What Grinds Your Ears?

Michelle, a new listener from KUOW in Seattle, is chiming in with some terms that really grind her gears.

Today I heard “Says You!” for the first time. I get very poor radio reception where I live.
I heard where people were asked what word or phrase improperly pronounced or grammatically annoyed them the most.

For me, the word “extinct” is misused so often it drives me crazy. The term “going extinct” or “went extinct” is proper. But so often, you hear “becoming extinct.” Well, that is just wrong. It’s almost as bad as another, where something was “found to be missing.” How can something be found if it’s missing?

Love ’em, Michelle! But don’t let poor reception stop you from listening. Catch up on new and classic episodes of Says You! anytime on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and anywhere else podcasts are found!

14 replies
  1. Bernard Clark
    Bernard Clark says:

    It is ‘dragged’ not ‘drug’. ‘Bring’ and ‘Take’: You can bring or take something with you when you are going… I am bringing this with me… I am taking this with me… but you can’t say ‘I am going to bring this on vacation next week’. It should be ‘I am going take this on vacation next week’….. but nobody cares.
    misuse of ‘lead’ for ‘led’, ‘loose’ for ‘lose’. Momentarily means ‘for a while’ not ‘in a while’. My sister went with my wife and I…. wife and me. Collective nouns and ‘are’ rather than ‘is’… The crowd are getting restless… should be is getting…. The portfolio of projects are becoming unmanageable…. is becoming… Similarly… The number of storms are increasing … should be ‘is increasing’. That’s plenty for now!

    • Gregg Porter
      Gregg Porter says:

      I’ve never understood why, in baseball, it is possible for a player to have “flied out,” not “flew out.” But there’s a LOT of special terminology in sports.

    • Duffy Johnson
      Duffy Johnson says:

      The only issue I’d have with that assessment is concerning collective nouns. In America, a group of anything is considered singular (a band, team, crowd, etc). In the UK many group words are considered plural (“the band are performing tonight”, “the team are ahead 4-nil at the half”).

  2. Susan Ellis
    Susan Ellis says:

    People who leave the -ed off of words when they’re using the past tense. Also, quite when they mean quiet or momento instead of s is just a few.

  3. Joseph Ferreira
    Joseph Ferreira says:

    The mispronunciation “axed” rather than “asked” drives me up a wall and I hear it from students in the school where I teach as well as in public when
    I hear snippets of conversation. Absolutely verbally lazy and preventable..

  4. Jan Wigle
    Jan Wigle says:

    I hear commentators on the radio (even NPR!) pronounce the word “divisive” with a short “i” in the second syllable. The correct pronunciation is with a long “i.” It should be pronounced as in “divide” not as in “division.”

  5. Linda Ferrazzara
    Linda Ferrazzara says:

    Bernard Clark – we must have had the same English teachers! I go absolutely MAD when I see “lead” instead of “led”, but I think an excessive reliance on autocorrect may often be to blame. And, again, as you have mentioned, incorrect pronoun cases following prepositions: I have to bite my tongue when someone says, “Just between you and I…” (AAARRRGGGHHHH!!! But you can correct people only so many times before they stop speaking to you, and start leaving the room when they see you coming.) I also absolutely burst an aneurysm when I hear someone say, “That begs the question…” when they mean, “That prompts the question…” or “That raises the question…” or “That brings into question…” And similar to confusing “lose” with “loose”, I saw a headline not too long ago regarding John McCain’s decision not to continue cancer treatment that stated, “McCain choses to discontinue…” Yes, “choses” instead of “chooses.” And let’s not forget the old standby, “newk-yoo-lar” for “newk-lee-ar”. Funny thing: I once saw a Monty Python sketch in which spies were using “bin-nock-lee-ars” to observe their quarry, and now I have to remind myself that it’s correctly pronounced “bin-nock-yoo-lars.”

    And since we’ve trespassed into written territory, how about the misuse of “it’s” for “its”? Sometimes I think people who’ve learned English as a second language are better at it than most native speakers! And about collective nouns: I’ve always understood that there’s some leeway regarding which form of the verb to choose. If the collective noun is acting as an unit, which is usually the case, you would use the singular verb; if, however, you are referencing the actions of individuals within the group, you would use the plural form of the verb. (I find the latter more often in British, rather than American, English writing and speaking.)

    Oh, don’t get me started!

    • Gregg Porter
      Gregg Porter says:

      Too late, Linda!

      How about words where you pronounce them as they once were, but are now accepted in a different pronunciation? And people find you pretentious when you go old-school on ’em (which I am, of course)?

      > bona fide (fee-day)
      > flaccid (hard -no pun there – K)
      > short-lived (long I)

    • Linda Ferrazzara
      Linda Ferrazzara says:

      Ooops! Misattribution of the Monty Python/spies sketch – it was actually from an old British sitcom called, “The Young Ones.” My apologies, Rik Mayall, et al.


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