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Posts Tagged ‘object’

Quite a while ago, we blogged about a grammar error in a TV commercial for Chef Michael’s Dog Food.

See our post: Identity crisis …

“My name is Chef Michael and my dog Bailey and me love to hang out in the kitchen …” Should be: I.

We are very pleased to report that this grammar goof has been corrected!

This is our slogan in action: “we find it, you fix it.” Thanks for listening, Chef Michael’s!

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Goodness … here’s a note from a reader:

This is my latest grammar gripe. It has grown into an obsession. The first time I recall hearing this was in high school (almost 20 years ago), and I now hear it more and more frequently. It makes me want to scream. Have you heard this one? It clearly stems from the hypercorrection of “me” into “I” which seems to be more common these days. People seem to default to “I” even in situations when “me” is correct, such as in, “Please let Chris or I know…..” UGH. So now, it turns into, “This is Chris and I’s issue.” REALLY? Chris and I’s? As far as I can tell, “I’s” is not an appropriate possessive. I was griping about this one day with my equally nerdy grandmother, and she swore up and down that no one says this and I must have misheard. Never mind the fact that I’ve heard this repeatedly, on TV, on the radio (just heard it in an interview on This American Life! To be fair, it wasn’t said by a journalist; it was someone being interviewed), and in person. She said, oh no, no one would say that. HA! So I am curious – have you heard this too? Does it make you as insane as it makes me?

-Elise, an incorrigible grammarian just outside Philadelphia

Elise, all we can say is: yes, Yes, and YES!!!

Dear readers, please see our previous posts: I is not an object … and A note to Felicity …

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Last year, we entered a brief blog post on this subject as our Grammar goof of the day. It went like this:

 Seen in a National workforce report: “… top performers are the ones that will become invaluable … through the economic downturn.” Should be: who 

Apparently, our preference and our usage reflects a strict adherence to an interpretation of the reference to animate vs. inanimate nouns* (see usage note below), and even more strictly, distinguishing human animateness from other life-like forms. 

Yikes, that’s confusing! What do we mean? Simply, we like who for any reference to people and that for any reference to things (or animals).  

We did some research …

WHO –pronoun; possessive whose; objective whom.

1. what person or persons?: Who did it?
2. (of a person) of what character, origin, position, importance, etc.: Who does she think she is?
3. the person that or any person that (used relatively to represent a specified or implied antecedent): It was who you thought.
4. (used relatively in restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses to represent a specified antecedent, the antecedent being a person or sometimes an animal or personified thing)** (see comment below): Any kid who wants to can learn to swim.
 
THAT –pronoun and adjective, plural those; adverb; conjunction –pronoun
 
1. (used to indicate a person, thing, idea, state, event, time, remark, etc., as pointed out or present, mentioned before, supposed to be understood, or by way of emphasis): That is her mother. After that we saw each other.
2. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, referring to the one more remote in place, time, or thought; opposed to this): This is my sister and that’s my cousin.
3. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, implying a contrast or contradistinction; opposed to this): This suit fits better than that.
4. (used as the subject or object of a relative clause, esp. one defining or restricting the antecedent, sometimes replaceable by who, whom,  or which): the horse that he bought.
5. (used as the object of a preposition, with the preposition standing at the end of a relative clause): the farm that I spoke of.
6. (used in various special or elliptical constructions): fool that he is.
  
*Usage note: That is used to refer to animate and inanimate nouns and thus can substitute in most uses for who(m) … Many of the workers that (or who) built the pyramids died while working.
  
**Comment: Experienced writers choose among these forms not only on the basis of grammar and the kind of noun referred to but also on the basis of sound of the sentence and their own personal preference.

So, we were humbled by our research and although we are pleased to have Grammar Girl on our side, we will let up on those (people) who that choose to use that in certain references to humans.

 

What is your preference?

References: dictionary.com, Grammar Girl, Chicago Manual of Style, Prentice Hall Reference Guide, The Gregg Reference Manual

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Have you been to a meeting lately?

