. Can I borrow .99 cents?" I told him, "No. My penny cutter is broken." He said, "See if you can find one for .99 cents?" I replied, "I can't and that's not a question either, while we're knit picking grammar..."

I'm always amazed at how many people are confused with that. It's not 0.99 cents, people! Do you realize that's 99 hundredths of a cent? It's either $0.99 or 99¢ but NEVER 0.99¢ or 0.99 cents.

Another one that makes me smile, but doesn't bother me so much, is when people say, "Guess what?" "Guess what" is not a question. It's a command sentence and should be ended with either a period (that's the little dot, remember? Like this: ".") or an exclamation mark (!). That's probably confusing to people because we use "What?" so much. When you say "Guess what" to someone, and end it with a question mark, it almost makes it sound like you didn't understand yourself. "Guess! Huh, what?"

I could go on and on about grammar errors, but I'll just bring up one more. See this little guy? " ' " He's called an apostrophe. I'm sure you've seen him about being used both correctly and incorrectly. The most common mistake I see with him is when he's placed in words that are meant to be plural. "We are picking apple's." Ok, so this implies either "apple is" or that the apple owns something. "Apple is" simply doesn't make sense in this sentence unless you were to say, "We are picking. Apple is...." which you can see is going nowhere really fast. If we see it to mean that Apple, whoever this might be, owns something, the first problem we run into is that he should have his name capitalized. We wouldn't want him to feel like he's being degraded, now would we? The next problem is, supposing we are picking something that belongs to Mr. Apple, WHY DID WE STOP THERE?! What were we picking of his? What's that period doing there before the sentence even got through telling us what we were doing?!

Maybe another time I'll carry on some more about things like "your or you're", "than or then", or when commas are supposed to be used. Just my luck, I probably messed up on each of the areas I've been ranting about in this very post. :) English really is a very fascinating language. What do foreigners do for entertainment? They can't say things like "Mete out the meat to all you meet" or "Pare that pair of pears" or even "Did you read what I read about a reed in red?" I just love English! I also love to see people use proper grammar. :)


  1. In my opinion "Guess what?" is just as correct as "Guess what!" because you can take it as being an abbreviated version of "Can you guess what happened?" or "Guess what happened!"

  2. Oh, and foreigners can have fun in their own language. :D Spanish for example?

    I think my favorite is this:
    El vino vino, pero el vino no vino vino. El vino vino vinagre.

    According to Google, that translates as "The wine wine, but wine is not spade. Wine wine vinegar."

    I'll leave it up to you to get the proper translation.

  3. Germans too!

    fünf tausend fünfhundert fünfundfünfzig

    (Prounounce: foonf tousunt foonf hoondret foonf oond foonf eesh)

    English translation: five thousand five hundred fifty five

  4. Hyrum, Thank you. That's a good one. Google (even though it's the best translator) almost never gets in right. I translate that to mean "The wine went, but the wine didn't go to wine. The wine went to vinegar." Oh no! That's almost a tongue twister in English! :O

    Firewire, Thank you! That German one is too funny. I have to disagree on the "Guess what" arguement though. If you wanted to say "Can you guess what?" it would make it slang to only say "Guess what?" my opinion. :)

  5. You're 180° from the proper translation. :) Vino as a verb is "came" (past tense of the verb venir), and as a noun, it's "wine."

    The wine came, but the wine didn't come as wine. The wine came as vinegar.

  6. In other words:

    We made some wine that tasted like vinegar.

  7. Thanks, Hyrum! One day I'll have my Spanish verb tenses figured out.

    FireWire, actually vinegar and wine are formed the same way as each other; one is just with a different bacteria, if I understand correctly. So basically, they meant to get wine, but they got the wrong bug in it and it turned into vinegar instead.

    Why whine when the wine went wrong? :D :D :D


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