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See also: Laramie/English/5DollarWords

Pet Peeves - the correct usage of English


i before e

This one goads me so badly, it needs its own page: Laramie/i_before_e

Reflexive Pronouns and Lists

"Myself" is the reflexive pronoun, meaning you use it when you are both the subject and the object of a sentence:

"I shot myself in the foot." 
"I told myself I wasn't going to do it."

When you are not the actor, you just use this:

"Why did you hit me?"
"Send the eMail to me."

So, in lists of objects, you do this:

"Send the eMail to Joe and me."

Do NOT do this:

"Send the eMail to Joe and myself."  -- WRONG!!!

For completeness, let me say that you could do this, if you are the actor, since you and the catcher are both objects, but then again, why not recast the sentence?

"I swung the bat and hit myself and the catcher."

Reflexive means when you turn the action around onto yourself, so you need a special pronoun. Otherwise use "I" or "me." You may have caught that "yourself" is also reflexive. For example:

RIGHT: "You hit yourself." WRONG: "You hit you."

Similarly, it is proper to use "me" when you are the object of a transitive verb. That is, you receive the action. So, these are all proper:

"You hit me."
"Please leave a message for me."
"Please leave a message for Joe and me."

Do NOT do this:

"Please leave a message for Joe and I."  -- WRONG!!!
"Please leave a message for Joe and myself."  -- WRONG!!!

I know your mama scolded you when you said "Me and Billy is goin' to the store," but that's a different rule. According to that rule, "Billy and I are going to the store" is more proper than "I and Billy are going to the store." Two issues here: one is that you should put yourself at the end of a list; the other is that you aren't a "Me" if you are in the subject, you are an "I." You wouldn't say "Me am going to the store," you'd say "I am going to the store."

Latin Words and Plurals

These words come straight from Latin. The singular and plural forms are shown.


So, correct English is:

"The data don't fit the expected results."
"This datum is so far from the rest of the data, that it must be wrong."
"Did you collect all the data?"
"The data are incorrect."

This is just how you would use the word "Sheep," although, sheep is the same form when sigular or plural.

"The sheep are all lost."
"I have an item to add to the Agenda."

"Agendas" is technically incorrect. "Cactuses" is incorrect, but is, sadly, more accepted these days.

Lost Words

These are everyday words, that used to mean something else. That other usage is gone, replaced by weaker meanings.

  • Fantastic -- depicting fantasy, unbelievable because it would make sense only in fantasy (fantasy being a dreamed up reality, or an imagined existence). (Now it may mean just "good," adjective, or "really well," adverb.)
  • Extraordinary -- not ordinary, beyond ordinary
  • Amazing -- causing amazement, wonder, disbelief
  • Horrific -- causing horror
  • Terrific -- causing terror, terrifying. (Now it means "good.")
  • Great -- large or extensive. "A great man" used to mean a man whose contributions were so important, that his very stature seemed to be bigger than other humans. (Now it can just mean "good.")
  • Wonderful -- causing wonder. (Now it means "good.")

The Correctocrats

I won't have some borgeios correctocrats telling me that I don't know English. Whether it is using "myself" in their pompous, assured-nervousness, or if it is correcting my spelling on words used identically by Shakespeare, or if it is attempting to correct me when I use the word "me" correctly. I won't have it.

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