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 1 
 on: Today at 03:06:08 PM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
For quick access to the Forum’s featured English grammar refreshers and general interest stories, simply click their indicated web links below:

PLAYLIST UPDATE (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) FOR THE FORUM GATEWAY ON FACEBOOK
(22 new postings):

1. An Essays by Joe Carillo Retrospective: “A figure of speech that’s often used to subvert reason and logic” (December 15, 2017)




2. Have Lots of Fun with Some Oldies But Goodies: “70 English idiomatic expressions sometimes bungled by Pinoys” (December 15, 2017)




3. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (12th in a series of 14): “Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (2)”




4. A Forum Lounge Retrospective: “A little bit of history about ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’” (December 14, 2017)




5. A Reading on Language Retrospective: “So what do we do now with all those tired, time-worn clichés?” (December 14, 2017)




6. Language Humor At Its Finest: “Gobbledygooked Christmas song titles quiz” (December 13, 2017)




7. Getting To Know English Better: “The seven uses of noun clauses – 1” (December 14, 2017)




8. A You Asked Me This Question Follow-Through: “The modern English sentence averages 20 words or fewer” (December 13, 2017)




9. You Asked Me This Question: “The differences in sense when ‘will’ or ‘would’ is used” (December 13, 2017)




10. Meditation on Our Digitized World: “The Tree of Life” (December 12 , 2017)




11. Especially For (But Not Just For) Boys and Girls Only: “A kid's view of the Christmas story” (December 12, 2017)




12. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “The pursuit of gossip gets fair hearing in noted writer’s book” (December 12, 2017)




13. Worldly-Wise Advice to Headstrong Kids: “Things My Mother Taught Me” (December 12, 2017)




14. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (11th in a series of 14): “7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (1)” (December 11, 2017)




15. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “Thinking in numbers as effective, pleasant antidote for numerophobia” (December 11, 2017)




16. Advice and Dissent Retrospective: “So now as it was then, this is the world in 854 words” (December 11, 2017)




17. Language Humor At Its Finest Retrospective: “40 choice paraprosdokians to make sense of our lives” (December 10, 2017)




18. An Intriguing Grammar Question: “An English-language conundrum” (December 10, 2017)




19. A Job-Hunting Advice Retrospective: “Is ‘Hi!’ proper to begin a job application letter?” (December 10, 2017)




20. An English Grammar Retrospective: “Deconstructing and understanding those puzzling elliptical sentences” (December 10, 2017)




21. You Asked Me This Question: “How literal adverbial phrases differ from idiomatic ones” (December 9, 2017)




22. Language Humor At Its Finest: “A 38-item Christmas Q&A for language buffs” (December 8, 2017)


 

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GRAMMAR AND MANY EYE-OPENING FEATURES BESIDES!
You thought Jose Carillo’s English Forum is all about grammar? Well, get a delightful
surprise by clicking this link to its Facebook Gateway from July 2017 to date!



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CLASSIC FORUM POSTINGS (8 postings):

1. Two magnificent performances of “The Prayer,” spaced 10 years apart
     (Originally posted January 22, 2017)



2. “The Lovely Clichés Worth Keeping”
     (Originally posted circa 2002   Reposted December 16, 2016)

   

3. Conversations (4): “The real score about Valentine’s Day”
    (Originally posted February 10, 2010   Reposted February 1, 2014)



4. “Did Rizal ever speak and write in English?”
    (Originally posted January 28, 2010, latest update December 30, 2016)



5. “Conversations (2): A serious bad-grammar syndrome”
   (Reposted January 18, 2017)



6. “Anatomy of media stories that Filipina women have the world’s smallest breasts”
    (Posted July 11, 2016)

Playlist Update (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) for the Forum Gateway on Facebook




7. “Lost in Translation” - 1 and 2
    (Posted December 30, 2016)



8. “Indignities in American minor”
    (Posted October 27, 2016)




Click this link to earlier Playdate features!

