I know that I do not always spell perfectly. I know that I really don’t have a high horse on which to stand. But I can’t help it, crazy bad use of punctuation, really crappy grammar, and lame spelling makes me nuts.
I used to be especially fixated on misuse of punctuation marks. It’s rampant in Texas, but it happens everywhere, including our hotel in Belize:
What? Why emphasize “book activities” (<–see, right there it's correct because I'm quoting, see?) This makes my brain hurt. My favorite of all time was Rosie's Tamales on Oltorf St. in Austin. They had a big sign (for a couple of years) that said "NOW" Open. Even thinking about it gives me a headache. My latest obsession is apostrophes. People use them so artistically! For emphasis, just cause it looks cool, for anything except what they're intended for which is:
- To indicate the possessive:
This is Shaun’s tea towel. (The tea towel belongs to Shaun)
- To create a contraction:
That’s my tea towel. (That is my tea towel)
There is a tricky rule about using “it’s” that I often screw up. You must not the apostrophe for the possessive, but you do it for the contraction: “It’s a brand new day” (It is a brand new day).
So I know, lots of room to screw up, and as my editors (hi, Mom!) can tell you, I don’t always get it right either. But I’m not talking about your run of the mill its/it’s screw ups. It’s the artistic license with which people use those little marks that really grinds me down. My favorite local taco joint recently revamped their website, and while it was much improved, there were frequent references to “chili’s” on the menu. So I sent them an email:
Your new website is very nice, but you need to fix a spelling error on your menu. “chilies” (also can be spelled chiles or chilis) is plural, not possessive, so it’s incorrect to use an apostrophe (“chili’s” would mean “that which belongs to chili”).
They didn’t respond.
I fear that I’m fighting a losing battle here. But I have run across a couple of sympathetic people on the web:
I am so glad that there are other people out there like me. Let me know if you have any grammatical pet peeves, and feel free to correct mine.