More of Mary’s Grammar Gripes

School is finally in session for everybody, so I’ve been inspired to inflict upon you another one of my grammar teacher wannabe lessons. These pointers come not from formal education as a teacher,, but from observations I’ve made while listening to conversations and ads and reports on TV. It’s getting to the point where if I hear the correct use of the pronoun “me,” I want to write in and say “good job. You paid attention in eighth grade English class.”

Here are some phrases that have set my teeth on edge over the past month.

“I remember him saying….” In this phrase, the object of the verb is “him,” but it should be “his saying,” with “saying” being the object, and “his” being the modifier.” This mistake often shows up with “I appreciate you participating.” It should be “your participating,” because it’s not that I appreciate you, but I appreciate that you participated. So again, the object of that sentence is “participating,” and”your” is the modifier. It’s just as easy to say “your” as “you,” so even saving time is a poor excuse for incorrect grammar here.

This next one is a personal peeve, and I might even be completely wrong about it, but it bothers me, and this is my blog, so here it is. Shouldn’t the past tense of “text “be “texted?” So many people say “text” as if that were the past tense of “text,” which of course is wrong. I just checked with Alexa, and she agrees with me. *****

Here’s one that we often addressed in Toastmasters. A book is not “entitled.” It might sound more sophisticated to you, but it’s wrong. You are “entitled” to your own opinion, or you have ownership, but a book is “titled.” that is, it has a “title.”

I had a sort of argument about this one with a friend, only because he thinks that rule has changed. It’s about “fewer” and “less.” If a quantity can be counted, it’s “fewer than,” not “less than.” e.g. “If we have fewer than 5 people present, we can’t take a vote.” Please don’t say “If we have less than 5 people present….” If the quantity can be measured but not counted, you can say, “If you have less sugar in the batter than the recipe calls for….”

Here’s the last one I’ll pester you with today. It has to do with subject verb agreement. Say “Neither of us has a college degree,” not “Neither of us have a college degree.” Remember that “us” is not the subject. (Us can never be the subject.) So it does not require a verb that agrees with a plural subject. The subject in that sentence is “neither,” which is a singular subject. Thus the bare bones of that sentence looks like this. “Neither has degree” —subject, verb, object. On the other hand, if you are saying something about both of us, you should say “Both of us have a college degree,” because both is a plural noun, and “have” goes with the plural noun.

When I put this page through spell check, it practically went crazy. I hope it didn’t make corrections where I didn’t want it to.

Oh darn. I’m almost to the end of the page, so it’s time for me to quit for today, and I was having so much fun. But never fear. I always have an ear out for grammar goofs. Do you have one you’d like to share? Bring it on.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at


3 thoughts on “More of Mary’s Grammar Gripes

  1. Mary, as one who has plenty of his own grammatical fetishes, I love these lessons. Can you tell me which is correct: “More importantly” or “more important?”

  2. My biggest grammar pet peeve is incorrect usage of the words “lay” and “lie.” When my husband Bill was alive, and I was his caregiver, we struggled with this all the time. He would ask me if he could lay down. I would tell him no, that I could lay him down, or he could lie down, but he could not lay down.

    Before I married Bill and became his caregiver, I was a registered music therapist, working with senior citizens in nursing homes and other facilities. If I had a dollar for every time a certified nursing assistant asked a resident if he or she was ready to lay down, I would be rich enough to buy my own nursing home, and the first thing I would do would be to conduct a mandatory in-service on proper grammar usage. If, God forbid, I end up in a nursing home, and I’m asked if I’m ready to lay down, I will not hesitate to correct the person asking me that question.

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