Category: Pronouns

Demonstrative Pronouns

Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at 6:00 am

Most writers and speakers of English have a general understanding of what pronouns are, particularly personal pronouns such as you, I, and they. Pronouns have other categories as well, such as interrogative, relative, and demonstrative pronouns. In this discussion, we'll look at demonstrative pronouns. What Is a Demonstrative Pronoun? A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun …

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Their, There, and They’re—What’s the Difference?

Posted on Friday, March 12, 2021, at 9:00 am

One of the hardest things to master in English is the difference among three very similar words: their, there, and they're. Because these words have similar spellings and nearly identical pronunciations, they tend to be commonly misused. Learning to put each one in its correct place is a great way to write more clearly. Or, …

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Me Either vs. Me Neither: Which Is Better?

Posted on Monday, January 18, 2021, at 9:00 am

You have probably come across the phrases me either and me neither in both writing and conversation. Have you ever wondered which is correct? Let’s look at the grammar behind these expressions. Note that unlike pairs such as either vs. neither, these two phrases don’t have precise meanings. Although widely used, they are idiomatic as …

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We the People, or…?

Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 7:00 am

For much of the last two months, we have been analyzing why the subject pronouns I, he, she, we, they and the object pronouns me, him, her, us, them are chronically misused and confused. In this final installment, we'll deal with flawed sentences like Politicians should respect we the people and It's a happy outcome …

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Expressing Possession of Gerunds

Posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at 11:00 pm

A gerund is the present participle (-ing) form of a verb functioning as a noun in a sentence. Example: He responded by laughing. (The gerund "laughing" is the noun object of the preposition "by.") A gerund phrase is a gerund plus another element such as an adverb, an adjective, or a noun. Example: Saving money …

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Two More Reasons Pronouns Plague Us

Posted on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, at 7:00 am

For several weeks now, we’ve been counting the ways that pronouns give us nightmares. Today we’ll look at two more culprits: infinitives and verbs that end in -ing (known technically as participles and gerunds). To form an infinitive, precede a verb with the word to. The infinitive of look is to look. Constructions like to …

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Expressing Possession Greater Than One

Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Communicating joint ownership can be a grammatical no-man’s land for many of us. Whether we were listening, speaking, or writing, we’ve probably found ourselves with statements similar to these: Chuck and Joe’s vacation resorts are in South America. Chuck’s and his vacation resorts are in South America. Theirs and Marla’s meetings are on Tuesday. Marla …

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Shape-shifting Troublemakers

Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, at 7:00 am

No nouns in our language behave like pronouns. The most common subject pronouns (I, he, she, we, they, who, whoever) all become different words (me, him, her, us, them, whom, whomever) when they are objects. Colloquial English has always thumbed its nose at proper English. A seemingly innocent everyday sentence like It’s me is Exhibit …

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I Subject, Your Honor

Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, at 7:00 am

In past discussions of who-whom and whoever-whomever, we passed along a handy memory aid: who (and whoever) = they; whom (and whomever) = them.* That's fine as far as it goes, but it goes nowhere unless we can tell a subject (they) from an object (them). One reason that distinguishing between subjects and objects is …

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To Restrict or Not to Restrict: That Is the Question

Posted on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Who, that, or which; restrictive or non-restrictive: Most of us have at some point had to grapple with interpretation, pronoun choice, and punctuation for a statement containing essential or non-essential information. For example, what would be succinct within the following statements? Jayla always orders the surf and turf that the master chef prepares for her. …

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Sweating the Small Stuff

Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at 7:00 am

At a football game a few years ago, the University of Notre Dame sold soda in cups that said, "Figthing Irish." Did no one at this distinguished school have the time or pride to proofread a two-word slogan? Here are a few other items we've seen and now wish we hadn't … Back to Basics  …

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Pronoun Tips

Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 7:00 am

Pronouns take the place of nouns. Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they Object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, them Rule: Use a subject pronoun, not only as the subject of a sentence, but after to be verbs when the pronoun renames the subject. To be verbs: is, are, was, were, …

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Clearing the Air of Errors in English

Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The adage is true when it comes to our language: Old habits really are hard to break. Notwithstanding classroom instruction, lifelong reminders, correction from others, and even GrammarBook newsletters, certain misuses of English survive like drug-resistant viruses. Yet we grammarians and linguists march on. After all, even the Roman Empire had to give way—eventually. As …

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2019’s Word of the Year is Inclusive, Not Divisive

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Have you heard that Merriam-Webster chose the word they as the "Word of the Year"? And that it was chosen as the "Word of the Decade" by the American Dialect Society? We are not surprised. You probably recall that we ran three articles in July-August 2019 discussing the singular they (How Did They Get in …

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Picking Proper Pronouns: Part II

Posted on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Last week we began our review of using pronouns that help guide rather than trip our written eloquence. We started with pronouns as clause subjects, for objects, before assertive or attributive expressions, and after than or as.  Today we’ll look at pronouns before a gerund, for an infinitive, and for complements of forms of the …

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