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Prose Parade
Grammar and writing basics

January 18, 2010

Redundant Redundancies—Again

OK, here’s one that’s like an icepick jammed into my ear: where it’s at. If the phrase is used in popular songs, well, who cares. However, it’s moved to general conversation, and it shows the speaker doesn’t trust the English language. What on earth do you think “where” means? It indicates place. “At” is unnecessary and, you guessed it, redundant.

Here’s the phrase without “at”: where it is. Gasp! You still know what it means. For example, “Do you know where it is?” Lovely. Not, “Do you know where it’s aaaaaattttt?” Also, “I know where it is.” So flexible, so clear, so melodious.

Try it; you may like it.

January 14, 2010

Big of a

What on earth is this construction? Usually I hear it as in, “It’s not that big of a deal.” It’s means it’s not a big deal. It should read, “It’s not that big a deal.”

I’ve looked through my grammar books, even looked online (Grammar Girl uses it), and although I can find no rule, I’m sure it’s wrong.

Here’s my reasoning.

At first I thought it was the prepositional phrase, but no. “Of a deal” is fine. Then, I looked at big. An aha moment. A prepositional phrase should have a noun antecedent, and big is an adjective.

So, the sentence really should read, “It’s not that big a deal.”

So, OK, where does the confusion come in? I think it’s the placement of the article “a,” and the word “that.” English, as we know, can be weird. In the sentence “It’s not that big a deal” the “a” comes after the adjective, which is not the way English ordinarily flows. So, maybe, using the prepositional phrase “of a deal” or just the word “of” is maybe a stutter word like “um” or “you know.”

I suppose your reaction to my little rant is that it’s not that big of a deal, but it grates on my ears, makes my teeth clench and generally annoys me completely.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

January 7, 2010

Redundant Redundancies

Now, I like the TV show Bones, but if I hear the Seeley Booth character say “this here” one more time, I’m going to find a way to put my hand through the TV set and smack him.

What, he thinks “this” doesn’t say what he wants to say? “This” indicates someone or something close by, so adding “here” is redundant and considered nonstandard English.

For example, “This is my partner.” See? No “here,” and we still know who he’s talking about.

Respect the language and let it do its job fro crying out loud.

I think this last paragraph was a very loud harrumph.