Grammar Cats Offer Assistance to the Grammatically Oppressed and Confused

Irritable Grammar Cat challenges the premise that all cats are incapable of using proper grammar. (Even LOLchat a.k.a. Catois has its own grammatical rules based on CORRECT English grammar. You have to know the rules to break them properly for the LULZ.)

GRAMMA–Your mother or father’s maternal parent
GRAMMAR–Proper use of your native language
GRAMMER–Kelsey Grammer was an actor on “Cheers” and “Frasier”.

YOUR–Possessive. Something you own. “Is that your book?”
YOURS–Note that this does not have an apostrophe. “No, that book is yours.”
YOU’RE–Contraction. Shortened form of YOU ARE. “You’re not into grammar?”
YORE–Time long past. “Back in the days of yore, King Arthur spoke with pond-dwelling watery tarts.”

LOSER–Not a winner.
LOOSER–Less tight than before.
LUSER–Internet slang for someone who cannot properly use a computer.
LOSE–“Lose” is pronounced “looze.” It means “to misplace,” as in “I always lose my car keys,” or “to be defeated,” as in “We will lose the game without Bob.”
LOOSE–“Loose” means “not tight” (“This shirt is too loose on me”), or “not confined” (“The ferret got loose when the door on his kennel broke”).

BARE: Naked. “Please bare with me, we need more naked people for our streaking prank.”
BEAR: Either a large, carnivorous furry mammal known to defecate in woods (if a noun) or a verb with a similar meaning as “endure.” “I don’t know how much longer I can bear this bear gnawing my face off.”

Apostrophe Cat is never used to make plural Apostrophe Cats. Apostrophe Cat also deplores the use of “greengrocer’s quotes” for emphasis.

ITS–Possessive. “The tree shed its leaves.”
IT’S–Contraction. Shortened form of IT IS. “It’s a shame about Ray.”

See, the word “it” is not a noun. It’s a pronoun! Pronouns never, ever, ever get an apostrophe to indicate possession. Think about it: You don’t say “mi’ne” or “hi’s”, so you DO NOT say “your’s” or “it’s” or “her’s” to indicate possession. If you get confused, take out the apostrophe in “it’s” and put in the letter or letters the apostrophe is replacing, e.g., “it is.” If the sentence makes no sense, don’t use the apostrophe.

THERE–Location. “It’s not here, it’s there.”
THEY’RE–Contraction. Shortened form of THEY ARE. “They’re driving me crazy with the bad grammar.”
THEIR–Possessive. “Their inability to use simple words properly is annoying.”

DIABEETUS Grammar Cat points out that your snarky comment is not nearly as clever if it is ungrammatical.

When to use LESS: When you can’t precisely count the amount. “He has less courage than she does.”
When to use FEWER: When you can. It should be “10 items or FEWER” at your grocery store. “She has fewer demerits than I do.”

When to use “I” or “Me”:
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Bob and I enjoy reading books”, then you use “I”. If the sentence still makes sense after removing “Bob and”, then you did it right. “Me enjoy reading books” is only right if you are Cookie Monster.
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Susan gave books to Bob and me,” then you use “me.” If the sentence still makes sense after removing “Bob and”, then you did
it right. “Susan gave books to I” is incorrect.

When to use “We” or “Us”:
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit the noun following the “we”, e.g., “We teachers enjoy reading books” vs. “We enjoy reading books”, then you use “we”. The sentence still makes sense after removing “teachers”, so you did it right. “Us enjoy reading books” is incorrect.
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Susan gave books to the teachers and us,” then you use “us.” If the sentence still makes sense after removing “the teachers and”, then you did it right. “Susan gave books to we” is incorrect.

THEN: Then is used either as a time marker (“Back then we knew what was expected of us.”) or with a sequence of events (“If you misuse these words, then you look unintelligent.”)
THAN: Unlike then, than is not related to time. Than is used in comparative statements. “He is taller than I am.”

