Pet Peeves: What Are Yours?


Pet peeves. The topic came up recently in a discussion with some other writers on Facebook. This one was specifically about the spoken and written language – English to be precise.

Now you need to know that I am over sixty. That makes me an official grey-hair (although I keep it red to match my fiery personality). My years have earned me the right to be curmudgeonly, a right I intend to exercise with abandon.

Along with those grey/red hairs come some attitudes and opinions to complement them – that is to say set-in-my-ways and fiery. And I likely have a pet peeve for every hair that hasn’t fallen out yet. Fortunately for you, the only ones I will rant about today have to do with English. Even so, some are likely to cause some smoldering resentment and maybe even a few flames of disagreement. Good!

My biggest pet peeve, aside from servers in restaurants who chew gum, with their mouths open yet, (ugh, gag) is ‘youse’. “Do youse want ice cream with your pie?” “Are youse going to the game tomorrow?” Hey, nincompoops, don’t you know that the plural of ‘you’ is ‘you’? Yeah, I know it doesn’t make sense. So what? Didn’t your teachers tell you English doesn’t always follow its own rules? I cringe every time I hear it. It’s an assault on my ears. It’s just plain wrong – wrong, I tell you.

A more recent abomination is ‘bored of’ when it ought to be ‘bored with’. What did you say? Everybody says it now (and writes it, too)? Yeah. I know. That’s what has me steamed.

Oh, and don’t get me started on ‘Who’s the most important person in the world. It’s all about me, me, me. “Me and Sam went to the movies, me and Dad had a fight, me and … well you get the picture. I was taught it is always polite, to say nothing of correct, to put the other first. And by the way, it’s not ‘me and’, it’s Dad and I’ or “Sam and I’. What’s wrong with you? Were you born in a barn? Didn’t you ever go to school?

Another one. “He stinks more than me.” Nope. Wrong, too. It’s “He stinks more than I.” Why? Because you know that if you said the next word aloud it would be ‘do’. “He stinks more than I do.” But maybe you don’t know that because it isn’t true. Maybe you’ve been sniffing too many perfume samples at the mall and it’s addled your brain so now you stink more than I.

Oh, and ‘saw’ is not only a woodworking tool. “I seen that guy,” is NOT okay, okay? It’s “I saw that guy,” all right? Got it? Don’t forget it. There’s going to be a pop quiz.

Really, is the f-bomb the only adjective left in the English language? Or has the mean IQ devolved so much no one under twenty-five can remember any others. I thought we were supposed to be getting smarter. Hmph.

Phew! I’m so glad I got all that off my chest. I feel so much better.

Did I miss any of your favourites? Add it to the list. We’ll commiserate over a nice cup of tea.

So some of you want to take me on, do you? Well bring it on. This old bag can take it. Sock it to me. Look down your noses at me and tell me language is a living thing, that it evolves and changes, that I ought to get with the times. Phooey on that. I like my ivory tower just fine, thank you very much. Phfftt!


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Yvonne Hertzberger is a Contributing Author at Indies Unlimited and author of Back From Chaos and Through Kestrel’s Eyes, Books One and Two of Earth’s Pendulum, an Epic fantasy trilogy. For more information please see the IU Bio page and her blog @  http:/

Author: Yvonne Hertzberger

Yvonne Hertzberger is a native of the Netherlands who immigrated to Canada in 1950. She is an alumna of The University of Waterloo, with degrees in psychology and Sociology. Her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received. Learn more about Yvonne at her blog and her Amazon author page.

61 thoughts on “Pet Peeves: What Are Yours?”

  1. Oh, Yvonne! Be as curmudgeonly as you want when it comes to correct English usage – you go girl!

    One thing that drives me round the bend is this US refusal to use present perfect, as in:

    "Have you done that?"

    "Yeah, I did that already!" Oh, really. You did that when, exactly? Five minutes ago? Last year? Just after Armstrong stepped on the moon? What's so difficult about saying, "Yes, I have already done that,"? Grrr…

    These things got to me so much I created The Society for the Preservation of British English on my website, which is almost as popular as my books (shameless self-promoting link follows).


  2. Well, being over sixty myself, but with the snow white hair to prove it, I guess I have a lot of pet peeves. One that really frosts me though, is using the pronoun 'their' when referring to one person, such as "John is not allowing posting to their blog." I cringe every time I see this particular construction.

    1. Well, I'm a sweet young thing of only 58 years, but I did teach English for 12 years. The worst one that a student ever put into an essay was that she had her cat "spaded". I asked her what kind of shovel she used.

  3. Oh too many to mention, I'm a mere 55 and as curmudgeonly as any of you. The worst of all is "Can I get…?" Instead of "May I have? or "I would like." Although the may/can debate is alive and well in my current abode ever since I asked "May I shut the window?" and it turned out that indeed I had permission but actually I couldn't because it was too high. The only time when "Can I shut the window?" would have been a better, if rhetorical, question.

    Off to check if I can join Chris's society. 🙂

  4. Great post! One pet peeve leaps to mind. What happened to punctuation? I regularly edit large manuscripts where everything is strung together with ellipses and dashes.

  5. Yvonne, I'm curmudgeonly and do want to join in, but I don't hear or read these types of usage crimes very often. I will however listen out for problems this week :))

    P.S. The 'seen' vs 'saw' is top of my list because I am certain that it must sound incorrect to the user.

  6. Axe/Aks instead of ask, would of/could of instead of would have/could have, over and incorrect use of literally, I'm with you Yvonne on the 'off of'. Gosh, there's heaps more, I wish I wrote them down every time I came across them!!! Great article Yvonne.

