More Irky Things

Some expressions are so commonly used that we have come to accept them as correct, when they really are not.

Different than” is one of those. I see it used all the time, but the correct form is “different from.” If you are comparing things and one differs from another, it is different from the other. It doesn’t differ than. It differs from.


Now we have one that is so commonly used that many people are accepting it as correct, but it is NOT.

 “You better” should be “you had better” or “you’d better.”

Better is not a verb unless you mean “to improve,” as in to better yourself. So rather than saying, “You better be careful,” what you should be saying is, “You’d better be careful,” or “You had better be careful.”

In song lyrics, we hear “you better” used often (you better watch out, you better not cry), but I’m willing to bet that originally the words were “You’d better watch out, You’d better not cry.” Regardless, in song lyrics we allow a lot of grammatical horrors. Country music is full of double negatives and misused words but that’s what gives the music its flavour. (Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.)

Flavour up your music if you like, but if you’re doing formal writing, you had better use the correct forms of the language.


Finally, I find that I need to make one more plea to the news anchors to stop misusing “regard/regards.”

Regards are what you send to a friend or relative when you want to send them a greeting. “Please give my regards to my Aunt Mary.”

One news anchor uses it so much that you can almost count on it popping up at least once in each news item. When she’s interviewing someone, she often uses it to segue to the next question.

With regards to the president, how to you think he will handle this situation?”  Why does she have to send the president greetings before she asks about him? Maybe they know each other well?

What she meant to say was, “With regard to the president … blahblahblahblah.”

I’m so glad I got that out of my system again. I find it awful to have to listen to people in jobs way above my paygrade misusing the most common expressions.





Words that Jar

I know I’ve mentioned some of these misused words and expressions before, but lately I’ve heard them so often, particularly in TV news reports, that I felt another post about them was warranted.

You would think that people who make a living from publishing their reports would get the language correct, and yet, it seems that these reporters and news anchors don’t have anyone supervising their grammar skills. No one suggests to them that they should speak English correctly if they are going to address the public.

They repeat these same mistakes almost daily.

The first one that really bothers me is “regards.” When they mean “pertaining to” or “about” a certain subject, why do they first have to send a greeting to it?

Perhaps they’re going to talk about the tent cities springing up outside high schools in Seattle. First the news anchor has to send his regards to the tent city.

“With regards to the tent city, hi, how are you doing? I’m thinking of you. Have a nice day.”

While they’re at it, why don’t they send their regards to my Aunt Mary and me? We feel left out.

But sending a greeting is what they are doing, when they really meant to say, “And now, about the tent cities….” Or maybe, “And now, concerning the tent cities….” Or maybe, “With regard to the tent cities….”

Okay, I feel better now that I’ve blown off some steam on that one.


Here is another one that really bugs me. Same thing – usually reporters and news anchors misusing the terms.

Amount or number?

If you can weigh it or shove it all together in a mass, the term you want is “amount.

The amount of water in a glass, the amount of garbage in the can, the amount of rice in the pot. These are things that can be measured or scooped up in a heap.

So when I hear them say the amount of people in the crowd, I’m already wondering how many pounds they mean. Maybe there are a thousand pounds of people in the crowd?

Anything that is countable (theoretically) is referred to as a number of things. I said theoretically, because you wouldn’t want to count the number of daffodils growing on a hillside, but theoretically, you could.


The number of people in the crowd.

The number of raindrops, but the amount of rain.

The number of grains of sand, but the amount of sand.

The amount of wood in the shed, but the number of pieces of firewood.

The amount of rice, but the number of grains of rice.

The amount of frustration I feel when I hear the news anchor misuse these words, but the number of times I feel that frustration.