The Grammar Hall of Shame

Boy, if there’s one thing that gets Public Radio types in a lather, it’s the misuse of the English language.

NPR today has released its Grammar Hall of Shame.

10. Not answering “thank you” with “you’re welcome.” This one’s probably more about etiquette than grammar. But responses such as “no problem,” “sure” or “thank you” go against what many in the NPR audience say were taught.

9. Saying someone “graduated college” instead of “graduated from college.” A college graduates a student, not the other way around. The “from” makes a big difference.

8. The chronic misuse of “lay” and “lie.” Remember, you lie down to sleep after laying your book on the bedside table. Also, tell the dog to “lie down” and sing “Lie Down Sally.”

7. Referring to anything as “very unique.” Either it’s unique or it’s not.

6. Claiming something “begs the question.” You almost always mean it “raises the question.” Aristotle would not know what you are talking about.

5. Ongoing confusion over “who” vs. “whom.” Grammar Girl’s “quick and dirty trick” is this: “When you’re trying to decide whether to use ‘who’ or ‘whom,’ ask yourself if the answer to the question would be ‘he’ or ‘him.’ ” If it’s “he,” use “who.” If it’s “him,” use “whom.” Yes, that means the song’s title should be “Whom Do You Love?”

4. “Literally.” We are … tired of hearing that word, especially since the thing we say is “literally” happening often isn’t. Are you literally starving or just hungry?

3. Using the word “impacted” as a synonym for “affected.” Some uses just shouldn’t wander over from the business world into everyday life, the audience says.

2. “So.” Please, please stop starting sentences with that word!

1. “I” and “me” — the most-complained-about misuse. In an “NPR Grammar Hall of Shame,” those little words would be the first entrants. We received more than 30 messages just about them. How many times a day do you hear someone say “she and me” instead of “she and I”? Or, even worse, “her and me”? It’s as if Peter Pan’s Lost Boys have taken over. (If you don’t get that reference, listen to “I Won’t Grow Up” and Wendy’s failed attempts to get the lads to say “not I” instead of “not me.”)

I’ll second #6. Missing from the list — and also heard on Twin Cities local television today — was “pre-planning.” We would also include “notoriety” as a grating misused word, but not as grating as WCCO’s promotion “this is not a coincidence” it only says one event — more people tune to WCCO — is what is not a coincidence. Technically, it’s true, of course. That more people turn to WCCO is not a coincidence. It’s not anything, really, except for a statement.

But back to NPR. What’d they miss?