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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Pronouns

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 nonrestrictive: Most of us have at some point had to grapple with interpretation, pronoun choice, and punctuation for a statement containing essential or nonessential 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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