Dear John (P.S.)

26 Jan

Dear John,

You can now find me at my new blog.  It’s called The Illustrious.  This site will have absolutely nothing to do with the University of Cincinnati and will not have much to do with grammar, except that it will be using it.

If you currently follow this blog, you should instead follow that blog.  I promise there will be something in there for everyone to dislike.

P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m doing this, it’s because the Grammys are on and MY GOD WE HAVE GOT TO DO SOMETHING.


Dear John,

6 Jun

There’s no easy way to say this.  Otorhinolaryngologist?  OtorhinolarynGOLogist?  I’m not sure.

It should come as no surprise to you that you’re being dumped.  I’ve been alluding to it all over the internet.  Haven’t you been reading my cagey, elusive Facebook statuses?  They were classics.   “Sometimes I just wish …”?  Gold.  “I wish you could feel how I feel … because then you’d feel bad …”  Right to the point.  “That moment when you’ve ended your graduate school career and so are no longer technically allowed to write a university-sponsored blog?”  Well, that one was a little more clear.

But I’ve been dropping hints that this relationship is over.  Because if you thought that that one status –“He’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar … heart symbol” — was just a friendly reminder about the erosive effects of water on polished maple, then you were WRONG, but should maybe consider a career in woodworking, because we could really use people like you.

So there’s no easy way to say this: Hepaticocholangiocholecystenterostom–oh, I already made a joke like that?  That’s my bad.  That’s on me.

This is the last OFFICIAL post of Grammarsaurus Rex.  Some of you may not know this, but this blog has been graciously sponsored by the University of Cincinnati.  I have recently ended my glorious career as a graduate student there, and as such, will no longer be writing for them.

The next phase in the UC grammar blog project will continue at under brand new authorship and ownership.  I know nothing about this blog, except that I am certain it will be wonderful, as the author sent me a nice email and that made me feel good.  I am also unsure what a weebly is, though I have to assume that it is something like an epileptic cousin of a Furby.

At some point, I will likely transition this blog to a new domain.  It may focus on grammar; it may not.  We’ll see.  But I’ll notify you when and if that time comes.  But for now, I’m taking some time to finally get to know the real me.  Whoops, sorry: that was a typo.  I meant get to know the real Mii.  I’m going to spend a lot of time playing video games.

So this is where we end things.  You know how it goes.  All six of the friends drop their keys on the dining room table and they head down to Central Perk.  The gang is put on trial for being horrible people.  Hawkeye spies the “goodbye” message left by B.J.  Dukie’s descent is juxtaposed with Bubble’s ascent and we all weep for Bodymore, Murderland.  The island was … purgatory?

Also, my identical twin would like to point out that “it’s not you; it’s me.”  But this is less of a commentary on this psedu-breakup note and more of a thing she said looking at an old photograph.


Grammarsaurus Rex

This post is not to be confused with a current “Saved as Draft” posted entitled “Dear Don Jon previews … thank you.”


Word of the Week: Penultimate

1 May

Definition (adj.): The next to last thing

Similar to: Really no other words.  This word pretty much stands alone.

Example:  As I have graduated from the University of Cincinnati, this post is the penultimate (official) Grammarsaurus Rex post.  Look for an official farewell post in the coming weeks.  And then look for me to occasionally keep writing here in an unofficial capacity anyway because I am not a cool person.

Word of the Week: Aphorism

8 Apr

Aphorism (n.): A briefly phrased statement or universal truth

Similar to: Adage, maxim, proverb

Example: A well-known aphorism of the early 2000’s was, “A stitch in time saves nine, but a Lilo in time doesn’t even know anything about sewing.”

Word of the Week: Proxy

25 Mar

Proxy (n.): The agency, function, or power of a person authorized to act as a substitute for another

Similar to: Agent, substitute, intermediary, surrogate

Example: Everyone’s always talking about Munchausen by Proxy syndrome; but having just returned from a Dave Matthew’s Band* concert, I’m more interested in having a conversation should be about munchies by proxy.

*I would never willingly attend a Dave Matthew’s Band concert.

