Bad grammar detracts from good writing like an over-salted dish ruins a fine meal. It leaves a vile taste in the mouth and puts you off going there again.
Yes language evolves, yes dictionaries are regularly updated to reflect this and no I don’t want us to all speak like Shakespeare but the way we speak and write is still important.
You may be the most fascinating, hilarious and kindest person I’ve ever met but if you smell it will put me off spending time with you.
To me, bad grammar is the same. If you can’t be bothered to clean up your language and to make sure it flows smoothly, then I don’t want to read your work.
Here are some common pitfalls that have crept into accepted use recently:
I am nauseous means I produce nausea in others. You don’t mean that, do you? You are nauseated. You feel sick.
Is not a word. Marketing people – stop using it.
Unless you’re quite literally in an episode of Made in Chelsea, you quite literally cannot afford to use this horrific word over and over and over again.
Even Microsoft Word red pens this one. It is not a word. Stop repeating what you’ve heard other people say at work.
Lay and lie
My chickens lay eggs. You do not. You lie down.
You lay an object. You lie yourself down.
Lay and laid
Laid is the past tense of lay. Lay is the past tense of lie.
See above. You laid down an egg. You lay down on the bed.
Is singular. My team is. Not my team are. I’m not a violent person but I have to restrain myself over the incorrect use of this. Beware.
Do not use when you mean his or her. The word ‘their’ is plural. It is not a substitute for his or her. Everyone (singular) must bring his or her (not their) own parrot to the party.
Fewer and less
One that is become less often used, fortunately. For those still unclear, fewer is quantifiable, less is hypothetical. I have fewer items in my bagging area. I have less time on my hands.
I’m sure you recognise some of these errors but now you’re aware of them, with a little care and attention, we can put this right together and make sure every sentence we create is a little thing of beauty.
Katy Pollard is a Communications and Engagement professional with more than 11 years’ experience and qualifications of a CIPR Diploma and an MA in Journalism. The self-confessed grammar-geek lives in Leeds, UK with her partner Steve and pet pig Gwen.