Calliope Writing

Don’t Freak: These Grammar Rules Are Damned Confusing
February 26, 2016, 11:40 am
Filed under: Grammar, Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

Grammar can be tricky. We all know the common too/two/to, their/they’re/there, its/it’s errors that drive the average grammar Nazi crazy…but the following four grammatical mistakes are others that I run across all too often.

And it must be stopped.

“You and I” May Sound Proper…but It Isn’t Always.

I vividly remember being told in elementary school that the correct way to refer to yourself and someone else was “you and I” or “he/she and I.” After a while, “you and me” just sounded wrong.

But it’s not, depending on the rest of the sentence.

A few examples:

Wrong: When I decided to go on The Bachelor, I knew Ben and me would be the perfect match.

Right: Just like I’d predicted, at the end of the rose ceremony, it was between her and me.

Wrong: The fact that you brought your bratty child over for dinner means a lot to my husband and I.


common grammar mistake example

Confused as to why some of these instances called for “me” and others required “I“? Try this quick trick: Take the other pronoun out of the sentence and see which is correct: me or I.

For example, using the first example above, if you removed “Ben” from the second part of the sentence, you’d be left with “me would be the perfect match.” Since you don’t want to sound like Tarzan, this is incorrect. “I would be the perfect match” – now we’re talking.

You Are Not Nauseous. You Are Nauseated.

The good old stomach bug or the dreaded food poisoning. Feeling sick to your stomach isn’t fun. But it doesn’t mean you’re nauseous.


The traditional definition of the word is “causing nausea.” So if you’re nauseous, you’re making someone else feel like yakking. (And you must be doing something wrong. Clean up your act.)

Instead, to state that you feel like puking, use the awkward-sounding (but technically correct) nauseated.

common grammar mistake example

It is worth noting, however, that using “nauseous” to mean feeling sick is becoming more acceptable; even Merriam-Webster has added it to their definition, for cripes’ sake.

Don’t Forget the Damned -ly.

“I wish things had turned out different.”

It’s a cliched breakup line – and a way to avoid being blunt – but it also bugs the hell out of me…because it’s missing two important letters. L. Y.

common grammar mistake adverbs and -ly

Oh, what a difference two letters make. Folks, don’t forget that those two little but oh-so-important letters are frequently required when using adverbs.*

That Which Is Not but Which Is…That or Which?

That and which are two words that many use interchangeably. But they are not interchangeable.

Instead of getting into the nitty-gritty and discussing restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses, I’ll skip ahead to a simple trick you can use to determine which word to use.

If you can delete the words that follow “which/that” and the sentence still makes sense and its meaning remains intact, use “which.” If deleting those words makes the sentence a fragment or changes its meaning, go with “that.”

Wrong: Armed with a baseball bat, he walked to the car which was parked in his driveway.

This is wrong because he could be walking up to any car with a baseball bat. In this case, the narrator is speaking specifically about the car parked in the driveway. Which car? That car.


common grammar error that versus which

The front seat is the same front seat – drenched in puke or not – so “which” is appropriate to use.

Note that when “which” is used, the phrase is set off from the sentence with commas.

Wrong: The girls who work in my office that has an incredibly cliquey vibe are kind of bitches.

Just reading that sentence starts to give me a headache. Cross out “that has an incredibly cliquey vibe,” and you’re still getting the message: Those girls are some bitches. Therefore, this sentence should be written: “The girls who work in my office, which has an incredibly cliquey vibe, are kind of bitches.”

Right: “Use the headphones that are in my desk,” she said. “They’re not sticky with ear wax.”

The speaker is clarifying that the person should use a particular set of headphones. Without “that are in my desk,” she could be referring to any pair of headphones. Which pair? That pair. (The second sentence simply provides an explanation for the speaker’s specification…it really has nothing to do with this grammar rule.**)

While we’re at it, let’s talk quickly about “who.” Use this word when referring to a person. (Easy, right?)

Wrong: The man that had given me the money started chasing me, obviously having second doubts.

A man is a person, not a thing. So refer to him like one.

Right: He ran directly into a woman who was taking her pet orangutan for a walk.

A woman is a person, not a thing. So we refer to her like one.

These are only a few of the grammar errors I run into time and time again. Which usage rules give you a hard time?

*Reminder! An adverb is a word that describes a verb or an adjective. More information on adverbs can be found here.
**Sue me! I wanted to use the phrase “ear wax.”

9 Comments so far
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Liked by 1 person

Comment by Walker

You’re so funny. I pukedly remembered that sticky earbuds belonged to her and not me or Tarzan. Oh, yes and vomit is a good theme. So, did I get the gist of the post’s message? Oh, it’s about grammar. Yeah, I’ll read it more closely next time. Never mind . . . (This is only a joke. If you hear screams, that’s me laughing. Great post!)

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Karina Pinella


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Comment by Katrina

Nice one. Thanks.

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Lord eBay

I’m glad you liked it!

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Katrina

Nice one!

BTW, according to, to feel nauseous has been around for several centuries:

The two literal senses of nauseous, “causing nausea” ( a nauseous smell) and “affected with nausea” ( to feel nauseous), appear in English at almost the same time in the early 17th century, and both senses are in standard use at the present time. Nauseous is more common than nauseated in the sense “affected with nausea,” despite recent objections by those who imagine the sense to be new. In the sense “causing nausea,” either literally or figuratively, nauseating has become more common than nauseous : a nauseating smell.

Anyhow, a word I love to hate (even though it is marked as ‘non standard’ in the dictionary) is irregardless. Nauseous much???

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Graham Stephen

Good to know!

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Katrina

So freakin’ awesome!

Liked by 1 person

Comment by cnrobinson7782

Great post, Katrina. I’ll show this to my daughter.

Liked by 1 person

Comment by Sarah

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