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Old 12-29-2006, 01:12 PM
FormerMarineGuy FormerMarineGuy is offline
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I did something on accident. Correct English?

I was just talking to a friend at work and he told me that I always say something incorrectly. Example:

I dial the number and realize I was not meaning to call him, so I say "I called you on accident, sorry".

He says I should be saying 'by accident'. Am I an non-English speaking moron?
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:16 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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No, but your friend is right.

I would mention that it should be "a (not an) non-English speaking moron", but that would be piling on, plus I probably left out a necessary hyphen or something.
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:22 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Jack's right, but it does make me wonder why we say "by accident" but "on purpose". Never really noticed that before.
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:22 PM
FormerMarineGuy FormerMarineGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackmannii
No, but your friend is right.

I would mention that it should be "a (not an) non-English speaking moron", but that would be piling on, plus I probably left out a necessary hyphen or something.
DAMN. I know that! What the hell is wrong with me?????
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:55 PM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Rather than "incorrect" usage, I prefer the term "nonstandard". Remember that today's "errors" become tomorrow's proper grammar. I pretty much guarantee that what will be considered correct English 100 years from now would utterly grate on the nerves of a grammarian today.
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Old 12-29-2006, 02:40 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Q.E.D.
Rather than "incorrect" usage, I prefer the term "nonstandard". Remember that today's "errors" become tomorrow's proper grammar.
Some of them, yes. But when they do, I don't see anything wrong with saying "This usage used to be considered incorrect, but is now correct English". "Nonstandard" is okay too, I guess, but smacks rather of PC euphemism, like "differently abled" for "disabled".

In any case, I doubt that MarineGuy's idiosyncratic use of "on accident" for "by accident" is going to become standard any time soon. "By accident" has been going strong for at least 400 years already:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shakespeare in Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1
KING CLAUDIUS: Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia:
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Old 12-29-2006, 02:46 PM
FormerMarineGuy FormerMarineGuy is offline
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Wow, even the urban dictionary is against me.
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Old 12-29-2006, 03:24 PM
yabob yabob is offline
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OTOH, it appears that another "incorrect" prepositional usage is now merely "informal" - using "off" or "off of" instead of "from". The prevalence of online shopping may have something to do with this - "I bought that book off [of] Fred." somehow sounds wrong, where "I bought that book off [of] Amazon." sounds OK. Perhaps because Amazon is something you get "on" to shop at.
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Old 12-29-2006, 06:13 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerMarineGuy
What the hell is wrong with me?????
Since this is GQ, do you want a factual answer to this?

BTW, you could have just said, "accidentally."
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Old 12-29-2006, 06:24 PM
blinkingblinking blinkingblinking is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerMarineGuy
I was just talking to a friend at work and he told me that I always say something incorrectly. Example:

I dial the number and realize I was not meaning to call him, so I say "I called you on accident, sorry".

He says I should be saying 'by accident'. Am I an non-English speaking moron?
'I called you by accident' is an odd sentence. Were you trying to change channels and picked up your phone by mistake. It sounds better to say 'Sorry, wrong number. I meant to dial someone else.'
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:45 AM
glee glee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerMarineGuy
I was just talking to a friend at work and he told me that I always say something incorrectly. Example:

I dial the number and realize I was not meaning to call him, so I say "I called you on accident, sorry".

He says I should be saying 'by accident'. Am I an non-English speaking moron?
It's probably just a regional thing, but your use of phrases and tenses is slightly different from mine. (I'm from England.)

I would say "I was talking to a friend at work and he told me that I always use inaccurate English"
and "I dialled the number and realise I did not mean to call him".

The English department at my School state that as long as people understand you, it's 'transactional English' and not worth worrying about.
Unless you want to teach English...
  #12  
Old 12-30-2006, 03:46 AM
glee glee is offline
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and "I dialled the number and realised I did not mean to call him".
  #13  
Old 12-30-2006, 05:34 AM
AngelicGemma AngelicGemma is offline
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I've never heard anyone say 'on accident' before.

Crazy Americans.
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