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In which John discusses his friend, Chester Drawers. Let us discuss in comments questions and answers to the great grammar problems of our age.


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A Bunny
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Good morning Hank, it's Wednesday. In your video on Monday you talked about lots of ways I can keep from linguistically embarrassing myself and I appreciate that but I wanna add one small little thing.

As you pointed out the word "effect" can be used either as a noun or a verb, but I would like to give you some advice. When you wanna use "effect" as a verb, don't. Ever. No matter what.

So Hank, as you know, I write books for a living and those books, on occasion, win awards, they're translated into many languages and they're often nicely reviewed around the world. I mean, the "New York Times book review" once defined one of my books "almost miraculous". To which I say: "Almost?". So Hank, I tell you, this not to brag or to encourage nerdfighters to buy my books - although there are links to do so in the doobly-doo - but only to point out that being a professional person of letters, such as myself, does not mean that you will not, on occasion, make hideous grammatical mistakes such as the double negative in that sentence. Crap double negatives!

Right to three years ago, we moved in Indianapolis and we had lot more space in Indianapolis, which meant we had to buy a lot of furniture. So, one day after a couple of months we moved to Indiana we went to a furniture store, and I said to Sarah: "Do you think we need a Chester drawers?". Then she says: "Do I think we need a what?" "A Chester drawers" "A what of drawers?" "A Chester drawers, Sarah, do you think we need a Chester drawers?".
Then she looks over at me, the man she is contractually obligated to spend the rest of her life with, and says: - “Well, we might need a chest of drawers”.
- Ooooh, chest *of* drawers! Not Chester drawers!

Also I was supposedly 25 years old when I realized the hors d'oeuvres I was eating at various function were exact the same thing as the "hors doufres" I was reading about in books. And every time I would read a “hors doufres” in a book I would think "That doesn't sound as a sophisticated thing to be doing, sounds something you would order at a brothel".

Hold on, I gotta Willy in.
- Hey, Willy - treat! Come on, get the treat, get the treat! Good news and bad news, Willy. Good news: you're inside. Bad news: the treat is a lie.

Hank, while we're on the topic I just wanna mention "who" and "that". "Who" describes a person and "that" describes everything other than a person. I mention this because one of my favorite bands is called "The Avett Brothers" or possibly "The AvEtt Brothers" or possibly "The Aevett Brothers. They sing that song that I really love - that I really love not who I really love - but the lyrics infuriate me because at one point they sing: "I want to have friends that I can trust." Friends you can trust like what? Like a tomato plant or a Super Nintendo or a tennis racket because if you mean a person then it’s "who" not "that"!

But let me just acknowledge that the job of grammar and pronunciation is to make language as clear and efficient and transparent as possible, right? But if we’re all constantly correcting each other’s grammars and being really snotty about it, then people stop talking because they start to be petrified that they will make some kind of terrible grammatical error and that’s the precisely the opposite of what grammar’s supposed to do which is to facilitate clear communication.

So I propose that in comments today, instead of recounting all of the times that we mixed up the words "orgasm" and "organism" in biology class – which happened a lot, according to the comments from your Monday video – we all come together and non-snottily ask and answer grammatical and pronunciation questions we’ve always had. For instance, as you’ve probably noticed, I don’t know how to pronounce "The Avett Brothers" or "Aevett Brothers" or "Ah-vet Bro-vairs". I also, despite working with words for a living, do not have an A number one handle on the difference between "lie" and "lay".
So what don’t you understand? And if you know the answers, share them; non-snottily.

Hank, I’m on my way to Waupaca, Wisconsin, where I’ll be speaking on Friday and Saturday (more info in the doobly-doo) but Edgar will see you on Friday, except not really, because his eyes are closed.