I’m taking this week’s Grammar Wednesday fodder from two things that were brought to my attention by readers and friends.
Dudley called me the other day. He’s an old and dear friend of mine, and he’s known about my personal blog for a long time. He only recently found out about this site, though (and I’m not sure how he missed it because I cross-reference them a lot, but that’s not relevant to this conversation). Anyway, he called with a request:
“You’ve probably already covered it before,” he said, “but it bugs me and I want to get your take on it. What’s up with people who say ‘I could care less’?”
I DID cover this already, at the behest of California Teacher Guy (to whom I can no longer link because his school is being, well, let’s just say that they’re not terribly open-minded about the free exchange of ideas). The post is here, but I’ll reiterate for those who don’t feel like clicking through:
What people are really saying when they say they “could care less” is that they actually DO care, at least a little. If they didn’t care at all, then they’d not be able to care less – they’d go into negative caring territory, and that just doesn’t make any sense. What these people mean to say is that they couldn’t care less – that they don’t care at all and just don’t have it in them to care any less than they do.
The other bit I’d like to have a look at falls under the category of misplaced modifiers. Kizz sent me an article from Feministing (which I can’t link to at the moment – I’m working on a “foreign” computer and I can’t make it do all of my bidding…). The article is relevant to the piece I wrote the other day about gay marriage rights, and in it, the author says “Growing up, my parents made sure that their children knew that our rights were fought for…and the how and why behind those battles.”
The author intended the “growing up” to modify her and her siblings, but the way the sentence is written, the “growing up” actually modifies the parents. This is something my students have a terrible time with in their own writing, and while I haven’t come up with any really FUNNY misplaced modifiers, I have gotten things like “after my grandmother died, she freaked out.” In the prior sentence, the student was talking about his mother and how close she was to the grandmother, but the sentence he wrote has the grandmother freaking out after her own death.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope your Wednesday is as good as mine is going to be!