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Spelling and Grammar Q&A

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"I used to drive my ..."

This "used to" usage DRIVES ME NUTS.

Alright, I'll plead ignorance on this one. I know that's wrong, but what's the alternative?

I used to think that "used to" could be used that way.

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I formerly drove...

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Yaaaarrrg, that seems so obvious.

I used to use "used to", but now I'll use "formerly".

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It is actually quite correct to simply leave it all out, as in, "I drove..."

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Both of these are rather 'down-home' constructions, but I catch them cropping up in otherwise reasonably intelligent work:

"If I would have noticed that..."

and

"That wood needs chopped."

Lousy constructions, both.

cheers!

aj

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Lousy constructions, both.  

Speaking of peeves, Mother used to punish us for saying words like 'lousy' or 'crap'. You people just have no 'home training'.

A lot of these words and phrases are just collequialisms, not necessarily wrong, in context. And don't any of you write internal or spoken dialogue? Sheesh.

Kisses...

TR

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Stout Scarab:  How about THIS travesty:  

"I could of done that...."  

Kill me now. Please.

Could you be mis-transcribing from the conversational "I could HAVE done that..." also pronounced "I could've done that..." ???

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Stout Scarab could have been mis-transcribing, but I doubt it. I have seen that usage in actual print, and not as supposed internal thoughts either. :: shudder ::

The word lousy comes from louse (lice pl.) and really should be spoken as "louse E" rather than the more commonly used "L Ow Zee". It is hard to represent spoken language in some kind of intelligible printed form, isn't it? If 'lousy' were to be used in the correct way, even marginally, as to mean bug infested, it would be quite fine with me, but if someone says "I had a lousy day" without having a bug on him, I know what is meant, but still find the usage irritating.

As for 'crap', I really cannot consider it any better or worse than 'shit' although 'excrement' would be more acceptable in polite company. In REALLY polite company the whole issue (sorry, bad pun?) would be avoided (sorry, I'm on a roll) altogether. :twisted:

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Stout Scarab:  How about THIS travesty:  

"I could of done that...."  

Kill me now. Please.

Could you be mis-transcribing from the conversational "I could HAVE done that..." also pronounced "I could've done that..." ???

Nope, Ty of StormFront does this numerous times. Drives me nuts. But not being his editor I don't tell him :)

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Stout Scarab:  Nope, Ty of StormFront does this numerous times. Drives me nuts. But not being his editor I don't tell him :)

sigh... Tyrel doesn't use an editor but does pretty well for a New Zealander living in Australia... He probably picked it up when visiting the States and mis-transcribed it into Storm Front himself.

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I really don't see why there should be a problem with "used to," as in "I used to drive an Isetta, but now I have a Yugo."

Saying simply, "I drove an Isetta..." could imply a one-time occurrence.

"I formerly drove an Isetta..." conveys more formal, perhaps even pretentious, speech. OK, if that's what you intend. There are other constructions one could use that avoid the problems of either of these but why? "Used to" strikes me as perfectly acceptable in informal speech.

The two references to "used to" in my 1959-vintage Perrin's Writer's Guide and Index to English merely exhort one to avoid the misspelling "use to," but make no reproof against its usage in general. Indeed, I don't recall encountering any admontions prior to this.

As a side note, I decided to check Perrin on what used to be a minor pet peeve of mine, alright vs. all right. Here's what it says:

"All right is the spelling of both the adjectival phrase (He is all right) and the sentence adverb, meaning "yes, certainly" (All right, I'll come).

"Alright is a natural analogy with altogether and already but is found only in advertising, in unedited writings, and, rarely, in fiction. It will be worth watching to see if alright makes its way into general English. In the meantime, be on your guard."

Prophetic words indeed. As my personal vintage predates even that of Perrin, "alright" triggers a reflexive sense of semi-illiteracy whenever I come across it. Obviously, evolving usage has passed me by.

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"All right is the spelling of both the adjectival phrase (He is all right) and the sentence adverb, meaning "yes, certainly" (All right, I'll come).

"Alright is a natural analogy with altogether and already but is found only in advertising, in unedited writings, and, rarely, in fiction. It will be worth watching to see if alright makes its way into general English. In the meantime, be on your guard."

Prophetic words indeed. As my personal vintage predates even that of Perrin, "alright" triggers a reflexive sense of semi-illiteracy whenever I come across it. Obviously, evolving usage has passed me by.

Ummm....

Okay, now I know why every editor keeps changing "alright" to "all right" whenever they see it. I quite like "alright" but I suppose it's time for it to go the way of the Dodo.

