With Microsoft Word’s ‘Spelling and Grammar’ window only a click away, it’s easy to see why this most imporant subject is skimmed over in today’s school curriculum. Why endure tedious grammar exercises and learn the often obscure rules of the English language when the computer corrects your mistakes anyway?
This seems to be the prevailing attitude towards the teaching of grammar, but we sometimes run into difficulty when that familiar green line appears under a sentence and Word instructs us to consider revising our fragments.
Also, what about spoken conversation? There’s no shortcut: we need to at least understand the basics.
In general, Ormondians speak superbly. However, we are human, and when asked how we’re going, are liable to mix up our ‘good’ and ‘well’ on occasion. (Hint: I’m doing good = wrong. Superman does good. You are well.)
Even if you’ve managed to greet someone in a linguistically correct manner, don’t slack off. From here, conversation has the potential to veer into dangerous grammatical territory.
A couple to clear up:
‘Since’ and ‘because’ aren’t interchangeable. ‘Since’ refers to time while ‘because’ refers to causation. Since [the time that] someone pointed out this rule to me, I try to be careful in my usage, because I want people to think I have good grammar.
Often people use the word ‘nauseous’ when they mean ‘nauseated’. To say that you are nauseous in fact means you bring about nausea in other people.
The list goes on:
I cringe when people ask me about the hot temperatures in Perth.
Despite my love for sleeping in, I’m not jealous of the people that speak about their lectures starting at 11am in the morning.
‘Less and less’ has replaced ‘fewer and fewer’.
People mix up ‘who’, ‘whom’, ‘who’s’ and ‘whose’.
I would be willing to put all this aside if people could just get one thing right – the use of ‘me’, ‘myself’ and ‘I’. I can’t understand why people are so afraid of using the word ‘me’, or why people think ‘myself’ should be used in every other sentence.
I hope this summary converts anyone who has fallen into the me-myself-I trap. Most of us have no trouble using ‘me’ when we are the direct object of the sentence, yet many get confused when including other people. If I were, hypothetically, head of a subcommittee, I would ask anyone interested in joining to contact me. If applicants were given an option of whom to get in touch with, I would ask them to get in touch with Fred or me (as opposed to ‘Fred or myself’). See the difference? Adding people to the sentence doesn’t change the appropriate pronoun. If you’re ever unsure, convert the sentence into one in which you are the only subject and use whatever pronoun sounds correct.
Here are some examples:
I am going to Turf –> Fred and I are going to Turf
The tower in the Dining Hall fell on me –> The tower in the Dining Hall fell on Fred, Bob and me
If you feel the need to use ‘myself’, use it for emphasis: “I, myself, love it when people use correct grammar.”
Now that’s off my chest, I promise not to correct anyone mid-conversation (a habit more bothersome than beneficial, I’ll admit). After all, I make mistakes too. I’m no different then any of you.