Unpopular Grammar Opinions By Which I Unequivocally Stand

sack vs. sac

“Sack” is appropriate when referring to an actual bag of some kind, e.g. grocery sack. “Sac” is an anatomical term, e.g. egg sac, fluid-filled sac, nut sac. I am willing to concede that “nut sac” is colloquial, and that it could refer to a receptacle for one’s nuts, as in “I’m going to the store to pick up some testicles and I brought this reusable sack to place them in.” However, as males are born with their nut carriers, I prefer the anatomical term sac. Another way to think about this distinction is that one can carry anything in a “sack,” be it pleasant or unpleasant (e.g. a sack of potatoes, a sack of cats, a sack of severed limbs), whereas something in a “sac” is guaranteed to keep you up at night (e.g. tiny spiders, naked pink testicles). I know this because in writing this post I googled “what color are uncovered testicles” and I almost threw up.

Verdict

nut sac: 1, nut sack: 0

come vs. cum

Once, I had to type this word in an email to a parent to let that person know that his child had made a very poor choice during class discussion, and I was forced to take a stand on spelling. I chose “come.” Now I know what you all are going to say about this, but I find the “cum” spelling positively barbaric. It’s used by teenyboppers and whoever keeps sending me porn spam. They are responsible for my not being able to read the Latin phrase “summa cum laude” without blushing.

Classy people use “come.” There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support this position. Take my word on this. I would not advise googling it. NSFW.

Verdict

come: 1, cum: 0

judgment vs. judgement

The word “judgement” without the word “judge”? A g next to an m? Preposterous.

Verdict

Brits: 1, Americans: 0

twat-waffle

Should be hyphenated. Without the hyphen, it looks like “twa twaffle,” which makes no sense. Do not, under any circumstances, separate “twat-waffle” as two words. “Twat” is an adjective modifying the noun “waffle.” What kind of waffle is it? A waffle of twat. Therefore, the adjective and noun should be joined with a hyphen. Twat-waffles probably won’t know this, but if you’re calling someone one in print, write it correctly anyway. People need to learn.

Verdict

twat-waffle: 1, twatwaffle or twat waffle: 0

the semicolon

My second-favorite punctuation mark, the semicolon is an excellent choice for joining two short and closely related independent clauses. If you opt never to use it, I find you lacking in creativity and less verbally skilled than your similarly-educated counterparts.

Verdict

Correctly-used semicolon: 1

Incorrectly-used or absent semicolon: 0

the ellipsis

The three dots, properly known as the ellipsis, should be used only when quoting to indicate missing text, or in dialogue to indicate that the speaker has trailed off. In all other cases, it should be banned. Say it with me: “The ellipsis is the punctuation mark of potheads and weak-minded people.”

Verdict

Ellipsis in quotations: 1, Dirty hippies: 0

the Oxford comma

The Oxford comma exists for a reason, and that reason is clarity.

I can accept eschewing the Oxford comma for journalistic purposes, or if the rhythm of the sentence is drastically improved by omitting it—provided that it’s not necessary for clarity’s sake. As a rule, it should be used, and all good little children should be taught to love the Oxford comma. Maybe people need to let up on this Jesus stuff and teach what’s really important.

Verdict

Oxford comma lovers: 1, Ignorant mouth-breathing blobs of fuckpaste who flagrantly disregard the Oxford comma: 0

oxfordcomma

an apostrophe in a plural word that ends in a vowel

My God, you just can’t stand to see that s next to that vowel, can you? Are you some kind of vowel-consonant separatist? Let’s be clear: YOU DO NOT NEED AN APOSTROPHE IN A PLURAL WORD, ever (unless that word is also possessive). The only exception might be a single capital letter or number, like “She earned all A’s,” or “I don’t have any 3’s, go fish.” And even then, most style manuals say you only need the apostrophe if it’s a lowercase letter (e.g. “Mind your p’s and q’s”). Stylistically, I prefer to italicize the letter and leave out the apostrophe. The apostrophe is totally acceptable in that case; I’m just so averse to unnecessary apostrophes that I tend toward not using them.

It goes without saying here that if you put an apostrophe before the s in ANY plural word, you deserve to perish in fiery torment. Sadly, there are no legal punishments for these violators. Thanks, Obama.

Verdict

Correct apostrophes: We can be friends

Unnecessary apostrophes: I give no fuck’s for your well-being and hope you get attacked by a pack of dingo’s

apostrophecartoon
I have this poster of Bob the Angry Flower in my classroom. I’m not sure what the hell this thing is about people having spirit animals, but if I have one, mine is probably this slightly withered, curmudgeonly flower. He’s my spirit flower. You idiots.

God, I hope this becomes a regular feature. I’m flying high right now. Not actually high, as in on drugs, but high on punctuation.

Feel free to duplicate this post for educational purposes.

10 thoughts on “Unpopular Grammar Opinions By Which I Unequivocally Stand

  1. I use ellipsis all the time. (And every time I do I think of you.) But I am not a dirty hippie. Just lazy. Also, I’m the first to admit my grammar sucks.
    But the Oxford comma? WTF with people who don’t find it necessary. I mean, really!

  2. Thoughts:
    1. I have been tormented by judgement my whole life, because I spell it correctly.
    2. In the past I believe I have not hyphenated “twat-waffle,” but your argument makes sense, so in the future, I shall hyphenate.
    3. I once got a job based on the following statement: “I am one of the few people left in the world who can correctly use the semicolon.”
    4. Can we also please state that the ellipsis is THREE dots only? I don’t care how they’re spaced (. . . vs …) but for the love of all that is good and right, only THREE dots. Not five, not twelve, not thirty-seven, as I see on Facebook all the time. THREE. Thank you.
    5. Failure to use the serial comma should be punishable by death. (Although I did read that Webster’s dictionary saved EIGHTY pages by reducing the number of commas they used.)
    6. Bob the Angry Flower is spirit animal, and I have that poster hanging at my desk.

    Suggestions for other issues to address in future installments of this feature:
    1. Unnecessary use of “quotation marks.”
    2. Once space after a period, or two?

    Have you read “Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen” by Mary Norris? If not, please stand up right now, walk to your nearest bookstore, and buy a copy, because you will LOVE it.

    1. Bob the Angry Flower is awesome.

      Thank you for the suggestions. Unnecessary use of “” drives me crazy. I grew up on two spaces after a period but recently accepted the tides of change and converted to one.

      And I am adding Between You and Me to my reading list. I can already tell from the title I am going to love it.

  3. Love it. Long live the Oxford comma. And I totally want to buy that Between You and Me book as well. Now how about less vs. few? My pet peeves are: when people say “different than” instead of “different from” and “an” historian instead of “a.”

  4. As an editor, I am in love with this post. I will say that you can’t use a serial comma if you’re following AP style (which I guess falls under “journalistic reasons”). I will follow that comment by saying I hate AP style. If I could get the whole world to agree on one thing, it wouldn’t be religion or global warming. It would be to follow Chicago, obviously. And I agree that “come” is the only dignified spelling; keep it classy, people.

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