I have a confession to make. My name is Jo and I am a Grammar Nazi. Yes, I am. I'm not very proud of it, but I am a Grammar Nazi. I come by it naturally, however. When I was growing up, whenever my brothers and I spoke incorrectly, we could hear my father's voice booming from somewhere in the house, "Speak the Queen's English!" I remember when my brother was in his teens, he thought he would be edgy and use the word "ain't". We were all sitting at the kitchen table at the time, and my father brought his hand down on the table, accidentally gave it a karate chop and split the table right in half. One half of the table went east and the other half went west. My brother headed south out the kitchen door and I think he's still running. My mother, who was standing beside the kitchen sink, turned around and very coolly said to my father, "Oh, Harold..." And then we all collapsed into a fit of laughter.
Lately I have been reading some of the CNN, New York Times and Huffington Post blogs regarding various topical issues and current events. There are some extremely well-read, well-informed, intelligent people out there, and it's fun to read everyone's varying perspectives. But almost as a constant thread through all of the posts are three of my pet-peeves. One is "should of", "could of" or "would of". Think about it. That doesn't even make sense. What does it even mean? The correct way is "should have", "could have" or "would have". It's easy to see how it happens, though. In the spoken language, we speak in contractions, so "should have" becomes "should've", which becomes "should of".
My second pet peeve is "should have went", or "could have went" or "would have went". How did that even become part of the English language? When did that happen? My poor father would be having an apoplectic fit if he were to hear "should have went". The correct way is "should have gone". I "went" to the park, but I "should have gone" to the store. Please, no more "would have went". Or worse, "would of went". It makes my brain hurt.
My third pet peeve ... *sigh* ... "Susan gave the book to Mary and I." To me, that is like fingernails on a blackboard and unfortunately it has crossed over into the mainstream now. I hear newscasters on national television using it, and I cringe every time I hear it. It's basic grade six English. "Mary and I gave Susan the book." "Susan gave the book to Mary and me." It's okay to say "me", folks. It's actually correct. Me, together with Mary, forms the object of the preposition "to", so you need to use the pronoun "me" rather than the pronoun "I". You wouldn't say "Susan gave the book to I."
I know the English language is fluid and it constantly changes. New words are introduced all the time, and that's the beauty of it. But I believe the basic rules remain the same, and they do reflect on all of us. My grandfather used to say that we can fit into any society if our shoes are polished and we speak properly.
My name is Jo and I'm a Grammar Nazi.