In the last couple of days reading two posts inspired today's rumination.  One reflected on the fact that the author is resistant to change. Having been dissatisfied with his previous blog site for some time, he only reluctantly, little by little, moved to Our Salon.  The other piece was a humorous comment on the doorbell that chimes every time someone goes into the Opium Den.

I almost didn't read the second post because there was a misspelling and a grammatical error in one sentence in the first paragraph.  But, I read it because I wanted to to see where the author was going.  It was well worth the read.

I've known for a long time that I'm a grammatical conservative.  The idea that usage determines what is proper in grammar just rankled me the first time an English teacher expressed that opinion. And, of course, the teacher was right.  Obviously, otherwise people would be telling me, "Methinks thou doth protest too much."

Would you like to know what upset me?  The author used "I" as the subject of a prepositional phrase, as in "to my wife and I."  This usage has become so common that, as much as it grates on my auditory nerve, I have to accept the fact that this may be nearing the point where it is accepted as proper.

How did this happen?  I think it is rooted in improper grammar from a generations ago.  Our daughters used to pop into the kitchen and say something like, "Me and Tiffany are going to Annie's."  And we would respond, "You've got to quit spending time with "Mean Tiffany.  It's, Tiffany and I."  **eye roll**, "whatever."  The problem is we got through in a way.  We just didn't make it clear why.  I is the subjective case.  Me is the objective case.  How well would that explanation have gone over with a nine year old?  So, now, even President Clinton has used I as the object of a prepositional phrase.

The problem with usage is that one never knows when one's writing has become  dated.  The use of the impersonal 'one' is, I guess still proper rather than the second person, 'you'.  Still, 'you' sounds less stuffy.  I have to learn to use my ear.  At some point I will know that "to you and I" is accepted, if not standard.

What grates on your ear?




Views: 62

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 5, 2012 at 4:41am

I realize that I open myself up to criticism for any grammatical error I made here or make at any future time. 

Comment by TG DE VORE on October 5, 2012 at 5:31am

Funny what seems important, isn't it?

I've found that the more one writes the better one gets at grammar.Isn't that a good enough reason to keep BLOGGING?

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 5, 2012 at 5:57am

tgwithin it is true that practice makes better.

Comment by Joan H on October 5, 2012 at 1:35pm

Your gripe is my gripe. For some reason, it's like nails on a chalkboard to me...

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 6, 2012 at 4:39am

V., in scientific writing the words "microscopical" and "telescopical" often appear to describe an analysis.  I think the -al adjective ending is superfluous.  I imagine that there is a "logical" source.  Logic is a noun; logical the adjective.  Telescope is the noun, telescopic the adjective.  I imagine that it is the addition of -al to -ic in the word logic that has caused this.  Of course, I may be wrong.  Microscopical could be correct to give a distinction between a thing being microscopic in size and a thing being studied microscopically. What do you think?

I'm not a nit picker about other things.  I'm not sure why these things bother me so much.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2012 at 6:09am

Two things:

"Disinterested." I see it used instead of "uninterested" all the time and it means something completely different. Disinterested means impartial, without a vested interest, as in disinterested party. It does not mean "Don't bother me, this is boring," nor does it mean "you're not sexy. At all."

The other one is the one you cited about subjective/objective. How I figure it out is I ask myself which one I'd use in the singular, where it tends to be more obvious. You'd never see the phrase "to I," which tells you that "to she and I" is also wrong.

I'll tell you one that is changing, and I'm helping it change: the use of "their" in singular cases. Here's why: It's the only convenient way to avoid being gender specific when writing generally. "His or her" gets too klutzy over time. I know that "their" in that case is wrong, but it's the only way to preserve the rhythm of my writing.

I'm also driven nuts by unnecessary apostrophes. I see them used in plurals a lot, where they don't generally fit (there may be an exception after certain last names that already end in S) and I of course see them used in "its" as a possessive, where over time it has been eliminated so as to distinguish it from the contraction of "it is."

So much for Two Things.

Though it might drive some nuts, I tend to blog like I talk, so not all of my sentences are complete sentences. That's deliberate.

Comment by Rodney Roe on October 7, 2012 at 5:08pm

Blogging like you talk makes for comfortable reading, I think.  I also think that incomplete sentences, when the rest of the sentence is understood, is not just acceptable, but preferable, because it sounds more like the way people talk.


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