That Moment When … You’ve Forgotten What Constitutes a Complete Sentence

19 Mar

Dear People of the Internet,

I’m afraid we need to have a talk.

I know you really like pictures to go with your words, so you might understand it better this way:


I think you know what I’m going to say.  You’ve known it since the beginning, but for some reason, we’ve been letting you get away with it.  It’s our fault, really.  We should have given you better boundaries.  I’m sorry, people of the Internet.  But I’m telling you now.  Here it goes:

Those “that moment when” word blobs you’re so fond of writing?  You know what I’m talking about.  Here’s a short list of some real examples I just found on Google:

“That moment when the ugliest guy you know gets a girlfriend and you’re still single.”

“That moment when you find out you have no homework.”

“That moment when you hear a familiar beat and then you finally recognize what song it is.”

That moment when … wait, what?  What are you saying about that moment?  WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY AT ALL?!  What is this, Internet, Rear Window: Part II?  BECAUSE YOU ARE KILLING ME WITH SUSPENSE.

(That moment when the blog lady references a movie you’ve never heard of.)

I don’t want to be harsh, but … honey.  Sweetie.  Internet.  I don’t know how to tell you this, but those … those aren’t sentences.  Not even a little bit.  I know you don’t care much about grammar (believe me, I’ve seen your YouTube comments, and we need to have a long, long talk about the comment, “shut uppp your muslim lolololol,” starting with what a contraction is, and ending with me asking you what that had to do with David going to the dentist), so forget about the fact that you’re not using sentences by any stretch of the imagination.

You’re just not saying anything.  You are not expressing an actual thought, and I’m afraid that you think you are.  I’m afraid you think you’re making some profound comment on the shared awkward and painful experiences of adolescence, but bro?  YOU FORGOT TO.

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 8.05.05 PM

Here’s what I think you’re trying to do.  I think you’re trying to say things like:

“That moment when you lock your keys in the car is a major bummer.”

“That moment when you look directly at a solar eclipse is the moment when you realize that your eyes hurt.”

Do you realize how much you tease us when you leave out the ends of those sentences?  Do you realize that without saying something about “that moment when,” you leave your life up to endless interpretation?

And do you really want to perpetually live out the ending to Lost in Translation?  Do any of us really want to live in a world where Bill Murray is primarily a serious actor?  Do you know that in that world Steve Martin visits you once a day and lectures you about art and explains that Two Wild and Crazy Guys are really a darkly ironic depiction on the hedonism of modern life?

Look, I get it, Internet.  You’re busy.  There’s a lot going on right now.  In fact, as we speak, the following is happening:

  • Buzz Feed just published 16,000 new articles about 9 MORE reasons why the 90s was the best decade ever (spoiler alert: Clarissa Explains It All, Big League Chew, Justin Timberlake looking different than he does now, Legends of the Hidden Temple, slap bracelets,Warheads, Lite-Brite, Fruitopia, and CLOTHES THAT LOOK FUNNY!)
  • There’s a new tearjerker video on YouTube that features soldiers coming home to their reptiles (spoiler alert: oddly anticlimactic)
  • Someone just created a Ryan Gosling “hey girl” meme for YOUR SPECIFIC LIFE SITUATION.  That’s right, AS WE SPEAK, Ryan Gosling is wearing a tank-top, holding a puppy, looking you right in your deserving-of-love eyes and saying, “Hey girl.  I know that you graduated with a B.S. in Marketing at a time when the economy was going through some stuff, and even though long term, you really see yourself opening your own business, you’re currently temping in an office complex three days a week and then helping your parents (who live next door) with some remodeling they’re doing on the other kitchen the other two days a week, even though they’re not paying you, when you’re honestly putting a lot of time into it and have even made quite a few runs to Home Depot and you’re spending your own money on this, and you don’t need them to pay you, but it just would be nice if it was offered.”
  • Oh, wait, Buzz Feed just published 4,000 more 90s articles.

So you’re busy.  I know.  But I’m asking you to just try your best, Internet, to say something.  If the Internet was about nothing, then it would be a Seinfeld episode.