Visit the Jose Carillo Forum Homepage!

 2 
 on: Today at 02:07:49 PM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
For quick access to the Forum’s featured English grammar refreshers and general interest stories, simply click their indicated web links below:

PLAYLIST UPDATE (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) FOR THE FORUM GATEWAY ON FACEBOOK
(22 new postings):

1. An Essays by Joe Carillo Retrospective: “A figure of speech that’s often used to subvert reason and logic” (December 15, 2017)



2. Have Lots of Fun with Some Oldies But Goodies: “70 English idiomatic expressions sometimes bungled by Pinoys” (December 15, 2017)



3. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (12th in a series of 14): “Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (2)”



4. A Forum Lounge Retrospective: “A little bit of history about ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’” (December 14, 2017)



5. A Reading on Language Retrospective: “So what do we do now with all those tired, time-worn clichés?” (December 14, 2017)



6. Language Humor At Its Finest: “Gobbledygooked Christmas song titles quiz” (December 13, 2017)



7. Getting To Know English Better: “The seven uses of noun clauses – 1” (December 14, 2017)



8. A You Asked Me This Question Follow-Through: “The modern English sentence averages 20 words or fewer” (December 13, 2017)



9. You Asked Me This Question: “The differences in sense when ‘will’ or ‘would’ is used” (December 13, 2017)



10. Meditation on Our Digitized World: “The Tree of Life” (December 12 , 2017)



11. Especially For (But Not Just For) Boys and Girls Only: “A kid's view of the Christmas story” (December 12, 2017)



12. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “The pursuit of gossip gets fair hearing in noted writer’s book” (December 12, 2017)



13. Worldly-Wise Advice to Headstrong Kids: “Things My Mother Taught Me” (December 12, 2017)



14. Dealing With Annoying English Grammar Errors (11th in a series of 14): “7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (1)” (December 11, 2017)



15. A Readings in Language Retrospective: “Thinking in numbers as effective, pleasant antidote for numerophobia” (December 11, 2017)



16. Advice and Dissent Retrospective: “So now as it was then, this is the world in 854 words” (December 11, 2017)



17. Language Humor At Its Finest Retrospective: “40 choice paraprosdokians to make sense of our lives” (December 10, 2017)



18. An Intriguing Grammar Question: “An English-language conundrum” (December 10, 2017)



19. A Job-Hunting Advice Retrospective: “Is ‘Hi!’ proper to begin a job application letter?” (December 10, 2017)



20. An English Grammar Retrospective: “Deconstructing and understanding those puzzling elliptical sentences” (December 10, 2017)



21. You Asked Me This Question: “How literal adverbial phrases differ from idiomatic ones” (December 9, 2017)



22. Language Humor At Its Finest: “A 38-item Christmas Q&A for language buffs” (December 8, 2017)


 

********************************************************************

GRAMMAR AND MANY EYE-OPENING FEATURES BESIDES!
You thought Jose Carillo’s English Forum is all about grammar? Well, get a delightful
surprise by clicking this link to its Facebook Gateway from July 2017 to date!



*******************************************************************


CLASSIC FORUM POSTINGS (8 postings):

1. Two magnificent performances of “The Prayer,” spaced 10 years apart
     (Originally posted January 22, 2017)



2. “The Lovely Clichés Worth Keeping”
     (Originally posted circa 2002   Reposted December 16, 2016)

   

3. Conversations (4): “The real score about Valentine’s Day”
    (Originally posted February 10, 2010   Reposted February 1, 2014)



4. “Did Rizal ever speak and write in English?”
    (Originally posted January 28, 2010, latest update December 30, 2016)



5. “Conversations (2): A serious bad-grammar syndrome”
   (Reposted January 18, 2017)



6. “Anatomy of media stories that Filipina women have the world’s smallest breasts”
    (Posted July 11, 2016)

Playlist Update (Dec. 9 - 15, 2017) for the Forum Gateway on Facebook




7. “Lost in Translation” - 1 and 2
    (Posted December 30, 2016)



8. “Indignities in American minor”
    (Posted October 27, 2016)




Click this link to earlier Playdate features!

