I Know We Aren't All English Majors, But Good Grammar Is Hot.

This weekend I took a copy editing class at the request of my boss. It was a nice little refresher course (I was a copy editor for my college newspaper) and reminded me of a few pet peeves I would like to share.

Incessant exclamation points: For the love of all things punctuation, use exclamation points sparingly.  I understand that these punctuation marks have become more common in the digital age because it is harder to convey emotion through text. However, this phenomenon does not mean you need to use five of them at a time. It just makes you look ridiculous and for me, is a deal breaker. The same goes for question marks.

That and which: These words are NOT interchangeable. “That” should be used with restrictive clauses and “which” should be used with nonrestrictive phrases (also called essential and nonessential). How can you tell which is which? A nonrestrictive clause can be eliminated from a sentence without changing it’s meaning. And as long as we are on the subject, do NOT use a comma to separate a restrictive clause (that), but DO use a comma with a nonessential clause (which).

Redundant idioms: It seems these days people think the more words they use, the smarter they sound. Unless you are struggling to increase your word count on a term paper, I can’t stand the redundancy. Why say “manner of which” when “how” will suffice, or “over-exaggerate” when the meaning of the word “exaggerate” means to overstate? Can we over-overstate? No.

Adverb usage: Many people seem to be confused about adverbs. I can’t decide which is worse, not using them when needed or using them incorrectly. For instance, bad vs. badly. To say “I feel bad” expresses an emotion, whether sympathetic or not well. To say you feel “badly” implies there is something wrong with your sense of touch.

If you feel as strongly about good grammar as I do, you can order the shirt shown above here.


  1. These are great and in theory I agree but in practice I'm a total grammar slob. You would not approve. Great post!!!!!!!

  2. Come on now, nycifyouare. Did you skip over my rant about exclamation points? Or are you just being a smart ass? Come to think of it, I'll choose the ladder.