Actually, now that I think about it, this all might be a Seinfeld episode.

Word of the Week: Acquiesce

4 Mar

Acquiesce (v.): to submit or comply without protest

Similar to: Accede, concur, agree

Example: If you think that how much I love and talk about my cat makes me a crazy cat lady, well, I’ve just got one thing to say to you: “MEOW! MEOW MEOW MEOW!”

Hmm. Point taken. I acquiesce. 

I Dreamt a Dream

25 Feb

The evolution of my feelings towards Anne Hathaway can be summed up by these, my chronological thought snippets:

“… prinCESS of Genovia.  That is fun to say!  This makes her a great actress!  Marlon Brando never had long princessy names like that.  Side note: remember to find out who Marlon Brando is.  I’m pretty sure a Wayan’s brother, but make sure.  May also be a type of cereal.”

“Ella Enchanted? More like ‘Smella Enchanted!’ Or: Ella Enchanted? More like, ‘Ella En-shant be getting any Academy Award nominations!’  Side note: you are ready for your battle rap career.  I know you’re nervous, but every battle rap crowd loves a good Ella Enchanted reference.  Just remember this, above all else: people who aren’t white definitely know and care about Anne Hathaway.” 

“OMG, DEER! DEER IN MY HEADLIGHTS! No … nope, Anne Hathaway.”

“Princess Diaries II: Royal Engagement?  I say, Princess Diaries II: Royal EnRAGEment … that this film had to end!  What a daring vision! What a journey!  Although that no-name playing Queen Clarisse really brought Anne down.”

Then there was a long period of time in which I did not think about Anne Hathaway at all.  Then:

“Hey, good call, Christopher Nolan: I kind of like her as Catwoman.  And wow, what a brave choice on Anne’s part: it’s not easy to follow America’s favorite Cat Woman, Halle Berry/most aunts.”

Then, as in all great love stories, ours took a turn when one night, I had a dream that Anne owned a small, dirty hair salon in south central Florida.  I came in for a consult, but we mostly ended up shooting the breeze and talking about life.  We finally got down to talking about hair, and I told her I was thinking about going for a pixie cut, but that I was scared.  She looked me in the eyes, and with the earnestness of a pixie-haired lemur said, “Don’t cut off all your hair.  That’s too much change.  But you should buzz off all of the sides.”

Little did dream Anne know, but shady business-owners in Florida giving me nonsensical beauty advice is my love language.  Once, the janitor at rip-off theme park Dysney Whirld told me that if I colored my face the same way I colored my nails, I’d almost be a bird, and we dated for six years.

So because of this, I would have liked her even if Les Mis hadn’t happened, but then it DID happen, and now I love her.

But you, like me, were probably unable to pay attention to most of Les Mis after Anne’s iconic “I Dreamed a Dream” scene because you were all like, “When is the past tense of dream dreamed, and when is it dreamt? Is it a Briti–AHH, THIN DEER ON THE SCREEN, THIN DEER ON THE SCREE–nope, nope, Anne again.”

To solve all of your problems, here’s a quick and easy look at some of the most commonly used irregular verbs (i.e. verbs that might have a past tense that ends in a ‘t.’).

Verbs where the past tense CAN end with a t, but where the -ed ending is more common:

Dreamt: The most common way (in American English) to make this past tense is to make dream into dreamed.  Dreamt is an acceptable option, but it is much more common in British English.

Burnt: Burned is a much more common past tense, but when it’s turned into an adjective, burnt is more popular (see: burnt sienna, brown’s best chance at love).

Leapt: This is a fairly well-accepted variant on the past tense of leap.  Be sure not to spell it “lept,” though.

Verbs where the -t ending in place of the -ed ending is still technically an option, but it’s very uncommon and very British and you will probably be judged for doing it unless you’re entrenched in some kind of Angophile fan-fic world, in which case, being judged is probably not really your biggest concern at this point, is it?:

Clapt (instead of clapped)

Leant (instead of leaned)

Learnt (instead of learned)

Slipt (instead of slipped)

Smelt (instead of smelled … which is funny, because smelt is also a fish, and, you know, eww)

Spilt (instead of spilled)

Words where the -t ending is the ONLY acceptable past tense ending:

Bent (past tense of bend)

Crept (past tense of creep)

Dealt (past tense of deal)

Felt (past tense of feel)

Left (past tense of leave … although the real past tense of leaves are buds! Yes! Got ’em with a nature zing!)

