Grammar HINT HINT: Literally

grammar hint hint

One of my hugest peeves is, literally, the incorrect use of LITERALLY. Gurl, literally means just that: the literal thing, the “strictest sense;” that actual thing (see dictionary.com for the literal definition). It has come to be used (incorrectly) as a modifier, an emphases, of a word.

So, let’s give some examples of the correct usage:

  1. The line for the Vampire Weekend concert literally wound around the block. This is the correct usage if, and only if, the line for the Vampire Weekend concert actually, in all truth, wound around the block.
  2. The Hooters waitress who was changing her tire on 75 literally caused six accidents. Again, if the waitress actually was (1) the cause of (2) six accidents, then yes, the usage is correct.

And incorrect usage:

  1. I literally died when Johnny Depp came over and kissed me on the cheek. I think what you really mean here (since I am sure that Johnny Depp, being a really nice guy from what I hear, would feel horrible if this happened) is that this was a very momentous happening in your life, and you are thrilled beyond belief (and maybe a little flustered and tongue-tied), but (I am hoping) that you didn’t actually pass away right there on the spot.
  2. He has literally millions of pairs of sunglasses. Goodness. Where does he keep them all?

I am, however, on the fence about this: I have been through my closet three times and I literally have nothing to wear. Sorry, grammar popo, but even if a girl has a walk-in the size of Cowboys Stadium full of clothing, this could actually be a true statement. I have literally lived this scenario.

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