THE TWELVE STEPS OF GRAMMARHOLICS (not so) ANONYMOUS

1. We admitted we were powerless over proper grammar—that our grammar had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a grammar greater than that which we use ourselves could restore us to proper usage.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the use of proper grammar as we learned it.

4. Made a searching and fearless oral, verbal, and written inventory of our grammar.

5. Admitted to the Grammar Police, to ourselves, and to a grammar school teacher the exact nature of our misusage.

6. Were entirely ready to have proper grammar remove all these defects of usage.

7. Humbly asked for proper grammar to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all grammar rules we had broken, and became willing to make corrections to them all.

9. Made direct corrections to such grammar rules wherever possible, except when to do so would perpetuate a miscommunication of them or others.

10. Continued to take an personal inventory of our grammar and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through sentence structure and punctuation to improve our conscious contact with proper grammar, as we learned it, seeking only for knowledge of grammar’s will for us and the proper usage to carry that out.

12. Having had a grammatical awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to grammarholics, and to practice these principles in all our communications.

One day at a time …

Copyright © 2010 Grammar Police a.k.a. GrammarCops

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Dear Felicity,

Please see our post: I is not an object …

You have provided several examples to ask your one question. This makes the answer more complex than the one word responses you received on the Web site.

What you ask is, effectively, which should be used as a subject, I or me? “Betty and I (subject) are going out.” is correct here. “Betty and me are going out.” is incorrect. It is not surprising to us that you have heard incorrect usage on TV. We could likely make a living correcting grammatical misuse on TV.

Now, when you move on to your … “Or join Betty and me.” you have changed the question … this is correct because, as we mentioned in our earlier post, “I is not an object …” In this case, me is correctly used as an object.

BTW, we recommend spell checking the title of your post: “… English/grammer

Thank you for your (unknowing) contribution to our blog.

Sincerely,

GrammarCops

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I is not an object … def. –pronoun 1. the nominative singular pronoun, used by a speaker in referring to himself or herself.

Me is not a subject … def. –pronoun 1. the objective case of I, used as a direct or indirect object.

In other words, you don’t speak to I, give things to I, or decide between I and another.

Nor would me speak to others, give them things, or make the decision between a and b.

I would speak to him. I would give things to her, and I would decide between x and y.

And, you would speak to me, she would give things to me, and he might decide between you and me.

The bigger question, and frequent misuse, seems to come when combining subjects and/or objects … mostly the latter. What do we mean?

Here goes …

Please call Mike and ___ . (I or me?)

Terry was speaking to him and ___ . (I or me)?

Pat gave the paper to you and ___ . (I or me?)

How can you decide between her and ___? (I or me?)

Hint: take out the other person, enter the correct form, then add the other person back in … like this:

Please call ___ . (I or me?) Therefore … Please call Mike and me.

Terry was speaking to ___ . (I or me?) Therefore … Terry was speaking to him and me.

Pat gave the paper to ___ . (I or me?) Therefore … Pat gave the paper to you and me.

Get it? Got it. Good.

As we were saying … “I is not an object …”

Learn more about reflexives at our post: Self-exploration …

References: grammarpolice.com, dictionary.com, Grammar Girl

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Today there is lots of buzz around usage of use vs. utilize. What fodder for us!

The tweets (from Twitter) that got us started …

@phoefling to @GrammarCops: “*grammar rant* Whatever happened to the word ‘long’? A perfectly good word that’s been replaced by ‘lengthy’. Yuck!”

@Ms_Austen to @GrammarCops: “your description of ‘long’ similar applies to the word use,’ a perfectly good word often replaced by utilize.'”

@mightyredpen to @GrammarCops: “Up there with perfectly good word ‘use‘ being replaced by ‘utilize.’ Ugh.”

@mattimago (a Grammar Police Deputy) to @GrammarCops: “Utilise vs. use: I fully intend (split infinitive!) to utilise any pertinent points you post. I have no use for poor grammar.”

