Aaargh! The grammar nazi rants…

Okay, people, listen up–the next time I read something in LiveJournal, on a newsgroup, or in an email that makes one of these mistakes, someone’s getting stabbed. Fair warning.

1. It’s “Lo and behold,” not “low and behold.” The word “lo!” is a Middle English expression of surprise. “Lo and behold” is kind of the equivalent of saying “Well, hey, look at that!”

2. It’s “Nothing fazes me,” not “nothing phases me.” To “faze” is to disturb or frighten. “She was unfazed” means “she retained her composure.” “He was unphased” means “he was not made of a number of waveforms that were in synchronization.” Big difference, folks.

3. It’s “etc,” not “ect.” “Etc” is an abbreviation for “et cetera” (two words), which is Latin for “and so forth.” “Et” means “and,” which is why “etc” is sometimes written “&c”. “Etc” is correct. “&c” is correct but archaic. “Ect” is not, never has been, and never will be correct.

4. The abbreviations “ie” and “eg” do not mean the same thing! You use “ie” when you mean “in orther words.” It’s Latin for “id est,” which means “that is.” For example: “He is a businessman; ie, he makes his money by operating a business.” On the other hand, “eg” is used to mean “for example.” It’s Latin for “exempli gratia.” “I do not like spectator sports–eg, football and baseball.” For example: eg. In other words: ie.

5. And while we’re at it, “insure” and “ensure” do not mean the same thing either! “Ensure” means “to make sure of.” Double-check your math on your tax return to ensure you don’t get an embarrassing phone call from the IRS. “Insure,” on the other hand, means “to provide insurance for,” you insure your house in order to ensure that you won’t be financially ruined if it burns down.

6. To be caught “between the devil and the deep blue sea” does not mean “between two unattractive options.” It means “to be in a position where you have no room to manuver.” The ‘devil’ on a wooden sailing ship is the main spar of the ship–a brace that runs the whole length of the ship from front to back, around which the frame of the ship is built. There is a very narrow space–typically less than 3′ high–between a ship’s devil and the bottom of the hull; this was sometimes the space where the most lowly members of a ship’s crew slept–“between the devil and the deep blue sea.” It’s a very, very tiny space.

7. “Too” means “also” or “to a great extent.” “To” means “in the direction of” or indicates an infinitive. Get these two wrong, and you might end up in the position of the unfortunate street racer I saw yesterday whose vanity license tag reads “TO L8 4U”. “2 L8 4U” or “TOO L8 4U” would’ve communicated the idea that he was trying to convey; the idea conveyed by “TO L8 4U” is “Hi! I’m illiterate.”

Don’t even get me started on “accept” and “except,” or “affect” and “effect.”

Any typos in this post are a feature, not a bug. We now return you to your regularly scheduled friends list.