Visit the Jose Carillo Forum Homepage!

 3 
 on: Today at 12:23:03 AM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
This is the 12th in a series of 14 essays on what I consider as the most annoying English grammar errors. It is running consecutively here in the Forum from November 7, 2017 every Tuesday and Friday until December 22.

7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (2)

In the preceding part of this series, I invited readers to figure out if the case usage of the following sentence from a housekeeping magazine article is grammatically and semantically correct: “After a couple of months, their newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from Mary Ann and her husband’s bedroom.”


   IMAGE CREDITS: WWW.SLIDESHARE.NET


A reader, Ronald Galura, observed that the sentence is inconsistent in case usage and suggested that the noun “Mary Ann” should also be in the possessive case. Another reader, Jaye Riggs, saw the sentence in an altogether different light. Finding it “too fancy,” she observed: “It even ‘animates’ the object camera by suggesting that it had gone missing. I can almost imagine the camera having two feet and sneaking away from Mary Ann’s and her husband's room.”

Ronald’s observation about the sentence was right on the dot, and I will now discuss precisely what’s wrong with that sentence from a case standpoint. As I pointed out last time, the applicable general rule here is this: For a combination of a noun and pronoun to properly perform the action of a verb or receive its action, or for them to act as the compound subject of a sentence, they should both be in the same case. In other words, nouns and pronouns in different cases should never be mixed. They should all be nominative, objective, or possessive when performing the same grammatical function.

The problem with the sentence lies in the prepositional phrase “from Mary Ann and her husband’s bedroom.” The object of the preposition “from” is the noun “bedroom,” but this noun is being wrongly modified by a noun and pronoun pair in different cases. The noun “Mary Ann” is in the objective case but the pronoun “her husband’s” is in the possessive. This gives the cockeyed impression that there are two objects of the preposition in the phrase—“Mary Ann” and “her husband’s room.”

As Ronald suggested, the case mixing here can be fixed by putting the noun “Mary Ann” in the possessive form in the same way as the pronoun “her husband’s.” The sentence will then read correctly as follows: “After a couple of months, their newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from Mary Ann’s and her husband’s bedroom.”

Now let’s go back to Jaye’s interesting observation about the original sentence. To fix its problem, she said, “I think simplifying it is the key.” Indeed, she suggested the following revisions: (1) “After a couple of months, Mary Ann and her husband lost their newly acquired camera from their room.” (2) “After a couple of months, Mary Ann’s newly acquired camera went missing from her husband’s room. (“Not my favorite,” Jaye said, “since I keep picturing the camera going AWOL.”)

The virtue of Jaye’s first sentence revision is that it not only sidesteps the problematic case mixing but also makes the original sentence simpler and more straightforward. Of course, another way to simplify that sentence and still make use of the compound possessive form is this construction: “After a couple of months, Mary Ann’s and her husband’s newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from their bedroom.”

The semantics of the sentence above is faithful to the original; in contrast, Jaye’s second version unduly changes the semantics by attributing the camera’s ownership only to Mary Ann and the room’s ownership only to her husband.

(Note to Jaye: It isn’t advisable to provoke marital conflict over property ownership just to achieve grammatical simplicity!)

(Next: Wrong pronoun usage for compound subjects)     December 19, 2017)

This essay, 12th in a series of 14, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the October 13, 2007 issue of The Manila Times. It subsequently formed part of the book The 10 Most Annoying English Grammar Errors, ©2008 by the author, © 2009 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

 4 
 on: December 14, 2017, 10:56:41 PM 
Started by Justine Aragones - Last post by Justine Aragones
Sir, what do call the underlined phrase in the sentence below and how can I use that?

Instead of worrying about the past (which cannot be changed) or the future (which may never come to pass) we are called to be mindful, accepting ourselves now and savoring what the present has to offer.