Then, the topic quickly turned to split infinitives … (upon which we shall dutifully follow-up and utilize in a future post). he he

@ChristinaGayle to @GrammarCops: “I like to use split infinitives from time to time. It makes me feel dangerous.”

Although the word utilize has origins as far back as the early 1800s, it seems that the computer age has put this term front and center. And, regardless of its standing as an official word in most dictionaries, it gets some people riled. Consider this usage note from dictionary.com:

Usage Note: A number of critics have remarked that utilize is an unnecessary substitute for use. It is true that many occurrences of utilize could be replaced by use with no loss to anything but pretentiousness, for example, in sentences such as ‘They utilized questionable methods in their analysis’ or ‘We hope that many commuters will continue to utilize mass transit after the bridge has reopened.’ But utilize can mean ‘to find a profitable or practical use for.’ Thus the sentence ‘The teachers were unable to use the new computers’ might mean only that the teachers were unable to operate the computers, whereas ‘The teachers were unable to utilize the new computers’ suggests that the teachers could not find ways to employ the computers in instruction.

use vs utilize

Here’s a simple and functional distinction:

Use is the general word: (What is used often has depreciated or been diminished, sometimes completely consumed: a used automobile; All the butter has been used.) As applied to persons, use implies some selfish or sinister purpose: to use another to advance oneself. Utilize implies practical or profitable use: to utilize the means at hand, a modern system of lighting.

Plus, the dictionary definitions:

use. verb (used with object).

  • to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of: to use a knife. 
  • to avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes: to use the facilities. 
  • to expend or consume in use: We have used the money provided. 
  • to treat or behave toward: He did not use his employees with much consideration. 
  • to take unfair advantage of; exploit: to use people to gain one’s own ends. 
  • to drink, smoke, or ingest habitually: to use drugs. 
  • to habituate or accustom.
  • Archaic. to practice habitually or customarily; make a practice of.

use. verb. (used without object).

  • to be accustomed, wont, or customarily found (used with an infinitive expressed or understood, and, except in archaic use, now only in the past): He used to go every day. 
  • Archaic. to resort, stay, or dwell customarily.

use. noun.

  • the act of employing, using, or putting into service: the use of tools. 
  • the state of being employed or used.
  • an instance or way of employing or using something: proper use of the tool; the painter’s use of color. 
  • a way of being employed or used; a purpose for which something is used: He was of temporary use. The instrument has different uses. 
  • the power, right, or privilege of employing or using something: to lose the use of the right eye; to be denied the use of a library card. 
  • service or advantage in or for being employed or used; utility or usefulness: of no practical use. 
  • help; profit; resulting good: What’s the use of pursuing the matter? 
  • occasion or need, as for something to be employed or used: Would you have any use for another calendar? 
  • continued, habitual, or customary employment or practice; custom: to follow the prevailing use of such occasions. 
  • Law. a. the enjoyment of property, as by the employment, occupation, or exercise of it. b. the benefit or profit of lands and tenements in the possession of another who simply holds them for the beneficiary. c. the equitable ownership of land to which the legal title is in another’s name.
  • Liturgy. the distinctive form of ritual or of any liturgical observance used in a particular church, diocese, community, etc.
  • usual or customary experience.

use. verb phrase.

  • use up, a. to consume entirely. b. to exhaust of vigor or usefulness; finish: By the end of the war he felt used up and sick of life. 

use. Idioms.

  • have no use for, a. to have no occasion or need for: She appears to have no use for the city. b. to refuse to tolerate; discount: He had no use for his brother. c. to have a distaste for; dislike: He has no use for dictators. 
  • make use of, to use for one’s own purposes; employ: Charitable organizations will make use of your old furniture and clothing. 
  • of no use, of no advantage or help: It’s of no use to look for that missing earring. It’s no use asking her to go. Also, no use.
  • put to use, to apply; employ to advantage: What a shame that no one has put that old deserted mansion to use! 

And then there’s …

utilize. verb (used with object). Also, especially British, utilise.

