The grammar Dalek

My name is Salvageable, and I am a grammar Dalek.

I resist the term grammar Nazi, because Nazis really existed in Earth history and really did some terrible things that led to death and suffering and destruction. In history classes, people need to be reminded of the Nazis. In talking about infinitives and prepositions, I prefer to think of Daleks, those monsters invented for the television show Doctor Who. They are pretty terrible as well, but at least the suffering and death and destruction they cause is only in a world of fiction, not in this real world.

As a grammar Dalek, I want to exterminate all sentences which end with prepositions. I realize that today’s English teachers say that prepositions are allowed to end sentences, but I disagree. Given a little time and imagination, any sentence ending with a preposition can be altered into a better sentence. Sorry, Obi-wan, but “These are not the droids you seek” is a better sentence.

As a grammar Dalek, I want to exterminate split infinitives. In most languages the infinitive form of the verb is one word, and no one would dream of sticking another word in the middle of that word. In English, some people feel that adverbs make a sentence stronger when placed in the middle of an infinitive. I know we’ve heard it hundreds of times and it’s hard to imagine the phrase being improved, but “to boldly go where no man has gone before” is just wrong.

As a grammar Dalek, I want people to use the words “less” and “fewer” correctly. If you can count the objects you are describing, a smaller number of objects are fewer. Only if you cannot count them is a smaller number less. You can drink less beer, but you should drink fewer glasses of beer.

As a grammar Dalek, I want people to stop using “literally” for emphasis. If you literally died of embarrassment, you would not be here to talk about it today.

As a grammar Dalek, I want people to learn the difference between “nauseous” and “nauseated.” That which causes nausea is nauseous, but the one feeling the nausea is nauseated. Granted, if you give in to the symptoms of nausea, you may nauseate me, meaning that you are both nauseated and nauseous. If, however, you are talking about your feelings and not my feelings, please stick with nauseated.

As a grammar Dalek, I want English-speaking people everywhere to know their pronouns. If you wouldn’t say, “Me went to the store,” why do you say, “Joe and me went to the store”? If you wouldn’t say, “A tree fell on I,” why do you say, “A tree fell on Joe and I”?

As a grammar Dalek, I strongly support the use of Oxford commas. In the sentence, “A tree fell on Billy, Joe, and me,” the comma between “Joe” and “and” is as important as any other comma in the sentence.

Clear communication begins with good grammar. If you want people to hear what you say, say it the right way. And let’s be careful out there.

J.

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