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Prose Parade
Grammar and writing basics

December 16, 2009


Okay, here’s the first problem, and it’s a problem with the language. For the most part English doesn’t have declensions (a form of a word that indicates number, gender or case [don’t ask!]) as the Romance (French, Spanish, etc.) languages. But… Of course, there’s a but. We have pronouns (words used instead of a noun) that not only follow an older form of English that had some declensions, but they’re irregular, which leads to the second problem.

In the case of me/I there is much confusion. Much confusion. And, on my part, much anguish.

“I” and “me” are personal pronouns, that is, used instead of a person’s name. These two words are first person. (You don’t really want me to write “nominative case,” do you.) So when do we use “I,” and when do we use “me?”

Well, I just happen to know.

“I” is always and only used as the subject of the sentence. It’s that simple. For example: My friend and I are going to the movies. Elegant.

So, I ask why do I hear, “Me and my friend are going to the movies.”? And this isn’t once in a while. I hear this consistently and constantly from people who should know better and on TV, who may or may not know better. Drop “and my friend” from the sentence. It reads, “Me are/is going to the movies.” Now you know it’s wrong, huh?

Use “me” for everything else. It’s the direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, blah, blah, blah.

December 9, 2009

A Rant About Who/Whom

I hate the word whom. I think it’s clumsy, and no one knows how to use it. Last night, on one of the ubiquitous Law & Order repeats I heard Sam Waterston use it incorrectly.

One of the problems with who/whom is that unlike most of the English language “whom” has a case ending somewhat like the Romance languages. English is not a Romance language. If you get right down to it, English is a mutt.

The case ending means whom is used as an objective. For instance: For whom the bell tolls. See, it’s the object of the preposition “for.”

OK, that’s how it’s supposed to be used. It isn’t; it’s slaughtered. Very few people know how to use it, and so, I recommend we banish it to the heap of archaic language. Let’s just use “who” for everything.

“Who” in all cases works just fine and communicates orally and on paper. The language then is left with the irregular case endings of personal pronouns (I, me, he, she, it, etc.), which we can’t ever get rid of because they’re so ingrained and have no substitutes.

So, fling caution to the winds and stick your chin out (don’t you love the metaphor mixture) and say and write “who.”