Can I use relative pronoun “which” to rewrite the sentence: “Smoking prematurely ages skin by wearing away proteins that give its elasticity, depleting it of Vitamin A and restricting blood flow.” into “Smoking prematurely ages skin by wearing away proteins that give its elasticity, which depletes it of Vitamin A and restricts blood flow.”



 5 
 on: December 14, 2017, 08:56:49 AM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
In last week’s installment of this series, we saw how noun clauses can be formed by simply using any of the question words to introduce a statement, then making sure that the statement becomes a noun form working as a subordinate clause. For instance, in response to the question “How did it happen?”, we can say “How it happened is still a mystery to me” or “It’s still a mystery to me how it happened.” In both sentences, we have formed the noun clause “how it happened” to become the subject in the first sentence and the predicate noun (or subject complement) in the second. That, in a nutshell, is the basic noun clause construction.


It can be argued though that real-life questions need not always be answered with noun clauses as suggested above. True enough, “How did it happen?” can be answered with a simple, forthright “It’s still a mystery to me” or a plain “I don’t know.” But then again, these answers are obviously not as emphatic and forceful as these two answers provided earlier using the noun clause “how it happened”: “How it happened is still a mystery to me.” “It’s still a mystery to me how it happened.”

One virtue of noun clauses in written language, in fact, is that they tacitly but clearly acknowledge the existence of someone other than the writer in the communication situation. We need noun clauses because we are communicating with people other than ourselves; we are talking to an audience. This isn’t a trivial matter. As many of us must have already discovered, expositions that don’t use noun clauses at all rarely make for interesting reading. All too often they sound so bare and insubstantial and hollow as to be a terrible aggravation to read. This is why good writers and good speakers make liberal use of noun clauses to keep their prose engaging and compelling from start to finish.

Noun clauses not only can make our ideas clearer and richer in texture but also can infuse them with a greater sense of immediacy. In speaking situations, in particular, a noun clause in our response—known as the predicate nominative—serves to reiterate or paraphrase the statement or question we are responding to, thus establishing the context of our response clearly for both the speaker and ourselves. For instance, a response like “I understood perfectly what you said about good English being important in getting a good job” is much more communicative than a laconic “I understood perfectly”—especially if the statement from which it draws its context came much, much earlier in the interaction.


In written prose, on the other hand, the noun clause can make our exposition clearer and more coherent by serving as a summary, transitional, or linking device to prior statements in our composition, as in these examples: “This chapter will take up what happened after Lapu-Lapu slew Magellan in Mactan in 1521.”  “Which of the five alternatives we analyzed earlier is superior should be obvious by now.” “Why we decided to abandon the search has already been explained in sufficient detail.” Without any doubt, noun clauses can be a very powerful tool for communicating our ideas precisely and forcefully.

We can appreciate the semantic value of noun clauses much better by looking deeper into their seven uses from a grammar standpoint. Recall now that the noun clause is basically a subordinate clause working as a noun in a complex sentence. By functioning as nouns, therefore, noun clauses can very well do any of the roles that nouns can do, namely as subject, direct object, indirect object, predicate noun, object of a preposition, object complement, and appositive to a subject or object.

We’ll look more closely into these seven functions of noun clauses next week.



This essay, 1070th in the series, appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the Campus Section of the December 14, 2017 issue (print edition only) of The Manila Times, © 2017 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

(Next: The seven uses of noun clauses - 2)        December 21, 2017

 6 
 on: December 13, 2017, 08:08:56 AM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Gerry T. Galacio
        IMAGE SOURCE: TYLERVIGEN.COM*


A. The modern English sentence is short, averaging below 20 words per sentence.

(1) From "The Principles of readability" by William DuBay:

In 1880, a professor of English Literature at the University of Nebraska, Lucius Adelno Sherman, began to teach literature from a historical and statistical point of view.

He compared the older prose writers with more popular modern writers such as Macaulay (The History of England) and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He noticed a progressive shortening of sentences over time.

