Once, Twice, Three Times and Awhile

Have you also noticed people saying “once and a while” a lot lately? I always thought the phrase was “once in awhile,” meaning that within a long period of time, something only happened once.

There is a (very nice) song by the band The Killers, and about halfway through the song, the singer says, “every once and a little while” very dramatically. It has always bothered me. I listened to it ten times just now to verify and he very clearly says it. What I find really interesting is that I also did a search for the lyrics on a bunch of those lyrics websites and every single one of them corrected it and used “in” instead of “and”. Apparently, lyrics enthusiasts are also fans of grammar!


There, their

It has been a few days (weeks, months) since I last posted on my snooty grammar blog. I used the word “their” incorrectly and I have been hiding out from the world ever since. I felt that I did not deserve to have a snooty grammar blog. I even took a hiatus from my ridiculous cat blog.

But the other day, I found myself using the words “ostensibly” and “mercurial” in a sentence and I thought, Snooty Word Lady is back, baby! I mean, it was two SAT-ready words IN ONE SENTENCE, people! I think I am allowed to come back to complaining about other people’s grammar mistakes. And maybe I’ll go take some ridiculous cat pictures while I’m at it.

Happy Wednesday! I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Ostensibly. I have a reputation for being mercurial about these things.

SEE?? I’m back!

The $1,000,000.50 House

I live in a very cheap apartment above a garage in a very expensive neighborhood. My zip code is 90211, one number off from the famous 90210. People (my mom) think this makes me and my husband fancy. It does not. It only means that I occasionally see celebrities at my local grocery store and a parking ticket is a hefty $63 around here. I know this because the good city of Beverly Hills has $189 of my hard-earned money.

The reason I tell you where I live is that I love it when I catch those one of those real estate shows featuring houses in my area. You know, like the one where a couple goes and looks at several houses and then chooses one? The houses are always well above $1,000,000. I know people in more affordable areas think spending over a million dollars on a tiny condo is insane, but seeing Queen Latifah buying a cart full of ice at your supermarket is worth something, right? Okay, it’s not worth that much. But I digress, again. Back to grammar! Inevitably, at least once per show, someone will describe a house as “a million and a half” dollars when they want to say $1,500,000. A million and a half dollars is $1,000,000.50. One and a half million dollars is $1,500,000. Either way, I can’t afford the house, but it sure is fun to watch.

Just Perusing Around

Peruse means to read something carefully. It seems, however, that a good number of people think it means the opposite, to skim through something or glance at it for a short amount of time. I always find people saying that they quickly perused through something. No one peruses anything quickly! By definition, perusing something takes time. Except maybe Cat in the Hat. I suppose anyone over the age of seven could peruse that fairly quickly. But you know what I mean.

A Whole Nother Thing

This one started with American Idol. Someone on that show kept saying, “That’s a whole nother thing!” I think it was Randy Jackson. I had heard it before many times, but it really didn’t irk me until that moment. It was that season with the guy with the hair, and there was a lot of time to tune out the singing and instead ponder grammatical errors. And pitchiness.

The thing is, when used in this way, the word “another” is really just like saying “an other,” so when you put an additional word in between them, the “an” is likely to become “a” instead. So Randy should have said, “That’s a whole other thing!” The “n” is lost to the consonant. Maybe I should get in touch with Randy’s people.


I am a woman who has six sisters-in-law. That’s a lot of sisters-in-law. I owe this bounty to the fact that my husband is the youngest of eight siblings. And my own brother isn’t even married yet, so hopefully, someday I will be able to say that I have seven sisters-in-law. It is really important that I someday have seven sisters-in-law, because my poor mother should be able to say that she has one singular daughter-in-law. Her singular son-in-law, joyously obtained ten years ago, just isn’t enough anymore. A wedding is in order! And don’t get her started on her lack of grandchildren (no grammatical issue here to discuss, just general acknowledgement of her obscene dearth of grandchildren).

I think because of my abundance of sisters-in-law, it has always bothered me when people say sister-in-laws when they mean the plural of sister-in-law. I do, however, get a little bit of joy in pondering what a sister-in-laws would mean. Is it a sister bond that is so strong that it encompasses all laws? A sister connection that went all the way to the supreme court? A policewoman whose sister is a sheriff? Nope. It’s just a bunch of grammatically incorrect but wonderful husband’s sisters and husband’s brothers’ wives. Phew, I really had to think about the possessive rules for that last sentence. Happy Football Sunday to all and Go Chargers (for my San Diego-based sisters-in-law)!

Would of, Could of, Should of

This one has been on my list since high school. I think it was sophomore year, and much of our English classes that year focused on poetry. I never got poetry. Other people seemed to instantly get the meaning behind each poem we studied and were able to identify even the most obscure symbolism. Clearly, the bird represents the human spirit and the water means Jesus! Cue to everyone in the class nodding in agreement. Huh, what? How did they get that? Wait, there was a bird?

Part of the class was to write our own poem. My poem was beyond terrible. I accept that. I used absolutely no symbolism. Although, there was a bird. One of the guys in the class had written an incredible, albeit bird-less, poem. At least, I was told it was incredible. This amazing poem was printed in large font and displayed proudly on the bulletin board behind my desk in the back row. (Tip for high school students: the back row is a good place to properly observe agreement head-nodding, so as to follow suit and not look like the poetry idiot you are.) Right smack in the middle of the poem was the line “He would of gone to the lake” in big bold letters, and right above the poem was a big red star with an A+ and a “100%!!” (the exclamation points are the teacher’s) to add insult to injury. I think the misspelling of “would’ve / would have” could have been grounds to knock off at least one percentage point, right? The error wasn’t even noted! I had to sit under that dang thing for three months. It drove me nuts. Obviously, I was not cool at all in high school. Grammar nerds aren’t invited to a lot of happening parties. Maybe you high schoolers should disregard my previous seating tip. Because I can only assume that the bulk of the readership for my snooty grammar blog consists of teenagers.