Grammar Gripes from the Readers of the Huffington Post

Barry Lenson

The people who read The Huffington Post are smarties who hate really bad writing. That’s why they recently posted some of their pet peeves about English usage in a recent blog on the site . . .

Gripe #1: “Flout” vs. “Flaunt”

To flout means to treat with contemptuous disregard or scorn. To flaunt means to display or claim an undue amount of public notice.

Sample correct sentence: “Though he liked to flaunt his badge to show that he was a cop, he still flouted traffic laws by crossing the street outside the crosswalk.”

Gripe #2: “At”

One Huffington reader points out that “That's where he's AT” is incorrect. “That's where he is” is fine.

Gripe #3: “I could care less”

People should say, “I couldn't care less,” not “I could care less.”

Gripe #4: “Fewer” vs. “Less”

Fewer should be used when referring to people or things in the plural – stuff that can be counted. Correct example: “People today are buying fewer newspapers.” Incorrect example: “People today are buying less newspapers.”

Less is used when referring to something that can't be counted or doesn't have a plural. Correct example: “There is less than a quart of milk left.” Incorrect example: “There is fewer than a quart of milk left.”

Gripe #5: “Lie” vs. “Lay”

To lay means to place something down. It’s a transitive verb, meaning it has to have a direct object.

Correct example: “Lay the book on the table.”

To lie means to recline, or to be placed. Correct example:  “Lie down on the couch.”

Incorrect examples of both: “Lay down on the couch,” and “Lie the book on the table.”

Gripe #6: “A Lot” vs. “A Lot”

It’s correct to say, “I ate a lot of apples,” but incorrect to say, “I ate alot of apples.”
Also, correct to say, “My stomach hurt a lot after I ate a lot of apples.” It all kinds of fits together, right?

Picky, Picky . . .

Yes, the readers of Huffington Post are picky. But they have a point – the ability to write well is an important skill in life. If you need to become a better writer, why not enroll in a good writing course now?

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