Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Reputation as a Grammar Snob.....

I got this cute birthday card from Nurse Jane, but my brother-in-law actually picked it out. It is so indicative of my reputation in the family as a grammar snob.

I don't really deserve ALL of the reputation. I don't go around correcting total strangers. I don't even correct friends and family members. Hubby routinely makes me cringe inwardly with his complete and total annihilation of the English language. But I never correct him.

When I was a teenager, my step-father Sam decided the entire family needed to improve upon our grammar. He put a jar in the kitchen, and anyone caught in a grammatical error had to put some kind of coin in the jar. Nickel, dime, I can't really remember.

About the second week of this experiment, he decided the jar needed to be thrown into the yard and I needed to be confined to my room for an indefinite period of time. I can't help it if I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person. I didn't just correct the occasional grammatical error. I had to catch them all.

With baseball season upon us, I am preparing myself for the bastardization of our language wrought upon us by play-by-play announcers. Skip Carey was one of the worst, God rest his soul, but he won't be getting on my nerves this season.

Pronouns are among my pet peeves. One of the things I hear them say during a game, and I'm pretty sure they are just bragging that they are on a first-name basis with the players, owners, managers, and girlfriends, is something along these lines:

  • "We ran into Chipper in the elevator this morning, and he was telling Pete and I....."


I want to email them and tell them that the proper pronoun in this case is "me." You use the same pronoun with another noun as you would use if it were alone. You wouldn't say "....he was telling I....." so you don't say "he was telling Pete and I....."

A friend of mine showed me an email she got the other day, something she was supposed to have done and hadn't done expediently enough to suit this person or something, but I got sidetracked by a terrible pronoun reference. It said something like:

  • " accosted James and I after the game....."

Same rules as above.

I know that way back in third grade, someone told us that you should never say "him and me" in a sentence. Well, that's true if it's the SUBJECT of the sentence. But in the objective form, "him and me" would be correct, as in the following sentence:

  • "Mr. Piccolo offered a special reward to him and me for finding his lost cat."
You would say he offered a special reward to "him" and you would say he offered a special reward to "me," so those are the two pronouns you are supposed to use together. In this case the objective forms of the pronouns are used because they are both the object of the preposition "to."

Maybe that's a little too technical, so it's best just to use the short-cut that you use the same pronoun with another pronoun or noun that you would use if the pronoun were alone.

This grammar lesson has been brought to you today by the letters K and T and by the number 8.

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