Friday, April 4, 2008

Law & Order: Grammar Police

You know, I realize this will come as a shock to most of you, but this blog is not what conventional wisdom likes to call "influential" or "widely read." I tried, for a time, to carry myself with a certain dignity and refuse to pander to the lowest dregs of our society just to gain some temporary internet notoriety--but I gave that up when I realized that it wasn't increasing my hit count.

So now I'm pulling out all the stops and giving America what it wants--a series of lectures on grammar and usage!

This week, we'll start with a minor irriation that flared up for me just this past week as I was reading a popular webcomic, Ugly Hill.

Populous is not a noun, people.

"Populous" is an adjective. It modifies nouns. It is used to indicate the degree to which a place is filled with population. For instance, Chicago is a very populous city. Greater Metropolitan Virden is not a populous place.

"Populace" is a noun. The populace of a place is the population of that place, and it's usually only used to refer to a population of human beings. Both words sound like "POP-you-luss" when spoken aloud, but they're only homophones. Substitute at your peril.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you are going to be the "Grammar Police" I would like you to teach all bloggers the difference between "then" and "than," and the words "bring" and "take" concentrating on when each one is used properly.

Some of the bloggers drive me up the wall with the improper usage of these words and they are popular bloggers to boot!

Don Gwinn said...

I'll do my best, but here at Fort Apache, we are besieged on all sides, outmanned and outgunned. The barbarians are at the gates.

In my next installment I'll tell you about the argument I had with an English teacher (a good one, too) a few weeks ago.

However, you'll be glad to know we tested my 6th graders on commonly substituted words on Wednesday, and not one messed up the than/then choice.

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

"Verbing" words.
"Access", "reference" amd "loan" are nouns, nothing more.
Also love the Spell Check mistakes.
ie "Sheer/shear" and the always amusing "they're/there/their" fiasco>

Don Gwinn said...

Good point. Always remember Mr. Gwinn's Rule of Spellcheck:

"Computers are stupid. Would you trust a hammer to check your grammar? Don't let your tools make decisions for you."

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