There are some grammar mistakes that annoy the crap out of me, but others? I don’t give a fuck. In most of the following cases, so many people use the “wrong” word that it seems really nitpicky to get on anyone’s case about it. Others may be important to get right in academic writing, but not so much in everyday usage. Don’t worry, I’ll still tell you how to use the words properly even if I don’t particularly care if you do so!
Jesus tapdancing Christ on a cracker, I hate when people get pedantic about this one and say it’s incorrect to say you feel nauseous (especially since if you’re using the word, you’re probably already not in the best mood due to not feeling well). But it is correct to use the word that way! Dictionary.com has “affected with nausea; nauseated” as the first definition. Yes, the second definition is “causing nausea; sickening; nauseating,” which is what people try to argue is the only correct usage, but no one ever fucking uses it that way because saying nauseous when you mean nauseating sounds ridiculous. Next time someone tries to correct you on this one, feel free to tell them how wrong they are (and then puke on their shoes).
- I’m so nervous about seeing unicorns for the first time that I’m feeling totally nauseous.
Who vs. Whom
I probably ought to care about this one but… nope. Not in casual conversation, anyway. Most of the time who is correct, so you can pretty much default to that if you aren’t sure, because it sounds painfully awkward and pretentious if you use whom when you shouldn’t. Whom is the objective case; you should use it if the word is the object of a preposition or verb. The easiest way to remember it is to think about whether the sentence would make sense if you could substitute in or answer the question with him. (Or her; not being sexist here, just using the one that sounds similar so it’s easier to remember.) People usually mess this up if they put the preposition at the end of the phrase; “to whom did you give it?” is more correct than “who did you give it to?,” but “whom did you give it to?” just sounds awful.
- To whom did you speak about getting a tour of the unicorns’ palace? I talked to him, the guy who is standing by the door.
Lay Down vs. Lie Down
Honestly, I have never been able to keep these straight, which is why I refuse to judge anyone else who gets them wrong. But fine, I’ll look them up in case maybe my unicorn schtick will actually work on me. The usage note on Dictionary.com suggests that if you can substitute put in the sentence, you should use lay, because lay generally takes an object. Lie, meanwhile, takes no object; the subject itself is reclining rather than putting down something else. Of course, the past tense of this meaning of lie can be lay and oh fuck it, I quit.
- The unicorn wants to lay down his burden and lie down in a nice comfy bed to take a nap. Sounds good to me!
Supposedly vs. Supposably
I’ve been confused about these since Friends made a big deal about getting them wrong and then of course I couldn’t remember which one they were complaining about.
Yeah, well, suck it haters. They’re both real words! Most of the time you do want to use supposedly, which has the sense of “what people usually suppose.” Supposably means that it’s possible to suppose such a thing, which is almost never what people mean when they try to use it. Still, it’s really not that big a deal.
- Supposedly, unicorns love to visit waterfalls when there’s a full moon. No one’s really sure why, but supposably it could have to do with them liking how the moonlight reflects off the water.
So, technically irregardless is a double negative and thus shouldn’t really mean the same thing as regardless. But it passes the “yes, it’s really a word” test because if you say it, everyone knows what you mean. (You mean regardless.) It’s silly to call someone ignorant for using it because it’s been in common usage for a very long time. You maybe shouldn’t use it in formal writing because of the stigma against it, but in casual usage? Who cares!
- Irregardless of the difficulty of reaching their winter range, I’m determined to see how unicorns celebrate Christmas.
Could(n’t) Care Less
Again with the double negative screwing things up. Yeah, if you say you could care less, you are saying that you do care at least a little bit, whereas couldn’t care less more accurately says that it’s impossible for you to care less than you do, because you literally don’t care at all. But you know what they mean, so step off your damn high horse. (Besides, it’s fun to imagine that people are secretly signaling that they do care a little bit when they use the wrong version!)
- The unicorn doesn’t want to be my BFF? Fine, I could care less! (I’m secretly heartbroken, but I don’t want anyone to know that.)
Fun fact — this phrase has nothing to do with delicious snacks! The correct form is just deserts, as in, “just what they deserve.” If you’ve only ever heard the spoken phrase, of course you’d be more inclined to think of desserts because dry sandy deserts are pronounced differently. This is one that I’ll probably fix if I’m editing, but I’m not gonna think poorly of you for messing it up.
- If you say something mean about unicorns, one of these days you’ll get your just deserts and I won’t even feel sorry for you.
Check back next week for even more grammatically correct unicorns! If you want to catch up on previous lessons, check them out!
Note: This is for personal edification and entertainment only. Don’t be a dick about people who misuse these or any other words, especially on the internet — you have no way of knowing if they have a learning disability, made a simple typo, or just got screwed by autocorrect.
(Unless they’re making these mistakes while ranting about how everyone needs to speak English in ‘merica or are otherwise being an ignorant hypocrite about language usage. Then you have my permission to tell them how very wrong they are on all levels. With gusto. Make the unicorns proud!)
2 replies on “Better Language Through Unicorns, Part 4: IDGAF”
I’m discovering that I don’t know when to use matter/manner
(in an X manner) (matter?) and it’s bugging me.
There was an episode of Blossom in which she and Six argued about could(n’t) care less. I’ve been in search of that clip since the dawn of YouTube. Still haven’t found it.