Now I accept that I may be pickier than most when it comes to grammar (yes, that’s grammAR, not grammER) but there are few things that annoy me more than a text full of misspellings, bad grammar and slang.
Thankfully I’m not alone. Carol Walker, head mistress of the Sacred Heart Primary School in Middlesbrough, has demanded that her pupils moderate their Teesside accents and conform to the “accepted” conventions of the English language, it was reported this week. Examples such as “ gizit ‘ere”, “it’s nowt” and “I done that” have all been banned in an attempt to improve her pupils’ chances in life – and their chances of being understood by anyone beyond a 10-mile radius of their home town. And quite right too. But the problem extends far deeper than regional colloquialisms to the millions of people who persist in making primary school errors on everything from printed signs and brochures to legal documents and university dissertations.
The most common errors are dealt with in the junior school curriculum, so why do so many people simply fail to get it? Grammar gaffes and bad English make my blood boil and my list of pet hates is long, but here is my top 10, to be consigned to Room 101 without so much as an apostrophe for company.
- “There”, “They’re” and “Their” – there’s just no need to get it wrong
- “Let’s eat, baby” or “Let’s eat baby” – a whole world of difference
- “Could of”, “Would of”, “Should of” – surely you should have learnt that these are incorrect?
- “Did I do good?” – bad English AND a typical Americanism. Unforgivable combination
- “I am nauseous” – indeed you are making me feel rather queasy
- “Program”, “Aluminum”, “Color” – enough to make me lose my sense of humour
- “The media are…” – collective noun most commonly misused by…. the media
- “Ain’t” – just don’t get me started
- “It’s” or “Its” – either it is or it isn’t
- “He comes from a very effluent area” – enough said.