He decided to look at this statistically and began by counting average sentence length per 100 periods. In his book (1893), Analytics of Literature, A Manual for the Objective Study of English Prose and Poetry, he showed how sentence length averages shortened over time:

Pre-Elizabethan times: 50 words per sentence
Elizabethan times: 45 words per sentence
Victorian times: 29 words per sentence
Sherman’s time: 23 words per sentence.

In our time, the average is down to 20 words per sentence.

(2) Ellegard Norm: The modern English sentence has an average of 17.6 words per sentence. (From 1978 study by Swedish researcher Alvar Ellegard of 1 million words corpus of 20th century American English writing called the Brown Corpus collected by Brown University in 1964)

(3) "What is Happening to Written English?" at http://harrisonrichard.com/article1.html

Essentially, the sentence has become shorter – quite dramatically. In a study by Brock Haussamen (1994) using text from a variety of sources, the average sentence length was shown to have reduced from 40-70 in the period 1600-1700 to the low 20s in the 1990s.

Year 1600 - 1700: Sentence length 40 - 70 words
Year 1800 - 1900: Sentence length 30 - 40 words
Year 1990s: Sentence length 20s

B. Recommended average number of words per sentence in legal documents:

15 words (Federal Register Document Drafting Handbook, October 1998)
Between 15 and 18 (“Plain English: Eschew Legalese” by Judge Gerald Lebovits, New York State Bar Association Journal, November/December 2008)
18 words (“Appellate Practice—Including Legal Writing From A Judge’s Perspective”, by Judge Mark P. Painter)
20 words or fewer (US Federal Aviation Administration “Writing Standards,
20 words (“Legal Writing in Plain English” by Bryan A. Garner)
20 words (“How to write clearly” from European Commission)
20 to 25 words (“How to create clear announcements” Project on the Use of Plain Language, by Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission”)
20 to 25 words (“Tips for Better Writing in Law Reviews and Other Journals” by Joseph Kimble, Michigan Bar Journal, October 2012)
22 words (“Just Writing: Grammar, Punctuation, and Style for the Legal Writer” by Anne Enquist and Laurel Currie Oates)
25 words (“Mightier Than the Sword: Powerful Writing in the Legal Profession” by C. Edward Good)

C. Comparison of average sentence length of several writers from http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/projects/stylistics/topic6b/auth_style/8auth2.htm

Jane Austen: 42
John Steinbeck: 18.4
D. H. Lawrence: 13.5

D. From "Editing Tip: Sentence Length" at https://www.aje.com/en/arc/editing-tip-sentence-length/

" ... the average sentence length for Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who can be considered representative of a modern English writer with a general audience, is 12 words ..."

E. From " The long sentence: A disservice to science in the Internet age" at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bies.201190063/pdf

If  we  want  the fullness  of  science  in  necessarily long papers to be appreciated, it must increasingly be written in short sentences.

F. From "Three ways to write like Warren Buffett" by Ian Harris at https://www.managementtoday.co.uk/three-ways-write-warren-buffett/article/1334430

But what’s interesting is if you study Warren Buffett’s writing over 50 years, there’s a correlation between success and simplicity. Basically, the richer he becomes the simpler his writing.

• From 1974 to 2013, the average words per sentence falls from 17.4 to 13.4.

• The age you’d need to be to understand his writing falls from 17 years old in 1974, to just 12 years old in 2013.

Despite all this evidence, I still meet people who are scared to make their writing simple. They say, ‘It's all very well for you, but I have to sound professional. We don't talk like that in my business.’
Usually all I do is tell them: if plain English is good enough for Warren Buffett, it’s good enough for you.

G. The longer the sentences, the less readers understand, according to research by the American Press Institute (API).

The research, based on studies of 410 newspapers, correlated the average number of words in a sentence with reader comprehension.

• When the average sentence length was fewer than eight words, readers understood 100 percent of the story.
    
• Even at nine to 14 words, readers could understand more than 90 percent of the information.
    
