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Archive for April, 2009

At a friend’s urging, we have added a new category: GrammarGrave for those grammar issues that may no longer be worth pressing.

We will, hesitantly, add to this category as our language evolves (whether we like it or not).

Please stay tuned, and, submit your candidates for burial.

Currently with the morticians:

none” as singular (originated as a contraction for not one). See our earlier post (and comments) “Accepted through misuse

lay” vs. “lie” as to be in a horizontal or recumbent position, or to recline. See our earlier post: “Lie like a rug …

like” vs. “such as” or “as though.” See our earlier post: “Like, totally … NOT

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A reader writes:

“What is the difference between ‘There‘ and ‘Their‘ ?”

First, the grammatical specifics (we’ve also added “They’re“), then, the tips …

1. There

  • the adverb (as opposed to here): in or at that place; at that point in action or speech; into or to that place. “Let’s go there!”
  • the pronoun: that place; that point. There is no hatred among friends.”
  • the noun: that state or condition. “We’ll take you to the next stop. You’re on your own from there.”
  • the adjective: a demonstrative adjective used after a noun. “I read that book there.”
  • the interjection: used to express satisfaction. There! We’re done with this list.” (almost)
  • the combining form (obscure): We will not discuss today.

2. Their

  • the possessive (of they) personal pronoun:  used as an attributive adjective before a noun. “… their house.” “Announcing their arrival.”
  • the gender-neutral replacement: that person. used after an indefinite singular antecedent instead of a definite his or her. “Everyone sings their own tune.”

3. They’re

  • the contraction: short for “they are.” They’re coming our way.”

Tips:

1. “There” includes “here,” so use this when talking about a location or point of action.

2. “Their” includes an “i,” so, be possessive, and use this as a pronoun (as you would use “mine,” “his,” or “hers“).

3. “They’re” includes most of the word “are,” so use this when multiples are doing something.

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GrammarSpammers are at it again.

Here’s an excerpt from what we think is supposed to be a job offer:

“The following report, originally requested by the primal applicant …”

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

primal-applicant-report

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We recently read that a celebrity (can’t remember the name) lost his job.

Us Magazine ran the story with this headline:

“Man Fired Over Money”

What comes to your mind?

Here’s what came to ours:

man-fired-over-money

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A reader submits the GrammarGripe of the day: “myself” and “yourself

So, we venture upon an exploration of self …

~SELF as in: myself, yourself, himself, yourself, itself, but never hisself.

Although we will only talk about the singulars today, know that the same rules apply for the plural versions:

~SELVES as in: ourselves, yourselves, themselves, but never theirselves.

When ~SELF or ~SELVES is added to a pronoun such as my, him, your, her, and it, the pronoun becomes reflexive (directed back on itself).

Think of a mirror; the reflection implying the subject’s action back on itself. Such as:

Someone else just sees her. However, in the mirror, she sees herself. herself

Same for him … others just see him, but he sees himself in the mirror.himself

What’s wrong with these examples?

1. “The horse has bolted, leaving myself steaming with frustration.”

Where’s the reflection? “I,” “me,” or “my” is never the subject of the sentence, so, the reflective “myself” as an object does not match. (The horse would not see “myself” in a mirror.) It should read, simply, “The horse bolted, leaving me steaming with frustration.” Recommendation: make sure the gate is locked.

2. “This serves as your exclusivity agreement between [co. name] and yourself that …”

This gets slightly confusing because “your” is part of the sentence. However, remember that it is the agreement (itself) that is the subject and “yourself” is used, incorrectly, as an object. Therefore the reflection is misaligned. (The agreement would not see “yourself” in a mirror.) This clause should read: “This serves as your exclusivity agreement between [co. name] and you that …” Recommendation: get a different lawyer to write your contract.

There are many usage notes on this topic. If you want more, check out a couple of other sources, including:

myself” on Dictionary.com, and, our favorite:

Legal Lad’s explanations in Grammar Girl’s column from a couple of years ago.

You enjoy yourself!

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corporal punishment. n. bodily punishment (severe handling or treatment), as flogging, inflicted on the body of one convicted of a crime; or as spanking, inflicted on a child by an adult in authority. Can you say “Catholic school?”

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Thank God, they don’t have rulers in their hands.

That would be against our policy on torture.

nuns-with-guns1

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