Saturday, April 26, 2014

Grammar Nazi Count-Down: Episode Six -- A Lot vs. Alot

Nothing gives the Nerdvark worst gastrointestinal pain than seeing the words "a lot" joined together to form one non-word, "alot."


When Nardvark hands over his writing with pride, the Nerdvark's guts get all twisted.  Once he is able to speak, he says, "'Alot' is not a word.  'A' is a word, and 'lot' is a word, but together they are not a word."

Then Nardvark, who has just never had a mind for languages, says, "Huh?"

To which the Nerdvark always replies, "Look, you wouldn't write 'apizza' or 'aunicorn' or 'asprinkling', so what's with 'alot'?"

The Nerdvark is doubled over in pain because
Nardvark is bombarding him with alots.

For more on this grievous word-crunching error, meet the Alot Monster here.  If you still don't get it, read all about bad spelling from The Nerdvark's personal god, The Oatmeal.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grammar Nazi Count-Down: Episode Five - then vs. than

Are they homonyms?  

Nerdvark would say "no;" they don't sound the same.  Look, different vowels: then / than

Are they often confused?

Nerdvark says "Definitely!"  In addition, when Nardvark confuses them, it makes Nerdvark's ear-tips turn green.

Then is an adverb of time.  Use it to tell what order things happen in.

Nerdvark read Nardvark's latest attempt at writing, and then when Nardvark said, "Great work, eh?" he laughed so hard he snorted milk through his nose. 

Than is a comparative. 

Nerdvark's horn is droopier than Nardvark's.  Nerdvark's teeth are larger than Nardvark's, and they make him look like a rabbit, not a narwhal-aardvark cross.  Nerdvark's vision is worse than Nardvark's, and he looks like a nerd in his hipster glasses.

Nardvark discusses his writing skills with his friend, the Nerdvark

Need a mnemonic?  than has the article an in it.  Use it in the sentence "An ant is smaller than an elephant."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grammar Nazi Count-Down Episode Four - Subject-Verb Agreement

Nardvark and his alter-ego, the Nerdvark, don't always agree.  Living on the edge, Nardvark likes to try new combinations in his sandwiches and pizzas.  Nerdvark is of the opinion that certain condiments do not mix.  Nardvark also has a problem with disagreements in his writing.  

Subject-verb agreement means that when you conjugate a verb (i.e. he runs, she runs, we run, they run...) you have to notice whether your subject is singular or plural.  

Here are some examples of subject-verb agreement errors that Nardvark has made recently:

Everyone think I have an absolutely spectacular horn.

This sentence made Nerdvark laugh, because not only is it untrue, it also shows that Nardvark doesn't realize that although the subject "everyone" has the word "one" in it, it refers to a lot of people and therefore is treated as plural.  The Nerdvark rewrote the sentence for his friend like this:

Everyone thinks I have an utterly ridiculous horn.

Sometimes, Nardvark begins a sentence with a compound subject, like this:

Nerdvark and his imaginary friend doesn't like peanut butter on hamburgers, even though it's delicious.

In this sentence, even though Nerdvark's imaginary friend is singular, there are two subjects mentioned, so the verb must be conjugated for a plural subject.  Nerdvark has repaired the sentence thus:

Nerdvark and his mysterious friend don't like peanut butter on hamburgers, because it is revolting.

Nardvark gets even more confused when the compound subject of his sentence contains or:

Nerdvark or Nardvark feed their pet toucan every day.

Seems like with the both of them in there, it ought to be a plural subject, right?  But with "or" between them, we are actually only referring to one of them, so it's a singular subject.  

Nerdvark or Nardvark thinks about feeding their pet toucan every day, but only Nerdvark actually bothers to do it.

Sometimes Nardvark's subjects have a modifier, which can lead to confusion with the verb:

Nerdvark, who has ugly furry feet, wear silly slippers shaped like fuzzy dolphins.

While it is true that Nerdvark has furry feet and fuzzy dolphin slippers, he is still the subject of the sentence, and his verb needs to be singular:

Nerdvark, who has luxuriously furry feet, wears adorable slippers shaped like fuzzy dolphins.

Nerdvark can't help laughing when he reads
Nardvark's subject-verb agreement errors!

If you think you, like Nardvark, may have a problem with your subject-verb agreement, you can find more guidelines on The Nerdvark's favourite website, the Purdue Online Writing Lab.  If you enjoy my blog and find it helpful, please support me by checking out my website:  Thanks!