Monthly Archives: March 2018

To Help You Use the Correct Pronoun


This is a post I wrote in December 2014. I realize that many times people are unsure of which pronoun to use. I hope this information will serve as a refresher for you and will clarify the pronoun morass. Be sure to write me if you have questions.

 

So many people think “I” is a classier pronoun than “me.” It isn’t. Both are equally weighted in the World of Pronouns. If you have used a preposition, you need to follow it with an object pronoun, which is what “me” is. (See list above.)

You wouldn’t say or write, “Janie sent an email to I,” would you? See that “to”? It’s a preposition, and therefore needs to be followed by an object pronoun: She sent the email to ME.

“Between” is also a preposition. I cringe when I see or hear “Between you and I.” Again, it’s ME. Here’s a list of some other common prepositions: for, from, above, under, below, beneath, underneath, near, next to, along, about, down, up, across…. You see they indicate location or direction.

Here are other object pronouns: Her, him, us, them. Whenever you use a preposition, you’ll need one of these pronouns. Don’t say or write, “Between Bob and he.” It’s “Between Bob and him.”

If you use “I” or another subject pronoun, such as she, he, we, they, people are going to shudder. You don’t want that to happen. Use your object pronouns proudly.

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Where Are the Editors?

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This morning I read an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by a man extolling the advantages of couples sleeping in separate bedrooms. Given the situation in his household, he made a convincing personal argument. He ends the essay by writing that the two-bedroom solution might not work for everyone, “but for my wife and I,” it is working well.

OK, so he didn’t know that when deciding between I and me, if you temporarily remove the other person, you’ll immediately know which pronoun to use. He never would have written, “for I, it’s a good solution.” Adding his wife back in changes nothing. It still should be “for my wife and me.”

The author made the error—but where was the editor of the op-ed page of the LA Times? I can come to only two conclusions: either no editor exists for op-ed pieces, or there is an editor but that person also is ignorant about which pronoun to use. Either situation saddens me. You, too?

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Commas for Clarity

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Here are some sentences written without commas. On first reading, you likely will be scratching your head. But read each sentence again and put in a comma; instantly, your confusion will be lifted.

  1. Just as we were ready to leave my brother drove up in his new convertible.
  2. While I watched my uncle assembled the ingredients for a salad.
  3. After he shot the arrow always hit the target.
  4. If you can afford to visit New Orleans at Mardi Gras.
  5. They recognized the document was not complete and announced it could not have been given the situation and time.

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Tearing My Hair Out

I’ve got a lot of hair, but at the rate I keep hearing a particular verbal atrocity, I may be bald by the weekend. My friend Cami in Miami heard this from the mouth of a supposedly literate and sophisticated lecturer and reacted as badly as I do when I hear it. I’m just surprised I haven’t written about this before.

Here goes: DO NOT SAY, “My wife (or anyone else) and I’s (fill in noun).”  “My friend and I’s lunch date had to be canceled.” 

No such possessive “word” as “I’s” exists. I think this problem arises because so many people think I is a classier pronoun than me or my. It’s not. If you need a subject pronoun, use I.  For an object pronoun, it’s going to be me or my. My wife’s and my apartment was painted last week. My friend’s and my lunch date had to be canceled.

The good news is that I have never seen anyone write this horror. You can use the search box on my blog to get more info about “I vs. me.”

 

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Puns Galore

My friend Kathy, another word lover, sent me this list, which I hope you will enjoy. Apparently, an annual contest is held to find the best puns. (Who decides? Members of Punsters Unlimited?)

 

This year’s winning submission is posted at the very end.

 

 

When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.

 

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

 

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.

 

The batteries were given out free of charge.

 

.. A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

 

A will is a dead giveaway.

 

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

 

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

 

When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.

 

Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

 

Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

 

A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.

 

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

 

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.

 

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

 

When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she’d dye.

 

Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.

 

 

    And the cream of the twisted crop:

 

Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.

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Grammar Rocks!

An ex-English teacher friend sent this list to me; if you know me, you can imagine how tickled I was by it. See why you should have stayed awake in high school when your teacher was explaining dangling participles? 
• A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.
 
• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.
 
• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.
 
• Two quotation marks walked into a “bar.”
 
• A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.
 
• Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.
 
• A question mark walks into a bar?
 
• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.
 
• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out – we don’t serve your type.”
 
• A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.
 
• A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.
 
• Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. 
 
• They converse. They depart.
 
• A synonym strolls into a tavern.
 
• At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar – fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.
 
• A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.
 
• Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.
 
• A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.
 
• An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.
 
• The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.
 
• A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned a man with a glass eye named Ralph.
 
• The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.
 
• A dyslexic walks into a bra.
 
• A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.
 
• An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television getting drunk and smoking cigars.
 
• A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.
 
• A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

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