5 Tips For Sounding Smarter (And Writing That Way)

Like most everything else on earth involving humans, grammar is prone to flights of fancy. We all remember when you used to be able to say “Ain’t” ain’t in the dictionary!, right? Well, some things remain solid and unmoving. Those things are important to know. Here are five of them.  Smart chicks will dig you. Smart dudes will dig you. Grammarian snobs will sleep more soundly at night. Win-win-win.

1. Learn when to use “I” and when to use “me.”
Here’s what I mean:

Alex is going to meet up with Claire and I. Really? Hmm. Let’s see if that’s true.  Take Claire out of the picture.

Alex is going to meet up with I. Nah.  Sounds odd, right?

Alex is going to meet up with me. And since Claire had long since planned to come along (he’s a bit rash, that Alex, always changing his mind at the last minute)

Alex is going to meet up with Claire and me.

Voilá. It takes less time to do this in your head than it did to read all of that. Promise.

2. Admit you don’t know something.
We all want to be considered with-it. But what if next time someone brings up a topic that you only know from a headline somewhere–whether it’s a political situation, a band or whatever–what if you said, “You know, I don’t know much about that at all! Tell me about it.” Ooh! Controversial. Refreshing, even. (PS, That blank look rats you out anyway.)

3. It’s would have, should have and could have.
Not would of, should of and could of.   “Have” can sound like “of” sometimes, but that’s where the similarities end. Two different words, those. With two different meanings.

4. It’s voilá.
Not wah-lah. So you don’t speak French. Big deal. But if you’re going to use a word, you probably ought to know how to do it right, whether you’re saying it or typing it.

5. Is there a smaller word you could use? Use it. Economy is everything. Sometimes, for the sake of being funny, obnoxious, pompous, and/or all three, verbose is the way to go. But most of the time? Nuh-uh. Keep it simple, sweetheart.

Remember, it’s a wise person who does not fear looking foolish–but it’s just plain dumb not to know what you’re talking about. Right? Right. Consider it value-add. For the world around you.