AFFECT: Affect with an a means “to influence,” as in, “The rain affected Amy’s hairdo.” Affect can also mean, roughly, “to act in a way that you don’t feel,” as in, “She affected an air of superiority.”
EFFECT: Effect with an e has a lot of subtle meanings as a noun, but to me the meaning “a result” seems to be at the core of all the definitions. For example, you can say, “The effect was eye-popping,” or “The sound effects were amazing,” or “The rain had no effect on Amy’s hairdo.”

Generally speaking, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. When you affect something, you produce an effect on it. Even in the passive voice, something would be affected, not effected. (The exceptions to the rule: As a verb, effect means to execute, produce, or accomplish something; as a noun, affect is used primarily by psychologists to refer to feelings and desires as factors in thought or conduct.)

ACCEPT: Accept is a verb meaning to receive.
EXCEPT: Except is usually a preposition meaning excluding. “I will accept all the packages except that one.” Except is also a verb meaning to exclude. “Please except that item from the list.”

ALLUSION: An Allusion is an indirect reference. “Did you catch my allusion to Shakespeare?”
ILLUSION: An illusion is a misconception or false impression. “Mirrors give the room an illusion of depth.”

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a cat…especially if you are a Grammar Cat.

WHOM: Use whom when you are referring to the object of a sentence. For example, it is “Whom did you step on?” if you are trying to figure out that I had squished Squiggly the caterpillar. Similarly, it would be “Whom do I love?” because you are asking about the object — the target of my love. I know, it’s shocking, but the Rolling Stones were being grammatically incorrect when they belted out the song “Who Do You Love?”
THE WHO: A great band.
WHO: Two correct sentences are “Who loves you?” and “Who stepped on the caterpillar?” In both these cases the one you are asking about is the subject — the one taking action, not the one being acted upon.

More on WHO vs. WHOM: My friend Regina has an even easier PROTIP. “If you can use him/her, use whom. If you can use he/she, use who. IOW, reconfigure the sentence into a statement. “Whom did you step on?” becomes “I stepped on him,” NOT “I stepped on he.” So, whom is correct in the sentence. (This is how I remember it! I know you said the same thing, but the grammar-challenged may not understand tricky phrases like “subject” and “object” in regard to sentence structure.)”

FARTHER: Use “farther” for physical distance. It’s easy to remember because “farther” has the word “far” in it, and“far” obviously relates to physical distance.
FATHER: Dear old Dad.
FURTHER: Use “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance.
FURTHERMORE: Use “furthermore” when you mean “in addition.”

TO: To is a preposition. “I am going to work.”
TOO: Too is an adverb. Try substituting “also” and see if it still makes sense. “She is going to work, too.”
TWO: Two is a number. “Two of us are going to work today.”

BREAK: You use this when you take a break at work or when you break something.
BRAKE: The pedal in your car that makes the car stop.

PEAK: A peak is a summit.
PEEK: A peek is a glimpse.
PIQUE: This s a French word meaning “prick,” in the sense of “stimulate.” Therefore the expression is “my curiosity was piqued.” If someone reacts badly because their pride is hurt, this is a “fit of pique”.

VILA: Bob Vila will help you with your home repairs.
VILLA: A fancy home.
VIOLA: Tiny violin-like instrument.
VOILA: French for “Here it is!” This is probably the word you want.
WA LA or WAH LAH: Just…no. No. WRONG. Stop that.
WALLA: A Hindi word used in UK slang as a suffix to mean “takes care of”: i.e., a dishwalla is a person who washes the dishes.
WALLA WALLA: A town in the state of Washington.

THE REASON WHY: Just flat wrong, It does NOT mean “That is why.” Redundant.
HENCE WHY: Just flat WRONG. It does NOT mean “That is why.” Redundant.
HENSE: Graffiti artist based in Atlanta.
HENCE: Hence is used in a couple of ways. First, it can mean away from this place or away from this time: “Get thee hence,” or “We’ll meet again two weeks hence.” It can also mean “therefore” or “as a result”. So you could say “It was raining, which is why I got wet,” OR “It was raining; hence, I got wet.”

Grammar Nazi Cat has been forced to retaliate by taking an authoritarian stance after years of frustration spawned by scores of Internet users’ illiteracy.


