For today’s session with the Grammar Girl I’m going to delve into a smorgasbord of common grammatical errors that most people don’t even realize they’re making. So please pardon the lack of a theme.
For all you fellow Texans (and you other folks who have adapted this word into your vocabulary), this common error goes back to our apostrophe lesson. When you say y’all (or in this case, write it), what you’re really saying is “you all.” So, remember, the apostrophe is replacing one or more letters—in this case, the “o” and “u” from “you.” Therefore, when you write it, it should be y’all. Not ya’ll.
For the record, “theirselves” is not a word. For that matter, neither is “thierselves,” “thereselves,” or “theirselfs.” It is always “themselves.” And please note, there is no correct singular version of this word either—not “theirself” or even “themself.” When speaking about only one person or thing, use “himself,” “herself” or “itself.” But please, please—stop with the “theirselves.”
This poor word has become hopelessly confused and misused nearly 100% of the time it’s said or written.
The “-oid” ending in English is used to indicate that an item is not real. Like a humanoid is not quite human. Originally, “factoid” was an ironic term used to indicate that the “fact” being offered was not actually factual. Unfortunately, the media (I’m looking at you, CNN) began treating the “-oid” as a diminutive—as if it means “small” or “relatively insignificant.” In this way, “factoid” is now used to mean “a trivial but true fact.” And this just isn’t its proper use or definition. So unless you’re prepared to throw this word out sardonically as its origins intended, it’s best to just 86 this term from your vocab altogether.
Greek in origin, the traditional meaning of “myriad” was “10,000.” Today, it is usually used to mean “a great many.” However, because of this meaning, people often try to use it the same as they would the word “ton.” Like, “I have a ton of work to do.” However, because of its origins, “myriad” cannot be used in the same way as other nouns expressing amount.
Many people treat “myriad” as they would one of its counterparts, like “ton.” You commonly see people put “of” after myriad or an “a” before it, like in my “ton” example. However, “myriad” stands alone.
“I have myriad tasks to accomplish today.” And because of this, myriad is best left to more formal writing or speaking.