Lent (past tense of lend)

Lost (past tense of lose)

Meant (past tense of mean)

Sent (past tense of send)

Slept (past tense of sleep)

Spent (past tense of spend)

Wept (past tense of weep)

This list is not comprehensive, but it does cover many of the big players in the irregular verbs game.

I know you’re probably sick of reading this since it’s just been a repeat of all the post-Oscars Les Mis stuff you’ve been reading all day anyway.  You know, because there’s anything Oscars-related besides Jennifer Lawrence worth talking about anyway.

But before I totally lose you, two fun Les Mis facts:

1. Russell Crowe was not aware at any point that he was being filmed.  All of his scenes were cut from a paparazzo’s secret footage of an argument Russell was having with his publicist.

2. Pantene Pro-V tried to book Anne Hathaway’s character for a shampoo ad campaign, but it fell apart.  Something about the “ghost of Victor Hugo threatening to haunt everyone at Pantene per a clause in his contract” or whatever.

The ad campaign?  “Fantine Pro-V.  For when you’re a prostitute and all your hair is gone.”

Word of the Week: Nonplussed

18 Feb

Nonplussed: A state of utter perplexity or confusion

Similar to: Confounded, disconcerted, astonished

Example: Sometimes I think that even if I discovered that Daniel Day-Lewis had played Wilson the volleyball in Castaway, I wouldn’t be the least bit nonplussed.

You Give Grammar a Bad (Last) Name

3 Feb

I have some gaps in my knowledge of classic movies.  My parents were really strict with what we could watch growing up, and once they loosened the reins a bit, I was way too busy caring about playing sports to bother with petty things like the how the history of our cinema is really the history of us.  I was trying to win sport games!

I’ve made up a lot of lost ground, but there are, of course, still gaps in my film history.  I think this may influence my understanding of what does and does not make a “good” movie.  My ignorance leads to situations like the one I had last night, where I had this actual phone conversation with my friend Mandy:

Mandy: (describing her experience watching the Oscar-nominated film Amour) I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience like that watching a film.  I was misty-eyed the entire time.  It was so intense and so sad, but it was such a perfect picture of love and the inevitability of death.  The love in that movie is the kind of love I hope my married friends have.

Me: I’ve only had an experience with a movie like that once.  Actually, I think it was something we watched together in college.  Do you remember John Tucker Must Die?

[Okay, okay, I admit it: this conversation actually did happen, but it was obviously a joke.  I would never be friends with someone who watched French films.  And did you know that the main characters are like, really old?  Gross.]

But I closed another gap this last week: I finally saw The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II.  We didn’t watch The Godfather: Part III because I’m pretty sure Herman Cain had a role in that one, and I heard there’s this ridiculous scene where Michael goes, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse,” and Herman goes, “We are still talking about Pokemon, correct?”  And plus, can you imagine how Herman would treat the women in that film?  I bet he’d turn them into total caricatures, like, every woman would either be a virgin or a prostitute or someone’s mother.  Can you imagine?

Of course, I knew some of the classic moments before watching either of the movies.  I was most excited to see the “leave the gun; take the canoli” scene, as it was such a gutsy move: a before-its-time-guns suck-carbs-rule jab at both the NRA and the Atkins’ diet?!  I hear that Francis Ford Coppola had to deal with blowback for that particular act of political suicide for years, most notably having to live to see his daughter direct Lost in Translation.

I was confused about some of the other scenes, though.  Sure, I had heard all about this whole “hoarse in bed” thing, but I was like, well, that really doesn’t sound like a very big deal, couldn’t the guy have just taken some Nyquil?  Turns out it was something different.

But overall, I think I reacted to the movies the same way that most red-blooded Americans do: it got me thinking about the grammar of last names.

