Talking Tips: Ten Things You Don’t Want to Say!


Many times we talk about grammar in terms of writing. This article is about speaking. We don’t need to worry about punctuation when we speak, but we do have to worry about grammar—and pronunciation (which we don’t have to worry about when we write).

Here are ten of the most common speaking gaffes:

1. Using a pronoun directly after the noun it refers to:

My brother he is visiting from Boston. Please take out he. My brother is visiting from Boston.

2. I don’t is correct.

But he don’t, she don’t, and it don’t are not! It’s doesn’t.

3. Please don’t get your past participles wrong.

The English language is tricky, with so many irregular verbs, but please try to learn them. It isn’t have/has went. Ever!!! It is has/have gone. Likewise, it is have written (not wrote), have eaten (not ate), have spoken (not spoke), have fallen (not fell), have rung (not rang), have swum (not swam)….and there are others.

4. Mischievous is spelled that way because that is the way it is pronounced.

It is not spelled mischeevious, and it is not pronounced that way either. The accent is on the first syllable, and there is no i in the final syllable.

5. Width ends in a -th. Height ends in a -t.

It is not heighth.

6. Oh, please don’t say ain’t.

Yes, it is in the dictionary, but so is irregardless.

7. This is probably a dialect issue, but please don’t drop your -ing endings to be -in endings.

I am going, not goin’.

8. Many of the grocery stores have now gotten less and fewer correct, so you should too.

Less is used for singular nouns and things that cannot be counted. Fewer is used for plurals and things that can be counted: Less money. Fewer pennies. Less salt. Fewer teaspoons of salt. Less stuff. Fewer than 12 items. The same is true of number and amount. Number is used with plurals. Amount is used for singulars and things that can’t be counted. Number of pennies. Amount of money. Number of doughnuts. Amount of pastry.

9. Avoid using double negatives.

Most of us avoid things like I don’t have no money, but remember that barely, scarcely and hardly are also negatives. I don’t barely have enough money is a double negative. I can’t hardly stand it is a double negative. You haven’t scarcely eaten a thing is a double negative.

10. Realtor and jewelry are often mispronounced.

They are usually pronounced with three syllables, but they each have only two. It is not jew-la-ry. It is jewel-ry. It is not re-la-tor. It is real-tor.

Arlene Philips