• But move up to 43-word sentences, and comprehension dropped to less than 10 percent.

Source: https://freewritingtips.wyliecomm.com/2009/11/november-2009/

H. Contrary view by Joseph Williams (author of "Towards Clarity and Grace") and George Gopen (Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Rhetoric at Duke University): It's not the length of a sentence that makes it difficult to understand but its structure.

From "The Science of Scientific Writing" by George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan at https://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~swanson/papers/science-of-writing.pdf

"When is a sentence too long? The creators of readability formulas would have us believe there  exists some fixed number of words (the favorite is 29) past which a sentence is too hard to read. We disagree. We have seen 10-word sentences that are virtually impenetrable and, as mentioned above, 100-word sentences that flow effortlessly to their points of resolution. In place of the word-limit concept, we offer the following definition: A sentence is too long when it has more viable candidates for stress positions than there are stress positions available. Without the stress position’s locational clue that its material is intended to be emphasized, readers are left too much to their own devices in deciding just what else in a sentence might be considered important."

-----
*Find more information about sentence length in literary works by clicking this link to the Literature Statistics page of Tylervigen.com.

 7 
 on: December 13, 2017, 01:49:17 AM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
This very interesting grammar question was asked by Forum member English Maiden sometime ago:

“I have a grammar question about this line from the lyrics of a popular rock-ballad song by a popular American rock band in the ’90s: ‘I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.’ It got me wondering why the modal verbs in it are not the same. Why is ‘would’ used in the first half of that compound sentence and ‘will’ in the second half? What really is the difference between saying ‘You would do something’ and saying ‘You will do something’?”

Here’s my reply to English Maiden:

As taught to us early in English grammar, the auxiliary verb “will” expresses these two major senses: (1) the simple futurity of a particular action, as in “She will get married tomorrow morning,” and (2) one’s determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness at present to do something, as in “I will follow you no matter where you go.” In both senses, “will” inflects to the past-tense “would” in complex sentence constructions like “She said (that) she would get married tomorrow morning” and “He said (that) he would follow me no matter where I go.”


What complicates matters, however, is that the auxiliary “would” doesn’t only serve as the past tense of “will” but also works with verbs to evoke several other senses. I’ll cite only a few of those senses that are directly related to your question, namely: (3) to express an intent, wish, or desire, in “Those who would testify against us will be expelled”; (4) to express choice or consent, as in “The court would terminate the proceedings if it could”; (5) to express possibility or contingency, as in “If she had gone to medical school, she would be a surgeon by now”; and (6) to express custom or habitual action, as in “We would go to our farmhouse during weekends.”

Now let’s take a close look at that line from the song lyrics you cited: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” Here, the first clause “I would do anything for love” expresses the sense of the speaker’s intent to do something. This, of course, is what’s contemplated in Sense 3 as described above, with “would” serving as an auxiliary to the main verb “do” to express an intent, wish, or desire. It’s a timeless declaration of the speaker’s strong determination to do something.

But why, you ask, does the second clause of that compound sentence, “I won’t do that,” use the verb “will” instead? Of course, that sentence actually doesn’t use “will” in the negative sense but “won’t,” the American English colloquial contraction for “will not.” Whether in the form of “will not” or “won’t,” however, the auxiliary “will” works with the verb “do” here according to Sense 2 as described above, which is to evoke not simple futurity but the speaker’s strong determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness at present—now—to do something. It would therefore be incorrect here to use the past-tense “would not” or “wouldn’t.”

As to your last question: What’s the difference between saying “You would do something” and saying “You will do something”? The difference is in the degree of modality or strength of the speaker’s expectation or affirmation of the give action. Remember that “will” and “would” are modals, with “will” expressing a speaker’s comparatively stronger expectation or affirmation than “would.”

So, when someone tells you “You will do something for me,” he or she is practically certain that you’ll do what’s being asked; you are just short of being ordered or commanded to do it. In contrast, when someone tells you “You would do something for me,” the speaker’s expectation isn’t as strong and just amounts to a request.  

