We all have pet peeves. And the older we get, the more of them we have. My four kids can tell you that my absolute, Number One, top pet peeve (and I’m hoping yours is not redundancy) is when people end their sentences with the word “at.” Whenever someone commits this grammar crime, my kids’ heads whip around to see if I am visibly wincing or able to conceal my pain. It’s usually a combination of both.
We’ve all heard it. Let me see where he’s at. Where’s your car at? What time will you be there at? Where is your mom at?
And if ever they cart me away to the funny farm, and people ask why, you can tell them I was pushed over the brink by a mountain of ats, piling up and pushing me to the edge, until finally I fell down the cliff into the Sea of Insanity. That’s where I will be at.
This isn’t a picky rule, like not ending your sentences with a preposition and causing generations of pedantic people to say, “up with which we cannot put.” It’s a rule that makes sense. When you say “where IS” then you don’t also need AT. When a clerk says, “Where is it at?” it takes Herculean restraint for me not to say, “You mean ‘where is it’.” But kindness trumps rudeness, so I politely refrain from correcting people I did not give birth to. Or, for those of you even more afflicted than I am, people to whom I did not give birth.
The other pet peeve I shall share today is one most people have never thought about, and, possibly, might ruin the driving experience for you forevermore. So stop reading now if this worries you. No? Okay, then I’ll tell you. It’s license plate frames that say “Alumni of” some university.
Now, what’s wrong with pride in your alma mater? Nothing. The problem is that you are an alumnus, if male, or an alumna, if female. No matter how many split personalities you may have, sadly, you are not an alumni, which is plural. I suppose if you and your spouse both attended the school, and you’re both in the car together, then the sign would be correct. But how often is this the case? To sport this grossly incorrect sign discredits your school, no? It would be like displaying a bumper sticker that says, “I’m a atterney.” Or a librarian saying she works in the lye-berry.
Sign manufacturers would do well to come up with a frame that simply says “alum,” which would be singular, and would cover both men and women. Until then, I am keeping my thoughts to myself. Well, except for blogging about them. But we’re civilized folks, most of us, and it’s ill-mannered to correct people with poor grammar in any regard. So if someone asks me where my husband is at, I'll just answer them. And maybe I'll add that he's an alumnus of LSU. Or not.
Grammar fanatics, I feel your pain. You need to read my book, Sisters in the Mix, available on Kindle and in paperback at Createspace.com. I think you'll like the main character.