The Danger of Double Negatives

Have you ever asked someone what they think of your new dress and they say “Well, I don’t dislike it”? Or are you confused by what The Rolling Stones meant in their song “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”? If you answered yes, you have been subject to the confusion of the double negative. Double negatives occur when two forms of negation are present in the same sentence. Double negatives are like math; because there are two negatives, they cancel out to make the sentence positive. Take my first question for example. With this double negative, the goal of your friend is to avoid offending you because obviously they hate your dress. Saying “I don’t dislike it” would translate to “I like it” when you cancel out the negatives, but because the word “dislike” is prominent it doesn’t sound positive. Using this phrase implies that there are parts you like even if it’s untrue and is must less harsh than saying “I dislike it”, but implies you have some parts you dislike. I’ve had this phrase used on me and personally I would much rather someone be straightforward with me rather than sugar-coating their words with double negatives. Sometimes people use double negatives for effect, such as in my second question. When The Rolling Stones said “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, they really meant that they can’t get ANY satisfaction. If you translate the sentence by cancelling out the double negatives, it would become “I Can Get Satisfaction”, which I’m sure isn’t what The Rolling Stones wanted to say. I think that they just wanted to sound rough and tough by using “no” instead of “any”, but that just made them grammatically confusing. This was just a brief touch on double negatives, but I hope that everyone now knows how to check that their meaning is still intact when they use double negatives. This will be my last post, so I hope anyone who read this enjoyed my rants 🙂

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Texting, Slang, and Acronyms: Oh my!

One of the reasons for the evolution of language and the degeneration of grammar is because of a recently new technology called the cell phone, which brought about a new way to communicate called “texting”. Texting is highly influential on any language and is a contributing factor for the common grammatical errors that I mentioned in my previous posts. In my opinion, texting is both beneficial and hazardous. It increases the efficiency of exchanging messages, but because of the need for efficiency, we tend to create shortcuts that sometimes are grammatically incorrect. Also, this new “texting language” or “slang” has often seeped into our academic writing, making it harder to enforce grammar. For example, people shorten the phrases “got to” and “could have” into the words “gotta” and “coulda” just to decrease the time taken to send a message. These words are obviously not real, but because of the increased use of such words they have become prominent in written and spoken English language. People also misuse the forms of “there/their/they’re” and “your/you’re” quite frequently when texting because there is no way of being alerted that your spelling is wrong and most people read the text so fast they don’t even notice. “Autocorrect” can help with correcting spelling and punctuation, but it doesn’t correct grammar. If we rely on autocorrect, we will never learn to be accurate without it. We have also created acronyms such as “brb” to mean “be right back” or “lol” to mean “laugh out loud”. Although texting acronyms are meant to be solely for texting, I have noticed people using these acronyms in their oral communication. I found a website that I think is great for parents of tech-savvy children because all you do is type in the acronym such as “brb” into the box and click the button that says “Translate Slang” and it will tell you what the acronym stands for. There’s no need to study up on your acronyms now! If you are confused by a slang term, this website also has a tab with a large list of slang words commonly used in text messaging. Now you can know what your kids are really saying about you :p. Because we live in the age of technology, we must embrace the new terms and changes to language that texting brings. Although this is true, we must also embrace grammar and not compromise it just because it is inconvenient.

Because you’re TOO full, I will give TWO pieces of pie TO your sister

My title is my attempt to make a sentence that uses all three forms of to/too/two and hopefully shows the differences between them. Normally people mix up “to” and “too” and don’t often mix up “to” and “two” or “too” and “two”. I don’t know if this confusion is because people don’t realize the three forms are not interchangeable or they are too lazy to add or take away one letter. I want to distinguish between these three forms so people will stop making this annoying mistake. The word “two” is a cardinal (counting) number and identifies a set of things such as “two pieces of pie”. The word “to” is a preposition that is used to: a) express motion or direction (eg. I gave it to your sister); b) express limit of movement or extension (eg. He grew to 6 feet); c) express contact or contiguity (eg. I gave him a punch to the jaw); or d) express a point of limit in time (eg. I work from 9 to 5). The word “too” is an adverb that is used: a) as a synonym for “in addition” or “also” (eg. I like pie also); b) to show an excessive extent or degree (eg. I’m too full for pie); c) as an affirmative to contradict a negative statement (eg. I am too) or d) as a synonym for “extremely” or “very” (eg. She wasn’t too pleased with his behavior). As you can see, the three forms all have very different uses. All you have to remember  is that the word “two” is used as a number, the word “to” is used as a preposition, and the word “too” is used to show excess or in addition to something. If you can remember the uses of these words, then you will be able to figure out which one is appropriate in your sentence without doubt.