Semi-illiteracy, here I come... :oops:

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"I used to drive" is fine. It's only wrong if one says, "I use to drive." :shudder:

:eek: Yes, "could / would / should of" shouldn't use "of." It should use "have" or "-'ve," as in, "could / would / should have" or "could've, would've, should've." These use auxiliary verbs: "could / would / should" + "have" + verb.past_participle. Example: "He should've knocked before entering."

In informal spoken dialogue, I'd accept "coulda, woulda, shoulda" or "gotta" or "gonna" or "gotcha," where the "-a" replaces "-'ve" or "to" or "you." But I wouldn't accept it in formal dialogue or in the narrative or exposition. That's an issue of level of usage and of recording dialect levels.

It's alright to spell it, "alright," except when it's all right.

Um, where I'm from, it's pronounced /lowz'-ee/ instead of /lowss'-ee/. The ss/zz pronunciation differs by regional dialect. I also say, /gree'-zee/ and /howz'-ehz/. I don't mind using "lousy" when something's bad, but perhaps that's just nitpicking, so to speak. ;)

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Stout Scarab: How about THIS travesty:

"I could of done that...."

Kill me now. Please.

Could you be mis-transcribing from the conversational "I could HAVE done that..." also pronounced "I could've done that..." ???

If someone writes that, I maintain the Death penalty is not severe enough. If it's spoken one can assume they were saying could've. In fact COULD OF is just an ignorant person saying/writing COULD HAVE. It's the basis of THEIR/THEY'RE as well. Just 'cause you hear it that way doesn't mean you write it that way.

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Yes Blue I agree.

I checked with an elderly English school teacher (here in South Australia) and she was emphatic that "used" was perfectly acceptable and was common usage for many years.

As for the could've etc., a thousand thank yous for spelling it out for us. I get very agitated whenever I read *could of*.

It is interesting that your local ss sound becomes zz as my name has always been pronounced Dez, but I do not know anyone who says yez instead of yes.

Lousy locally means that you are infected with lice, whereas louzy means you a nasty, miserly SOB with an added conotation of deprivation.

Is it any wonder that computers can't understand us even when we yell at them?

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:chuckles: Welcome again, Des.

Aha, that ss/zz bit varies by region in the US (and other English-speaking countries). Where I am, you're about as likely to hear an ss as a zz, in certain words, due to people moving in and out, probably. I've always heard it as "Dezz-mund," but "Wess-lee" or "Wezz-lee" and "Less-lee" or "Lezz-lee."

BTW, a few editors and writers are good with International English spelling. -- If I'm not familiar with a word or phrase in some dialect, I try to ask an author for an explanation, esp. if I'm ediitng for the author.

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Yea instead of yeah.

This one seems to be so common it's almost as if it's become a convention of net fiction. Whenever I see a character saying "yea" I feel myself being thrust back into time, when knighthood was in flower and damsels were being rescued from dragons. I expect the conversation to proceed with "verilys" and "forsooths" abounding.

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Yea instead of yeah.

I expect the conversation to proceed with "verilys" and "forsooths" abounding.

Heaven forfend!

or

Heaven forefend! :angel7:

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The correct standard:

Yeah (short a) = informal yes. "Yeah, dude, I agree."

Yea (long a) = formal yes for voting; archaic form of yes. "All those in favor, vote, 'yea.' All opposed, vote 'nay.'" "Yea, verily, I say unto thee...."

To complicate matters, not all dictionaries or spell checkers list "yeah." It's been that way for years. Most of my teachers insisted on "yeah," when they weren't counting off if someone used it in formal writing. But a few insisted that it be spelled, "yea."

You see it more often on the web, because people tend to edit for themselves. I see it in client work too, because it's unedited. I've also had people insist on a spelling, but that's very rare.

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I was taught that either was acceptable as long as you're consistent. I've always prefered yea and have no plans on changing. to me yeah looks like something a cowboy with a speech impediment would say.

Codey

Oh yea, for those non-cowboys. Yeah is the way he would say yee haw :D

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yeah looks like something a cowboy with a speech impediment would say.

Yeah, well, my knight can beat up your cowboy, so there. :D

Language evolves; maybe that's what we're seeing here.

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I've always prefered yea and have no plans on changing. to me yeah looks like something a cowboy with a speech impediment would say.

Willie Nelson resembles that remark!

:lol:

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Riddle: What do knights and cowboys have in common, besides being ahorse a horse, of course, Mr. Ed(itor)?

...

...

...

Give up?

...

...

...

Answer: Windmills!

OK, I need to actually read Don Quixote.

Hmm, someone wanna write that knights and cowboys, horses and windmills story? -- Did I just volunteer myself? Again? Prob'ly.

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