  • to put to use; turn to profitable account: to utilize a stream to power a mill. 

So, our usage recommendation: use use when not useful to utilize :-).

Source: dictionary.com

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Given several untimely celebrity deaths of-late, and the content of our yesterday’s blog post on the multiple definitions of words, this post is eerily related.

We saw this People Magazine news headline today, and it just reinforced the fact that our English language is complex. Many words have many meanings and perceptions can frequently transport us among those meanings …

“Quincy Jones Tears Up When Hearing Michael’s Music”

(click here for the real story)

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

quincy jones tears up

We are truly not trying to be irreverent here … let’s just take a look at an interesting four-letter word: tear.

1. tear.  noun. pronounced [teer]

  • a drop of the saline, watery fluid continually secreted by the lacrimal glands between the surface of the eye and the eyelid, serving to moisten and lubricate these parts and keep them clear of foreign particles.
  • this fluid appearing in or flowing from the eye as the result of emotion, esp. grief.
  • something resembling or suggesting a tear, as a drop of a liquid or a tearlike mass of a solid substance, esp. having a spherical or globular shape at one end and tapering to a point at the other.
  • Glassmaking. a decorative air bubble enclosed in a glass vessel; air bell.
  • tears, grief; sorrow.

tear. verb (used without object)

  • to fill up and overflow with tears, as the eyes.

tear. Idiom

  • in tears

2. tear. verb (used with object). pronounced [tair]

  • to pull apart or in pieces by force, esp. so as to leave ragged or irregular edges.
  • to pull or snatch violently; wrench away with force: to tear wrappings from a package; to tear a book from someone’s hands. 
  • to distress greatly: anguish that tears the heart.
  • to divide or disrupt: a country torn by civil war. 
  • to wound or injure by or as if by rending; lacerate.
  • to produce or effect by rending: to tear a hole in one’s coat. 
  • to remove by force or effort: to be unable to tear oneself from a place. 

tear. verb (used without object)

  • to become torn.
  • to make a tear or rent.
  • to move or behave with force, violent haste, or energy: The wind tore through the trees; cars tearing up and down the highway; I was tearing around all afternoon trying to find sandals for the beach. 

tear. noun the act of tearing.

  • a rent or fissure.
  • a rage or passion; violent flurry or outburst.
  • Informal. a spree.

tear. Verb phrases: tear at, tear down, tear into, tear off, tear up

tear. Idioms: tear it, tear one’s hair, tear one’s hair out

More coincidence …

Rip is a synonym for tear [tair], as in to break, split, or shred. And, R.I.P., as you likely know, stands for Rest In Peace, which is what we wish for all who have met their mortality.

Source: dictionary.com

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A few weeks ago, we were copied on an email that had this amusing passage:

“You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is “up.”

up

It’s easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken [sic] in the morning, why do we wake up? At a meeting, why does a topic come up? Why do we speak up and why are the officers up for election and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report?

We call up our friends. And we use it to brighten up a room, polish up the silver; we warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and some guys fix up the old car …  At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite, and think up excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed up is special.

And this up is confusing: A drain must be opened up because it is stopped up. We open up a store in the morning but we close it up at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed up about up! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look the word up in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes up almost 1/4th of the page and can add up to about thirty definitions. If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways up is used. It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don’t give up, you may wind up with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding up. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing up

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things up.  When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry up. One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up, for now my time is up, so … it is time to shut up! Oh … one more thing:

What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U-P.”

As comical as this is, we were curious about the claim re: up, “perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word.” For years, we have been under the impression that, in the English language, the word (regardless of the number of letters in the word) with the most definitions is “run.” So, we went digging around …

Here’s what we found out, per the Oxford English Dictionary, about words with the most definitions … the top ten:

  1. set (464 definitions)
  2. run (396 definitions)
  3. go (368 definitions)
  4. take (343 definitions)
  5. stand (334 definitions)
  6. get (289 definitions)
  7. turn (288 definitions)
  8. put (268 definitions)
  9. fall (264 definitions)
  10. strike (250 definitions)

Now we have learned that the word “up” doesn’t even make the top ten, nor does it come close to the two-letter word “go,” which graces the list at position three. However, we also learned that our impression about the word “run” was wrong. Can we even say we were close, being 68 definitions behind the number-one ranked word “set“?

