Lois Winston has stopped by today to talk about one of her pet peeves: Grammar Crimes.
by Lois Winston
Do you have a grammar pet peeve? I do. Actually, I have several, and it’s all the fault of an excellent junior high school English teacher who drummed the rules of grammar into me. Thanks to Peggy Riley Hughes at Burnett Jr. High, I can’t shake the good grammar habit. And because of Peggy Riley Hughes, I cringe whenever I hear or read bad grammar. I can’t help it. Those rules are ingrained in my brain. If the world had more Peggys, I’d cringe a lot less.
To boldly go where no man has gone before. Remember that opening from Star Trek? Cringe-worthy! Gene Rodenberry obviously didn’t have Peggy Riley Hughes as an English teacher. If he had, he never would have split his infinitive.
Sadly, because there are so few English teachers like Peggy Riley Hughes, the Oxford English Dictionary did the unthinkable a few years ago — they declared it okay to split infinitives. The horror! What would Peggy say?
Writers have the license to take liberties with their writing. When I write dialogue, I don’t necessarily write in perfectly formed sentences. People don’t always speak in perfectly formed sentences. We speak in sentence fragments. Style often dictates that sentence fragments also be used in narrative. And our characters rarely speak using perfect grammar. They, too, never took an English class taught by Peggy Riley Hughes. And that’s okay. We want our characters to sound real, not stilted.
But there are grammar rules that should never be broken.
The grammar error that makes me cringe the most, is the misuse of pronouns in prepositional phrases and as direct objects. For some reason, many people think substituting the nominative “I” for the objective “me” sounds more intelligent. In reality, it shows they weren’t paying attention in English class. I see this mistake made all the time. Will the OED eventually decide it’s okay to break this very basic rule of English grammar? Peggy Riley Hughes and I both hope not.
So here’s a little refresher course on proper pronoun usage:
There are 3 types of pronouns:
Nominative: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, and who
Possessive: my, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs, and whose
Objective: me, you, him, her, it, us, them, and whom
The nominative form is used when the pronoun is the subject of a sentence. The objective form is used when the pronoun is the direct object of the sentence or is part of a prepositional phrase.
Wrong: He likes Mary and I.
Right: He likes Mary and me.
Wrong: He gave the papers to Mary and I.
Right: He gave the papers to Mary and me.
Wrong: The choice will be between you and I.
Right: The choice will be between you and me.
Do you have a grammar pet peeve?
A Little Bit About Lois:
Award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anasleuth.
Here’s an example of one of Lois’s books, written under her pen name Emma Carlyle.
Someone to Watch Over Me
by Lois Winston, writing as Emma Carlyle
Dori Johnson is in hiding from the Russian Mafia. Six years ago she committed a series of felonies in order to create new identities for herself and her younger brother and sister. They’ve kept a low profile, living in fear of their lives ever since.
When Niles York, Dori’s boss, offers her the opportunity of a lifetime, she turns down the job, not wanting to risk discovery. However, her brother and sister convince her that after six years, she’s unrecognizable, and she can’t pass up such an opportunity. Reluctantly, Dori agrees to become the face and spokesperson for York’s new retail venture.
Jake Prentiss suspects Dori is hiding a secret, and he’s not going to let her jeopardize his friend’s business. As a former government operative, he calls in some favors and starts digging into Dori’s past. What he finds has him convinced she’s out to sabotage York Enterprises. Too bad he’s falling for her.
Dori is falling in love with Jake, but she doesn’t trust him. He works for the government, and she’s a criminal. But then her life is threatened, and she has to make a decision that could either get her killed or put her behind bars for a very long time.
Wow, Lois, that sounds like a plot I can really sink my teeth into. I will have to add it to my reading list.
You nailed it with this pet peeve today. I’m really having to work with my 11-year old daughter on this one, who continually and despite my best efforts starts every sentence with “Me and __________ are…”
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