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A Brief List of Songs with Atrocious Grammar

I was thinking about how there are so many songs that are grammatically incorrect, so I decided to search the Internet to find some examples and I came across this man’s blog. After reading through his list of 20 songs with horrible grammar, I noticed that some of the songs use improper grammar for no reason at all. For example, in Queen’s song “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy”, the line “I’d like for you and I to go romancing” is grammatically incorrect when it doesn’t need to be. “I” and “me” are both one syllable, so they could be interchangeable. Also, the phase “you and I” is in the middle of the sentence and is not being used to rhyme such as in the song “Run to You”, therefore Queen could have and should have used “me” instead of “I”. Many artists use improper grammar because they want to make their song rhyme, but sometimes it is not necessary to be incorrect. Another example he brought up that is also baffling is when artists such as Dan Fogelberg mix up the simple past tense and the perfect tense. I think his mistake is pretty obvious and it would not have affected his message or the flow of the song if he had used the correct word. Also, this blogger mentioned that some artists make up words just to make their song rhyme, even when the words are completely incorrect. In Gwen Stefani’s song “Bubble Pop Electric”, she makes up the word “bestest” to rhyme with “restless” and in Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around”, he makes up the word “bleeded”. Gwen has shown she doesn’t understand that “best” is a gradable adjective and Justin has shown that he doesn’t know what the past tense of “bleed” is. I’m sure these artists could have found a way to rhyme without butchering grammar this severely. Although the grammatical errors this blogger previously brought up are cringe worthy, the error that irks me the most is the one in Timbaland’s song “The Way I Are”, because it is completely unnecessary to use “are” instead of “am” and it just makes the line sound awkward. I hope future songs do not overlook grammar as much as these songs do, but from the looks of it there isn’t much hope.

Why do people keep saying “I seen”?

Only one of my friends has a tendency to say this, so I’m not sure if this grammatical error is as common as I think it is. Even though it may not be common, this mistake is one we must eliminate because it shows we have no understanding of grammar and it makes us sound uneducated. I have heard people say “I seen” and it makes me cringe. How do people not realize it sounds completely incorrect? I can see why people could confuse “seen” and “saw”, because they are both used to describe the past. Although this is true, there is one major difference between the usages of these words. “Seen” must be preceded by the helper verb “to have” whereas “saw” is never preceded by this helper verb. This would make the phrase become “I have seen”, which sounds correct. We must remember that “seen” is a past participle and used in the perfect tense while “saw” is used in the simple past. We cannot interchange the two because of the need for the helper verb. The difference between these two words may be hard to remember for some people, but if we familiarize ourselves with the various verb tenses we will be able to recognize which word is correct to apply.

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“Than” vs. “Then”

This blog is a gold mine! The author has addressed yet another common grammatical error and distinguished between the two commonly mixed up words with ease and clarity. I don’t have an issue with these words anymore, but I did when I was younger. If I had seen this back then, I would have learned the difference much faster. The problem with these words is that they are supposed to have distinct sounds, (a hard “a” sound for the word “than” and a hard “e” sound for the word “then”) but people often make then words sound the same. This makes it difficult to distinguish between the two when having an oral conversation, which in turn makes it difficult to choose which one to use in written communication. Luckily, this blogger has come up with an easy method to remember in which contexts to use these words. Even though we know our message will get across regardless of whether or not we use the correct word, it is important to think carefully about whether or not we are correct. If we give in to our laziness, this error will contribute to the deterioration of our grammar and cause the rapid loss of our structured language that we must strive to uphold. 

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“Who” vs. “Whom”

I was reading through this woman’s blog and I couldn’t have shown the distinction between “who” and “whom” better myself.  Now whenever I think of one episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Penny is saying “Who do we love!” while Sheldon is doing his door knocking routine, I can’t help but cringe because she is using the wrong pronoun. I hope you are familiar with this episode, or at least with the show, or else this reference will not make sense and I will look silly.