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Averse to versing

A few years ago when my kids started playing various Mario Bros. games, they started using a “new” word: versing. As in, “the Giants are versing the Dodgers”. They even turned it into past tense. “We versed the girls in soccer in PE today.”

This is heebie jeebies, nails on a chalkboard kind of stuff for me. And I didn't get where it was coming from until I started watching them “verse” each other on the Wii. For example, in the Shrek SuperSlam game, the announcer says, “Shrek versus Donkey!” Instead of thinking of versus as a preposition, the kids were hearing it as a verb.

It makes perfect sense to me if you think of it purely from a context standpoint. Kids are pretty smart after all. Especially mine. ūüėČ

I still correct them whenever they use it, but give it another decade and “versing” may enter the Oxford English Dictionary as a new word. According to a recent Grammar Girl facebook survey, kids in English-speaking countries all over the world are using “versing”.

It also has an entry in the Urban Dictionary, use #2, and I found references to it on blogs back to at least 2005.

And here I thought it was just my kids and their friends. Hah! Nintendo has unintentionally created a new word for a whole generation.

I can't decide if that's cool or sad.

[tweetmeme source=‚ÄĚGwen_Hernandez‚ÄĚ only_single=false]

I could care less

I could care less about people misusing this statement, but unfortunately, I don't. Using “could care less” instead of “couldn't care less” has become one of my pet peeves, probably because I'm all about logic, and the first statement isn't logical the way most people use it.

If you could care less, then there's still room to go before you hit bottom. When you couldn't care less, not even a little bit less, then you're really saying something!

Maybe I should care fewer. The misuse of less and fewer is another one of my grammar pet peeves. Advertisers are some of the worst offenders, and are just adding to the confusion over this one.

According to Grammar Girl, less should be used with a mass nouns (those things you can't count individually, like tape, coffee, rice, money), and fewer is for use with count nouns (like dollars, presents, cookies, fingers).

Target had an ad campaign last year based on their slogan of “Expect more. Pay less.”. The campaign was pretty clever, and included the following slogans:

  • more splash,¬†less cash
  • more soft,¬†less cents ¬† ¬†[Eek! It hurts my ears just thinking about it.]
  • more bread,¬†less dough

Cool right? Except that the second one should really be more soft, fewer cents. No wonder everyone's confused. If they hear and read it used incorrectly often enough, after a while it sounds right.

So, by now you probably think I'm a complete nerd, but really, I couldn't care less. ūüėČ

The Daily Squirrel: patched

Bindi sat on the hard bench and swung her feet, the din of children laughing and playing filling her ears. She picked at a loose corner of the stiff fabric covering a hole in her jeans. No one else had iron-on patches on their knees. She frowned and quickly wiped the tears from her cheeks, looking around to make sure none of the kids had noticed her crying.

She hated her new school. The other girls always had new clothes, and they never had holes in their pants. Abby even got a pretty pink T-shirt from Justice over the weekend, and it wasn't even her birthday!

Someday, Bindi would be able to buy whatever she wanted. She was going to do whatever it took to make sure she had enough money, because her children would never go to school in hand-me-down clothes. But first, she had to survive fourth grade.

Passive aggressive: the grammar post

Before I launch into a grammar diatribe, I have to announce that I passed the halfway point in my current WIP! [Insert happy dance here! :-D]

Okay, back to the blog… The confusion over passive voice, the use of “was” and -“ing”, and the definition of showing versus telling has been bothering me for a while now. Yes, I'm a bit of a grammar nerd. (Though far from perfect!)

I believe a poor understanding of English is insidious when incorrect information is perpetuated by course instructors, critique partners, and contest judges. Authors fear every word they put on paper, frantically seeking new ways to strike “was” from their MS, and deathly afraid of telling us their character “feels” an emotion, rather than showing us through action.

So I was ecstatic to read author Amy Corwin's excellent (with references!) explanation of common grammar myths and show versus tell. If you're one of the confused, check it out.

Another excellent resource for all things grammar, is Grammar Girl. She has a website, and free podcasts on iTunes. On the website, you can subscribe to daily tips via email, or just search the site for the answer to your burning grammar question.

If you prefer a book, there are several good ones out there (I only linked to Amazon for your convenience, not because I'll get any money if you buy).

There are, of course, many others. Ask your friends. Most importantly, be in the know. Don't let uninformed writers scare you with incorrect information.

By all means, get aggressive at eradicating passive voice from your MS. But be sure you understand what it is first.

The Daily Squirrel: coffee

The aroma of freshly brewed coffee couldn't lift Jill's spirits as she rode the elevator up, every jarring ding taking her one floor closer to a day of cubicle-contained hell.

A year ago, she couldn't believe her luck when Mark Alder had chosen her to take over the team of programmers. But only months later, Mark quit and Dean Barlow moved in. Dean rode the team hard, giving them impossible deadlines, and never acknowledging the hard work her team put in to meet them. As the team leader, she was stuck in the middle, taking flak from both sides.

Her blood pressure spiked as she stepped off the elevator onto plush, gray carpet, but she vowed not to let Dean get to her. Today was the day she'd push back.

One of the programmers stopped her in the lobby, ready to burst with shocking news. She wouldn't need to push back today or ever, because someone else had pushed Dean…right off the roof.