I’m pretty sure that Americans are getting stupider. Blame it on texting, or computers, or toxins, or bad teachers or whatever you want. But it’s embarrassing to me that 77% of students in Oklahoma couldn’t name the first president of the United States. And 1 in 5 Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth (if you don’t see anything wrong with that sentence, you best pack up and head back to 5th grade) (1).
These days, Fortune 500 companies are spending about $3 billion a year just to retrain employees in basic English (2) because most of us read and write at an 8th-grade level (3). So, if you own a company, you have twelve-year-olds writing your press releases.
I don’t claim to be grammar genius. I make me some mistakes. But FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, PEOPLE. Basic grammar. It’s not that hard.
One thing that drives me crazy is the use of “then” instead of “than” as a comparison word. Like when people say, “I’m smarter then you.” NO YOU ARE NOT. You can ONLY use “then” when you’re talking about something that is subsequent to something else. If you’re comparing two things, use “than.” Like, “If you say you’re smarter THAN I am, THEN I will prove you wrong.” Bam. But here’s how a bunch of 12-year-old-reading-level adults use “then” wrong all over the world:
From a newspaper: “Genetically enhancing intellectual capacities would result in a culture whereby the children are universally smarter then their parents for one generation.” http://www.mjtimes.sk.ca/Opinion/Columns/2012-05-31/article-2992667/Star-Trek-poohpoohs-the-superman/1
GAHHH!!! A NEWSPAPER!!! How can ANYONE hope to be smarter than their parents when NEWSPAPERS teach us awful grammar? Might as well just sign us all up for Chinese sweat shops, ‘cause we’ll be working for them soon. I bet the Chinese have some killer grammar.
And another NEWSPAPER: “Whites earn more then three-fourths of nation’s income”
If only income could be allotted according to people’s grasp of syntax. That would be fair, I think.
Here’s a t-shirt you can buy on the internet: “I’m bigger then you” http://rlv.zcache.com/im_bigger_then_you_tshirt-p235017156292686334envm8_400.jpg
You may be bigger than I am, but I’m definitely smarter than you, so back off.
This Twitter page is called “Be more then average.” https://twitter.com/BMOREMISSES Sorry, dude, not gonna happen.
And finally, the NFL reinforcing every stereotype about the intelligence level of athletes and athlete posses: “Are you bigger then the game?”
Shoot me now.
For the record, in case it hasn’t sunk in, ALL of the above should use the word “than” instead of “then.” And George Washington was the first president of the United States. And the Earth revolves around the sun.