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Top Ten Grammar Myths

March 4 is National Grammar Day. So I've created a special grammar-related top 10 show to celebrate the occasion.

By
Mignon Fogarty,
March 4, 2010
Episode #211

Page 2 of 2

Almost everyone believes at least one of these myths.

5. “I.e.” and “e.g.” mean the same thing. Wrong! “E.g.” means "for example," and “i.e.” means roughly "in other words." You use “e.g.” to provide a list of incomplete examples, and you use “i.e.” to provide a complete clarifying list or statement. (See episode 53 for more details.)

4. You use “a” before words that start with consonants and “an” before words that start with vowels. Wrong! You use “a” before words that start with consonant sounds and “an” before words that start with vowel sounds. So, you'd write that someone has an MBA instead of a MBA, because even though “MBA” starts with “m,” which is a consonant, it starts with the sound of the vowel “e”--MBA. (See episode 47 for more details.)

3. It's incorrect to answer the question "How are you?" with the statement "I'm good." Wrong! “Am” is a linking verb and linking verbs should be modified by adjectives such as “good.” Because “well” can also act as an adjective, it's also fine to answer "I'm well," but some grammarians believe "I'm well" should be used to talk about your health and not your general disposition. (See episode 51 for more details.)

2. You shouldn't split infinitives. Wrong! Nearly all grammarians want to boldly tell you it's OK to split infinitives. An infinitive is a two-word form of a verb. An example is "to tell." In a split infinitive, another word separates the two parts of the verb. "To boldly tell" is a split infinitive because “boldly” separates “to” from “tell.” (See episode 9 for more details.)

1. You shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition. Wrong! You shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition when the sentence would mean the same thing if you left off the preposition. That means "Where are you at?" is wrong because "Where are you?" means the same thing. But there are many sentences where the final preposition is part of a phrasal verb or is necessary to keep from making stuffy, stilted sentences: “I'm going to throw up,” “Let's kiss and make up,” and “What are you waiting for” are just a few examples.  (See episode 69 for more details.)

You can find more information about each of these myths in the Grammar Girl archives.

Grammar Girl iPhone App

If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, you can get even more great Grammar Girl audio content in our iPhone app. For a one-time fee of $1.99 you get an ad-free version of the podcast and an archive that includes exclusive bonus tracks. One bonus track is a music video I made for National Grammar Day.
 

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