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Top 5 Jewish Grammar Mistakes

Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin

Seeing the errors of our grammatical ways

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Help me complete this Top 10 list. I'll start with the first 5.

By
So, you’re learning by Rav Avraham Yehoshua’s? I can tell. The word “by,” much to my mother’s chagrin, has become the Swiss army knife of descriptive words, replacing terms like “at,” “inside,” and “nearby.” I don’t know how the word “by” became so popular, but by me, I am certainly curious.

Brings Down
Many of our favorite grammar mistakes are zecher l’Yiddish. Like the phrase “I’m in middle” instead of “I’m in the middle,” which is from the Yiddish “in mitt’n.” (Fun fact: There is a bagel store in Omaha, Nebraska, that serves an “Egg Mitt” which is also a throwback to its Yiddish customers from decades back that would order a “bagel mitt eggs.”) The term “brings down” crept into our English from the Yiddish term “g’bracht.” Honestly, it’s hard to use the word “cite” when discussing the Rambam. You can cite Maimonides, but it feels more uplifting to bring down a Rambam.

Capitals
Nothing gets a Jew more excited when writing than random capitalizations. He was a Gadol B’Torah? Sure, sounds right. Why not capitalize Lulav? Nothing is more random and whimsical than our rules for capitalization. And why not? When it comes to the Roshei Teivos — YOLO!

Besides for
This is super nitpicky and would only be noticed by a disgruntled copy editor, but the word “for” should not be tagged on the word “besides.” “Who else is coming, besides for the Ringles?” That “for” following “besides” is getting clingy and should find a new friend to hang out with. I know it doesn’t sound like a major issue, but that’s beside the point.

Hold of
So, you hold of him? I don’t know how this became so popular, and while it is not correct English, I definitely love it. Sometimes it feels like we’re all competing in the Holding Of Olympics. Gold medal prize goes to the person who everyone holds of — but personally holds of no one. 


Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 706. Special thanks to my favorite un-gruntled copy editor Refoel Pride, and Sarah “Just the Best” Boczko.

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