Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dispose vs. Dispose Of: Grammar Police Protect an IKEA Bathroom

On Instagram, grammar hound @jenni_bea shared a goof she apparently spied inside the ladies' room at IKEA.
@snarkygrammar Someone corrected it!
Look carefully and you'll see that, lo and behold, it's true. Some grammatically savvy gal after my own heart has inserted the word 'of' after 'dispose.'

Where does this IKEA notice go wrong? It fails to use the correct idiom. An idiom is a group of words with a meaning not deducible from the meanings of the individual words. In other words, you can't figure out the meaning of an idiom by dissecting its parts.

The idiom in question is dispose of. It is a phrasal verb, also known as a two-word verb. The second word is a preposition, and that preposition changes the meaning of the verb.

  • dispose (v.) - (a) to arrange in order; (b) to lean toward or incline (typically used as a past participle). The general is getting ready to dispose the troops. I am disposed to root for my school's team.
  • dispose of (phrasal v.) - (a) to throw away or discard; (b) to settle or attend to. As soon as the final exam is over, I'm going to dispose of my math binder. The union leader disposed of the controversy. 
  •  Please use the bin provided to dispose of sanitary towels.

If you spy a real-world grammar goof, please share it with me.


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