And here we have another topic that will likely become a recurring theme, because there are just SO many people mangling the English language on a daily basis. I admit that English isn’t always the easiest language; there is a lot of irregularity to the rules. But if it’s the ONLY language you speak, or even your primary language, I feel that you ought to take the time to be certain you’re speaking it correctly. Improper grammar is one of my biggest pet peeves (and that’s saying something, because I have a lot of pet peeves). Here are a few of the most egregious offenses that are on my mind right now. If you say these things, stop immediately. If you don’t, congratulations, you’re not an idiot.
“I could care less.”
Well, if you could care less, than why don’t you? Seriously, think about this for half a second and you’ll realize it doesn’t make any sense. Your entire point in saying it is that you don’t, in fact, care. So if you could care less, you have not yet reached the minimum amount of caring. What you really mean is that you could NOT care less. Your level of caring is zero, it cannot go any lower. You cannot care any less than you already do. So stop saying you could care less, because you sound like a person who doesn’t comprehend your own language.
“For all intensive purposes…”
I got into a pretty heated argument with one of my childhood friends over whether the phrase is “for all intensive purposes” or “for all intents and purposes.” Trust me, it’s the latter. I’m not even sure what the former would mean. What the hell is an intensive purpose? Admittedly, the correct phrase is somewhat redundant. An intent and a purpose are largely the same thing, but it still makes more sense than “intensive purposes.”
Complimentary vs. complementary
I just saw this one misused the other day, and it practically made my blood boil. (Yes, it’s possible I take this stuff a little too seriously.) Complimentary with an “i” means free, gratis, no charge, OR it means a flattering comment. Examples: “Complimentary makeover with any $20 purchase.” They will give you a free makeover if you make a purchase of at least $20. OR “That color is very complimentary on you.” That color looks good on you. OR “You look nice today.” “Thank you for the compliment.”
Complementary with an “e” means that something goes well with something else. Example: “This pink eye shadow will complement your skin tone.” See, the pink eye shadow can’t “compliment” your skin tone, because the pink eye shadow cannot speak or write, which would be necessary in order to pay someone a “compliment.” But it can “complement” your skin tone because it looks nice on you. (Which is a “compliment” if someone says that to you.)
I have no clever tricks for remembering the difference between “compliment” and “complement.” You just have to remember that unless you mean for something to be free or you want to tell someone they look nice, you should be using “complement.”
“Gifting” or “Gifted” as verbs
As in, “I gifted that to her last year for Christmas.” No. No, no, no, no. You gave it to her. There is absolutely no reason why we need another verb to indicate the giving of something to someone else. It’s generally clear from context whether the item in question was a gift or not. “I gave her a diamond bracelet.” Yes, that was a gift. “I gave her herpes.” Not so much. I’m seeing “gifted” more and more in mainstream media and advertising. It needs to stop. It’s an affront to English. Please do your part to curb this terrible trend.
“I should of …”
For the love of god, no. The word “of” never follows “should,” “could,” or “would.” It’s always “have.” I should have had a V-8. I could have been a contender. You would have died if you had been there. The “should have, could have, would have” triumvirate are what’s known as modal verbs. Here’s a nice little lesson in modal verbs, if you’re so inclined.