I'm a grouchy old man
And as such, Ned Crabb's column in today's WSJ, as well as suiting his last name amazingly well, fits my sensibilities perfectly:
I can stay my pen no longer. Solecisms that are becoming common in written and spoken English must be dealt with firmly. Two are dreadfully ignorant and unacceptable, while another usage is forgivable though nonetheless wrong. Today, with this column, I'm going to halt the use of the worst two and force a general acknowledgment of the third. Tomorrow, I'm going out to Jones Beach on Long Island and command the waves to cease rolling in to shore.While his particular examples seem rather tame to me the sentiment does not. I'll add one of my own:
Well. That's the way it is. You do your best. Perhaps a smattering of librarians will agree. Or just maybe a bunch of guys and gals in a holiday-bedecked tavern somewhere out in the heartland, boozing merrily and reading The Wall Street Journal, as I'm sure they are wont to do in such places, will wonder, by God, isn't good grammar a pillar of our beautiful English language? And are we going sit idly by and watch it knocked down by clumsy use?
"No!" they'll shout. And the cry will be raised and the word will spread from that tavern.
And I'll be crowned king of Uzbekistan right after Christmas.
Everyone is not in the room.Think about that sentence. What do you think it means?
Many people use it to say that there are people missing who are supposed to be in the room. What it actually says is different. Literally, that sentence means that there is no one in the room. [UPDATE (11/28/2005 - 11:35): As I mentioned in this comment, I was mistaken in my initial definition of this sentence. It does not mean that there is no one in the room, it means that no members of a specific group are in a room. "Everyone" refers to some subset of humanity, and by saying "Everyone is not in the room," you assert that no one of that subset is present. "Not everyone is in the room," instead allows for the possibility that some portion of the specified subset is present although at least one member of said subset is absent. Feel free to dispute this, but I'm pretty sure I'm right this time.]
The hypothetical person in question intended to say "Not everyone is in the room." People who say the former, incorrect phrase butcher the English language.
Yeah, it's minor, but, well, I'm a crotchety old man. Yes, I know I'm only 22—imagine what I'll be like at 60.
UPDATE [11/25/2005 - 0:50]: I just thought of another one what needs mentioning:
I could care less.The very nature of that statement, in the context it usually takes, contradicts itself. People use it to mean that they do not care about something. However, saying "I could care less" means that there is a possibility of caring less (duh), and therefore that you care on some level. One should instead say, "I couldn't care less."
If I think of any more, I'll add them. Feel free to place your own in the comments below.