Mr. Russell’s Classroom: How Good Is Your Grammar?

The Grammar Police are always on the lookout for clear and concise communication…as well as those who violate those standards. Recently we’ve noticed a lot of folks using language they may not realize are unnecessary. Are you guilty? Don’t be ashamed if you are.  Many people are violators and don’t even realize it. That’s why Mr. Russell invited Professor John Carter on today’s show for the Grammar Police Top Five Most NOT Wanted list.  If you’ve been using any of these, you need to stop right now!


Let’s start with number five:

This is one we’ve seen a lot of recently, particularly in light of the terrible wildfires out west. John says he heard many reporters refer to the damage by saying something like…firefighters are working to contain fires spreading across 40 acres of land. Stop!  That’s redundant!

That’s because acres refers only to land.  It’s not a measurement of anything other than land.  So saying acres of land is redundant.  The proper way to say that is, firefighters are working to contain fires spreading across 40 acres.


At number four: here’s one that’s consistently used by reporters, meteorologists, sportscasters, and so many more.  John uses it in a sports phrase:  The Carolina Panthers set a new record today by scoring 100 points.

The thing is…you don’t set old records.  If you set a record, it’s new.  So saying you set a new record is redundant.  All you need to say is, the Carolina Panthers set a record today.


Our number three most not wanted, another common phrase we at the Grammar Police are getting a lot of calls about.

Moving forward. How many times have we heard someone say, well, we’re going to be working a lot harder moving forward?  Um…could you be working a lot harder moving backward?  We’ll totally understand if you simply say, we’re going to be working harder.


Number two on our list:  this is a very common mistake and it shows up everywhere.  John just heard a reporter on a national newscast use it by saying, “the controversy centers around a note that were left in the kitchen.”  If it’s the center…it’s the center…it isn’t around anything. The proper way to say that is “the controversy centers on a note that was left in the kitchen.


And finally, number one on our list of Most NOT Wanted, one that has been around forever and despite our best efforts, will probably never be eradicated.

Well, I could care less about that. You know what I’m talking about!  99.9% of the time when people say they “could care less”, they really mean to say they “couldn’t care less.” Think about it.  When you say, I could care less…it means you do care!  Get it?  I. Could. Care. Less. If you don’t care at all about something it’s, I could not care less…or I couldn’t care less.!

And there you have our top five list of Most Not Wanted.

Many of these most not wanted have been used so much, they’re actually accepted as the proper usage by some dictionaries. The wonderful thing about our language…it truly is a living, breathing thing. So has the time come to just accept some change?  After all, it’s been said that rules are made to be broken!


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