Everyone wants to sound smart, and most people know that proper grammar plays a big role. What’s ironic (and, yes, this really is ironic!) is when people try so hard to use what they think is good grammar that they’re actually using bad grammar. Here are some of the worst offenses:

  1. “I feel so badly for you.”:  No, actually you don’t. You may feel sorry for me, you may feel sad or angry on my behalf, and you may even feel bad. But [tweetable]you don’t feel badly unless there’s something wrong with your sense of touch.[/tweetable] “Feel,” used this way, is a verb of being, which means it takes an adjective, not an adverb. “Badly” is an adverb; never use it to describe your feelings.
  2. “I’m nauseous.”: Every time I hear this, I think, “Well,  yes. Yes, you are. Or at least your grammar is.” This one has been misused so much it’s almost become accepted, but it’s still wrong. [tweetable]”Nauseous” means causing nausea. If you feel like you’re going to throw up, you’re “nauseated.”[/tweetable]
  3. “Thank you for the gift you gave Sally and I.”:  You’re welcome. But next time I’ll give you a book on grammar. People are so used to thinking of “me” as incorrect that they shy away from it even when it is correct. This usually happens when there’s an “and” involved. Few people would say, “He tricked I,” but tons of people say, “He tricked Bobby and I.” Just stop. Today. If you would say, “He tricked me,” you would also say, “He tricked Bobby and me.”
  4. “I don’t feel well.”: OK, this one is debatable. Like “badly,” “well” is an adverb. By saying, “I don’t feel well,” you’re saying there’s something wrong with your sense of touch (again). “Feel” in this sense is a verb of being, so it takes an adjective: Good. But — and this is where the “well” devotees have a point — “well” is also used as an adjective to mean “healthy.” So if you’re using it that way, it’s grammatically correct. But why not just skip the debate and use “good”?
  5. “Whom is going to be at the party?” When it comes to the subject of a sentence, you need “who,” not “whom.” “Whom” is an object; use it when you would use “him” or “me”: “You gave it to whom?”

What am I missing? There have to be more ways people trip themselves up when they’re trying to sound smart!


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