The whole Godfather franchise revolves around different families: most notably, the Corleone family.  And sure, as movie viewers, we get to see dumb surface-y things like the juxtaposition of the descent into evil and the ascent into power, and what the family and individual looks like at the point of intersection; but what we DON’T see are all the behind-the-scenes stuff, like the infamous deleted scene where Fredo is trying to send the annual family Christmas letter, and he’s all like, “Hey, pop!  I know I can just sign this ‘The Corleones,’ but what would we do if our name ended with a ‘y’?  Oh my god, what would we do if our name ended with an ‘s’?  Hey, pop, real quick while I got your attention, do you love Michael more than me?  Also, what do we do about apostrophes?”

Of course, we never get any response because Don Corleone is too busy stuffing acorns into his cheeks to prepare for winter.

But don’t worry, Fredo.  I’ve got the answers for you.  Come on, let’s get in the boat and go out on the lake and talk about it.

Basic Pluralizations

To pluralize a last name, you keep the name intact.  For most last names, you can just add an -s.  Brown becomes Browns.  Miller becomes Millers.

If the last name ends with a -y, resist the temptation to change it to -ies for the plural.  The last name Cassidy would NOT be pluralized as “the Cassidies.”  Just add the -s, as in, “The Cassidys are pleased to invite you over for a special screening of Butch Cassid–hey, wait, THAT’S OUR NAME!”

Tricky Pluralizations

English is ridiculous.  That’s what you need to remember.

So, if the last name ends with an -s, -x, -z, -ch, or -sh, you need to add an -es to make it plural.  So that means you need to write things like:

-The Williamses love you

-The Xeroxes hope they didn’t copy your idea for a Superbowl party

-The Roaches hate sunlight

Possessive Form

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.  You don’t need to be adding stray s’s all over the place.  You’re going to run into one of four situations.  Here they are:

1. A basic last name like Brown or Tatum.  If you aren’t making the name plural, then you only add an apostrophe + s.  For example:

Mr. Brown’s car

Mary Tatum’s inferiority complex

2. A last name that you have pluralized because you are referring to more than one member of the family.  Take care of the pluralization before you worry about the apostrophe.  That’s my #1 tip.  Follow the rules above.  Brown becomes Browns.  Roach becomes Roaches.

No matter what the last name, if you make it plural, it will end in ‘s.’  Don’t be frightened.  Once you have made it plural, just tack on an apostrophe at the end.  Simple as that.  You don’t need to add an apostrophe + s.  Just the final apostrophe after you’ve pluralized it.  So, for example:

The Browns’ annual tree-lighting ceremony was, to be honest, underwhelming.

The Roaches’ way of life was confusing to their neighbors

3. A singular last name that ends with ‘s.’  A last name like “Jones” is what I’m talking about here.  Don’t worry – it’s easy!  If you are referring to a singular Jones (like Sarah Jones or Professor Jones), follow the rules for a singular possessive above and add the apostrophe + s.  It looks like this:

Sarah Jones’s name was boring.

4. The plural form of a name that ends with ‘s.’

This one is fun.  You can either use the -es + apostrophe ending, or, my personal favorite: DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING.  JUST PUT A FINAL APOSTROPHE AT THE END.  Boom.  You’re done!  Here’s what both would look like:

The Joneses’ Christmas card was ugly. (Option 1)

The Jones’ Christmas card was ugly. (Option 2)

The Edwardses’ family dynamic was strange. (Option 1)

The Edwards’ family dynamic was strange. (Option 2)

I personally favor Option 2.  It’s a lot prettier and a lot less confusing, at least to me.

And honestly, I’ve had enough confusion this past week.  People talk about how great these Godfather movies are, but no one ever talks about how confusing they can be.  During Part II, I kept waiting for Ben Stiller to show up so that he and DeNiro can have that famous “circle of trust” talk, but no dice.  And  I spent all of Part I thinking that when Marlon Brando kept talking about “an offer he can’t refuse,” he was referring to Target’s Red Card.  I mean, 5% off every purchase, no strings attached?  How does anyone turn down THAT?

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