    1. Oh yeah, "over" instead of "more than." Drives me crazy.

      Now, here in the Southern U.S., the plural of "you" is "y'all." Except in certain parts of the region, in which "y'all" is the singular and "all y'all" is the plural. 😉

      I grew up near Chicago, and for a long time, "y'all" sounded uneducated to me — but the longer I've lived in Virginia, the more I realize that it does fill in a gap in the English language. (We won't discuss how my change of heart has happened at the same rate by which "y'all" has worked its way into my speech….)

      1. How about dudn't? The first time I ever heard that from a man who lived in Virginia I asked him to explain it, and he couldn't!

        I am as old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth.

  7. Being a native Kentuckian, I could name about 500 grammar and pronunciation pet peeves, but I'm sure "y'all" wouldn't "unt" to "har" about any of that :). For something specific, I get annoyed by the wrong use affect/effect and your/you're.

    1. Brian, you beat me to "y'all." 🙂

      I lived in West Virginia for three years and could also tell many stories about the way the local dialect mangles English.

      1. We could probably keep the discussion on this post going "fer" weeks with all the colorful dialect from the region, but I "ain't" "gern" to do it :).

  8. Love it. Love everything about it. Now, the only question I have is; does the pet peeve only apply to the spoken word or can it go over into cyberspace, because let me tell you.

    You are is you're not your when speaking (typing) in the plural.

    Same with there, their, and they're. Look at the sentence, THINK about what you want to say, and type it CORRECTLY.


    As for the real world; using the word 'like' and 'you know' in a sentence where neither should be. Stop it. Just stop it.

  9. Most of mine have already been mentioned. "Could of" for "could have" is one. But, I also can't stand how people will write the wrong homonym in one part of the sentence and then write it correctly in another part of the same sentence. "They were their, but I wasn't there." "I know its time too go, but it's going two be a long day and I'm not ready to leave yet."

  10. I concur with the "youse" peeve, except it's a peeve for me in a different way. I currently live in Texas but was raised in New Jersey. When I tell people I'm from NJ, their first response is: "Oh, youse is from New Joisey." So let's just clear up the stereotype. "Youse" and "Joisey" are not NJ dialect. They come from Brooklyn. The reason for the NJ stereotype is probably because many Brooklynites(Brooklynians?) migrate to NJ. But it's not all Brooklyn people. It's predominantly the uneducated. So for someone to mimic "youse" and "Joisey" to me is the same as saying, "You're from NJ, so you must be uneducated."

    Another peeve is when someone uses a word improperly, and when I tell them it's not the right term, they say, "Well, that's the way I use it." Great, so we can make up our own language now? How are we supposed to understand each other?

    Love the site, btw!

    1. lol. 'Youse' seems to be all over the place. I hear it wherever I go. In Ontario it is more prevalent in rural areas, so maybe the 'less educated' theory applies.

    2. C. Amethyst,

      Hooray! I am from New Jersey. It drives me crazy that TV perpetuates that we speak like Brooklynites. I have a couple of close friends from Brooklyn and they're cool, the accent fits them. I do say cawfee. 🙂

  11. so many: ath-a-lete, tip of the iceberg, pushing the envelope, incent, incentivize, jumping the shark, nuc-u-lar, her and I, etc., etc., etc.

  12. I live in South Florida so I could go on all day about this stuff. It's kinda like New Jersey but worse. I hear New York Jankees all the time. It's a "Y" not a "J"!!! If it sounded like a J then it should be the New Jork Jankees. Stop already! Since when did this country (America) get so proud of being stupid.

    I know, I'm preaching to the choir.

  13. You know what guys? All those things are making their fiendish way across the world and infecting other English speakers! From a nation at the bottom of the world who spoke a fair approximation of the Queen's English only a few decades ago, New Zealand English has now veered across the Atlantic and taken on every mispoken phrase ever broadcast on the silver screen. Our kids even celebrate Halloween now because they've seen it on every US sitcom and demand to do the same. And don't even get me started on bloody McDonalds!

    But at least we can laugh at the Australians for saying 'youse'!

    Great post, Yvonne!

        1. And when I say 'sir', I do in fact mean Madam – now that I've clicked on your link! Heartily agree about the H thing, by the way. Herbs, for God's sake, not 'erbs!

          1. You have made me think of Eddie Izzard's stand-up act where he discusses the differences between British and American language. He talks about the Herbs/'erbs thing ("Because there's a #()*$%#$ 'H' in it.")

  14. I should go and do some work but this is too much fun! My pet peeve is hearing commentators on tv saying the letter 'h' as 'haitch'. Grrrr. It's 'aitch' for godsake!

    Still on the letter 'he' one small rule I would like to see modernized is 'an herb'. Now that we ALL aspirate the 'h' in words like 'H-erb' and 'H-ospital' that old rule no longer makes any sense. Retire it I say!

      1. Too funny! It goes to show that language is indeed alive and changing. And so many of these comments deal with regional peculiarities. Where I live we pronounce our H's with the occasional person still saying 'an 'erb' instead of 'a herb'.

        And Tessa – we say 'cumftabull'. lol

      1. Yvonne, I think you've spawned a rebellion. Language changes, but if we can't understand each other, all we have is babble, as in Babel.

        1. Also very true! And that is why the French don't understand the Quebecois and vice versa. Same language – or is it?

          BTW, I am very rebellious. (but sneaky about it)

  15. Cool! One thing that gets my goat is the use of double negatives, such as "Nah, there ain't none left" or "Naaaah, he ain't left none"! I hate the Nahhhhh to start with and then I just want to turn round and say, "Look mate, you've basically just said that there are some left and he left some, so what are you complaining about?"

    Oh, and I detest spitting in the street, especially when accompanied by that gross hurling sound that sounds like the person was just decapitated. Or decaffeinated, as they said in Hot Fuzz.

    Mmm, I'm turning into Victor Meldrew.

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