Who really cares? Well, besides those of us who have obsessions with words, grammar, etc., many English language learners care because they want to learn to use our language correctly … bless their hearts. If you are a native English speaker, it’s likely difficult for you to imagine yourself making your way through a language that has almost 500 definitions for a single word, much less navigating its complex set of rules of grammar and usage. Wow!

Here’s one little three-letter versatile powerhouse … Set can be a verb, a noun, an adjective, or an interjection … it can be used with or without an object, and it is the mainstay of many phrases, such as: set about, set against, set ahead, set apart, set aside, set back, set by, set down, set forth, set in, set off, set on, set out, set to, and set up. Set also appears in several idioms, including set forward, set one’s face against, set store by, and get set! (definitions of which you can find at dictionary.com).

We will not list all of the definitions for set, rather, we choose to leave you with this … we’re off to set the table for dinner but we don’t need to set a fire because the 105 degree heat in Austin today set another record. We just watched a set or two of tennis on the TV set before writing this post to set the record straight. We discussed a set of words in our blog after we set the timer on the sprinkler, both of which set our mind at ease. The date is set for our next party at which we hope to set a good example of holiday entertaining. We must set down the pen to type, but we no longer need to set type to print our articles. That beautiful ring we saw the other day is set with gorgeous stones, but it would set us back too much to afford it. We didn’t fall on the stage set, however, once the bone was broken, the doctor had to set it for it to heal properly. Now, having set our minds to it, we’re now going for the set of golf clubs and hit the links … before we set ourselves down and watch the sun set

All set?

 

set

Sources: Oxford English Dictionary, dictionary.com

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A reader writes:

“Using ensure and assure interchangeably bothers me.”

ensure

Maybe using assure upsets the stomach?

Seriously, though, it bothers us, too. Plus, there’s the related word insure. So, let’s explore …

Many thesauri list these as synonyms for each other, so that helps to confuse us further … In general, to assure is to lend confidence, to ensure is to confirm, and to insure is to indemnify (as with an insurance policy) – and insure may have legal implications.

As per the AP Stylebook: Use ensure to mean guarantee: Steps were taken to ensure accuracy. Use insure for references to insurance: The policy insures his life.

Another source adds: Assure most commonly means “to remove doubt about, to guarantee, to set one’s mind at rest.” It is a verbal statement of certainty.

YourDictionary.com presents helpful tips:

To help you remember when to use each word, keep the following three hints in mind:

  1. You assure a person.
  2. You insure your car.
  3. You ensure everything else.

assure. verb (used with object), -sured, -sur⋅ing.

  • to declare earnestly to; inform or tell positively; state with confidence to: She assured us that everything would turn out all right. 
  • to cause to know surely; reassure: He assured himself that no one was left on the bus. 
  • to pledge or promise; give surety of; guarantee: He was assured a job in the spring. 
  • to make (a future event) sure: This contract assures the company’s profit this month. 
  • to secure; render safe or stable: to assure a person’s position. 
  • to give confidence to; encourage.
  • Chiefly British. to insure, as against loss.

ensure. verb (used with object), -sured, -sur⋅ing.

  • to secure or guarantee: This letter will ensure you a hearing. 
  • to make sure or certain: measures to ensure the success of an undertaking. 
  • to make secure or safe, as from harm.

insure. verb (used with object)

  • to guarantee against loss or harm.
  • to secure indemnity to or on, in case of loss, damage, or death.
  • to issue or procure an insurance policy on or for.
  • see ensure (defs. 1–3). 

insure. verb (used without object)

  • to issue or procure an insurance policy.

Sources: dictionary.com, e Learn English language, APStylebook, YourDictionary.com

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