Don’t dangle your participle in front of me

There are few things that get to me more than hearing people pronounce words incorrectly or use them the wrong way.  My biggest pet peeve in the world is the infamous use of the word ‘at’ and ‘to’.

Why in God’s creation, do people have to put ‘at’ or ‘to’ at the end of a sentence?  You know what I’m talking about.  You’ve all heard it.

“Where’s it at?”

“Where are you going to?”


Hearing these two sentences or any derivative of them makes my skin crawl.  Little hint folks:  the word ‘where’ implies ‘at’ and ‘to’, so you don’t have to dangle your participles, ok?

The next thing that irks me beyond all reason is mispronouncing words.  How many times has someone come up to you and said:

“Would you mind taking my pitcher?” and they hand you their camera?

Um, hello.  It’s not a ‘pitcher’ peeps, it’s a picture.  A pitcher is something you drink out of, so unless you’re offering me your giant container of frozen margaritas, please try to enunciate correctly.

I had someone say to me the other day, “Jen, can I ax you a question?”

Um, no.  You can ASK me a question.  I mean why do you want to chop up/get rid of a question by saying you want to ax it?

And don’t even get me started on the “Where it be?” and “Who it is?”  Every time I hear that, I feel like I’m going to melt into a giant puddle like the wicked which, I mean witch, of the west.

Oh, and one more thing:

You don’t pronounce the ‘l’ in salmon!

What irks you the most about the way people speak?  Come on. Tell me.  I wanna know.

23 thoughts on “Don’t dangle your participle in front of me

    1. Yes, I think I did. 😉 I think ‘few’ and ‘less’ is a common mix up and it’s not as obtrusive when when hears it. Not like that dangling participle thingy.


  1. My current pet peeve is the misuse of the word borrow. As in a sentence like this:

    “I borrowed him ten bucks.”

    What is this??? It makes no sense. It should be, “I lent him ten dollars,” or “I loaned him ten dollars.”

    If somebody is just bent on using the term borrow, then it should be, “I gave him ten dollars to borrow.”

    I feel better now after my little vent. 🙂


    1. When writing a character, I can see adding the inflections to get a gist for the character. I just don’t get it when I hear it coming from people who are so educated.


  2. I hate the “ax” the number of times I’ve heard that one down the years. Annoying. In another 100 years, I wonder whether people will have gone back to grunting at each other as the art of language disappears.


  3. Oh, yes. I understand the cringe! If you’ve got a copy of Billy Joel’s “Don’t Ask Me Why” have a careful listen. I think he says ax in one place. And that’s the studio version!
    Another one I hear so often I’m really unsure of the correct pronunciation. Is the word often pronounced “offen” or “often”. The t is silent, right? Or has it become so prolific no one actually cares any more?


    1. I was always taught the ‘t’ is silent, but I do hear more upper echelon, as well as British people, pronounce the ‘t’. That word, I suppose, is more a ‘geographical’ pronouncement.


  4. Ok, all. May I say something??? Please? When I posted this, I wasn’t talking about people who grew up knowing nothing else than this sort of speech. No one can be faulted for the way they were raised or the fact they are learning a new language (however, many people choose to ‘rise above’ their ‘status’ because they want to be better). The peeps I’m talking about are primarily middle class, upper class kids and young adults, educated in our school systems, the ones who didn’t grow up in ‘rough’ neighborhoods. I’m talking about the ones who ‘choose’ to speak like this. Blame it on rap music, the idols of the day, I don’t know, but somewhere along the way, sounding like you’re smart, became stupid, and sounding stupid became ‘cool’ (so says my 18 year old, btw). Trust me, I would never correct anyone (except for my kids) for speaking incorrectly, but between you and me, hearing “Where are you at?” really grates my nerves.


  5. It used to get my blood boiling, but working with many immigrant families as a teacher, I’ve become much more relaxed . . . for better or worse. There are just too many bigger issues at hand in the world today, and I’ve had to pick my battles. But I still love your rants:-)


  6. LOL! Such a clever post, Jenny! One of the characters in my stories speaks this way. Apart from ‘ax’ she also says ‘anythink’ – which I find highly annoying (but she is supposed to be an annoying character)…

    I once worked with a woman who got very confused in a meeting with executives and said ‘suppository’ instead of ‘repository’ three times. You could imagine the horrified looks and giggles!


    1. Oh my! LOL!! Poor thing probably didn’t even realize why everyone was laughing and looking at her funny. We all make mistakes like this, though, and when we do, I hope we can laugh at ourselves.


  7. Announcing the Devil’s Advocate! *ahem*

    My Dad is just like you. I grew up in a “borderline” neighborhood. Borderline by L.A. standards, that is. My Mom was an English major, but it was really my Dad who got after us about our grammar. All well and good. However, L.A. and most other large cities are conglomerates of several cultures. Taking that into account makes the incorrect grammar more understandable. For example, in Spanish, negatives are often doubled. In English that’s a no-no, but if you have a child who speaks Spanish at home and English at school, expect to have the two clash from time to time. Likewise with ghetto-speak. If your parents speak what was once refferred to as Ebonics at home, but you’re learning Standard English at school, or vice versa, there will be times when you mix them up. So few schools have the funds or staffing (or a wise enough school board) to hold high standards for their students and actually help them to achieve those standards.

    My Beloved was raised in several rough neighborhoods, at one point living with a Hispanic family that spoke little English, and even expereinced homelessness as a child. Not the best learning environment. His grammar is typically pretty good, but he uses double negatives and commits several other minor linguistic infractions. It has nothing to do with being UNeducated or even careless of the English language. It’s just part of his roots, and I’m not about to correct his “mistakes” because they are part of who he is. 🙂


    1. I agree, but I think your Dad didn’t want you to become ‘dumbed down’ just because everyone else spoke incorrectly, After all, if we make excuses for reasons why we shouldn’t do better, then we’ll never be better.

      My hubby isn’t the best edumicated guy out there. He barely got a 10th grade education because he had to help take care of his family growing up. Trust me, he dangles his participles quite often and I don’t correct him. Like you’re beloved, it’s who he is and I married him knowing it. Still, if I had a magic wand…:-)

      Thanks for stopping by. I always love a good debate. 🙂


  8. Oh thank you! Bad grammar, spelling and incorrect word usage is a huge no-no for me! The worst are: ‘should of, could of, would of’ – people, please, it’s “should have, could have, would have”! And of course, the basic “your/you’re, there/their/they’re, its/it’s … etc., etc., etc.” In my opinion, not using correct word choices and proper grammar is simply lazy writing, and there’s no excuse for that. Thanks for the soapbox, I will step down now and let someone else have a turn … lol. 😛


  9. Bravo, J. Keller! We love grammar rants.

    Poet Carilyn Kizer once said, “Poets are obsessed with death, and commas.”

    But we concur that all serious writers should think about the way their words arrange on a page to craft stunning — but grammatically acceptable — prose.


  10. Unfortunately, Jenny, I’m the same way. Always have been. I cringe at misspelled words!!! Did I just spell “misspell” correctly??????


  11. I am so huge on grammar… ugh! But what bothers me is when people use the wrong word. Example: Wear going over their.
    ACK!!!!! It’s We’re going over there! (sobbing in a puddle of my own tears) C’mon people.. read a little!!!! Great post.. 😉


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