Confused about LAY vs. LIE? Lie is an intransitive verb meaning “to recline or rest on a surface”. Its principal parts are “lie, lay, lain”. Lay is a transitive verb meaning “to put or place”. Its principal parts are “lay, laid”. Hint: “Chickens lay eggs”. “I lie down when I am tired.” Still confused? You need advanced help:

SET, SIT: “Set” is a transitive verb meaning “to put or to place”. Its principal parts are “set, set, set”. “Sit” is an intransitive verb meaning “to be seated”. Its principal parts are “sit, sat, sat”. “She set the dough in a warm corner of the kitchen.” “The cat sat in the warmest part of the room.”

WHO, WHICH, THAT: Do not use “which” to refer to persons. Use “who” instead. “That”, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to a group or class of people. “I just saw a boy who was wearing a yellow banana costume.” “I have to go to math next, which is my hardest class.” “Where is the book that I was reading?”

WHO’s: Means “who is.”
WHOSE: Possessive. “Whose shoes are these?” means “To whom do these shoes belong?” or “Who owns these shoes?”

SEGUE: It is pronounced “seg-way.”

COULD HAVE / COULD’VE: Not “could of.” “Could’ve” is risky, use it carefully.
SHOULD HAVE / SHOULD’VE: Not “should of.” “Should’ve” is risky, use it carefully.
WOULD HAVE / WOULD’VE: Not “would of.” “Would’ve” is risky, use it carefully.

SUPPOSED TO: Do not omit the “d”. “Suppose to” is incorrect.
USED TO: Same as above. Do not write “use to”.

IN REGARD TO / WITH REGARD TO: Please note that there is no “s” in “regard”.
REGARDS: A nice way to sign off a letter. (Please observe that the “T” is close to the “G” on your keyboard: proofread before you send your note.)

TOWARD: There is no “s” at the end of the word.
ANYWAY: Also has no ending “s”. “Anyways” is nonstandard.

COULDN’T CARE LESS: Be sure to make it negative. (Not “I could care less”.)

ALL WALKS OF LIFE: Not “woks of life”. This phrase does not apply to Asian cuisine.

ORIENTAL: Refers to things from Asia, like rugs, not people.
ASIAN: People from Asia.

CHEST OF DRAWERS: Not “chester drawers”.

PEDESTAL: Not “petal stool” or “pedal stool”.
PEDAL: The little doohickeys you press with your feet in your car.
PETAL: Part of a flower.

LADDER: A thing you climb. It has rungs.
LATTER: When referring to two things, one is the former (or first), and one is the latter (or last).

SHUTTER: A hinged wooden window covering.
SHUDDER: To briefly shake oneself violently. “I shudder to think.”

FAUX PAS: Means “false step,” and you make a faux pas when you spell it incorrectly. Just sayin’.

FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES: Not “intensive purposes”.

PER SE: It is not “per say.” (Don’t use “per se” if you can’t define or spell it properly.)

Hope this helps.

High Five Grammar Cat offers congratulations.


5 thoughts on “Grammar Cats Offer Assistance to the Grammatically Oppressed and Confused

  1. wonderbink says:

    BARE: Naked. “Please bare with me, we need more naked people for our streaking prank.”

    Erm, I don’t think ‘bare’ works as a verb that way, unless you’re shooting for a deliberate pun. I’ve heard “bare your teeth” or “bare your chest” but “bare with me” is the kind of mistake you see pointed out as a bad misspelling from the slush pile.

  2. Neurite says:

    Nitpick: A viola is not a tiny instrument. A viola is, indeed, somewhat bigger than a violin.

  3. psmears says:

    Nice site 🙂 One comment though:

    “TOWARD: There is no “s” at the end of the word.”

    Actually both “toward” and “towards” are correct (though “toward” is more common in the US, and “towards” more common elsewhere e.g. in the UK).

    The “toward” version is a corruption of the original preposition, which does have the “s” (though this is in turn derived from the adjective “toward” – i.e. the opposite of “untoward”).

    See the following dictionaries for evidence:

  4. desireelujan says:

    Lovely post. As a violist, though, I have to point out that violas are, in fact, decidedly un-tiny, unless your only reference point is a double bass. They are larger than violins by quite a bit. Thanks!

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