This essay, 783rd in the series, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the March 17, 2012 issue of The Manila Times, © 2012 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

 8 
 on: December 11, 2017, 10:25:20 PM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
This is the 11th in a series of 14 essays on what I consider as the most annoying English grammar errors. It is running consecutively here in the Forum from November 7, 2017 every Tuesday and Friday until December 22.

7 – Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case (1)

The use of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case is the seventh major source of annoying grammar errors in English. For a meaningful discussion of grammar errors of this type, however, let’s first make a quick review of what case is and the three forms it takes in an English sentence.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines case as “a distinct form of a noun, pronoun, or modifier that is used to express one or more particular syntactic relationships to other words in a sentence.” Since that definition may sound Greek to you (as it still does to me), and other dictionaries I consulted weren’t of much help either, I would like to offer this plainer and simpler definition of case: It is any of the three forms that a noun, pronoun, or modifier takes to indicate its functional role in a sentence, whether nominative (or subjective), objective, or possessive.

THREE CASES IN ENGLISH FOR NOUNS AND PRONOUNS

Now we will remember from our English grammar that nominative or subjective pronouns are those that perform the verb’s action or act as the subject of a sentence:  “I,” “he,” “she,” “it,” “they,” “we,” “you” (singular), “you” (plural), and “one.” Examples: “I write.” “Gina is lovely but she is snobbish.” “Public office may look desirable but it can be a thankless job.” “The bidders fought viciously but they both lost the juicy contract in the end.” “We enjoyed the meal.” “You [singular or plural] don’t make sense sometimes.” “One wonders if the inquisitors meant well.”


The objective pronouns are those that receive the verb’s action or act as the object of a sentence: “me,” “him,” “her,” “it,” “them,” “us,” “you” (singular), “you” (plural), and “one.” Examples: “The company hired me.” “Regarding Bob and Alice, the company suspended him but not her.” “The cellular phone was very expensive but Mina bought it anyway.” “How come the Reyeses invited them but not us and you?”

And then the possessive pronouns are those that indicate who or what possesses or owns something: “mine,” “his,” “hers,” “its,” “ours,” “theirs,” “yours” (singular), “yours” (plural), and “one’s.” Examples: “This laptop is mine, this one is hers, and that one is his.” “The syndicate wants to develop all of the property together, not only theirs but ours and yours as well.” “One’s character is one’s fate.”

Now, a general rule in English grammar is that for a combination of a noun and pronoun to properly perform the action of a verb or receive its action, or for them to jointly act as the compound subject of a sentence, they should both be in the same case. Put more simply, we shouldn’t mix nouns and pronouns in different cases to do a particular grammatical function; they should all be nominative, objective, or possessive when doing a specific function.

SIMPLE TECHNIQUE FOR FIGURING OUT THE CASE FORM
OF THE PRONOUN IN A COMPOUND SUBJECT


Here are some quick examples to clarify this rule. A sentence that correctly combines two nouns in the nominative case: “Helen and George fell in love.” (That’s a no-brainer, of course.) One that correctly combines a noun and pronoun in the nominative case: “Helen and I fell in love.” (We don’t say “Helen and me fell in love” because it improperly mixes the nominative-case noun “Helen” with the objective-case pronoun “me.”) And one that correctly combines two pronouns in the nominative case: “You and I fell in love.” (We don’t say “You and me fell in love” because it improperly mixes the nominative-case noun “you” with the objective-case pronoun “me.”)

It seems then that applying the case rule is simplicity itself. But now let’s go to a real-world example of case usage, one that I picked up verbatim from a recent housekeeping magazine article: “After a couple of months, their newly acquired digital camera had gone missing from Mary Ann and her husband’s bedroom.”

I am inviting readers to figure out and tell me if the case usage of that sentence is grammatically and semantically aboveboard.

(Next: Usage of nouns or pronouns in the wrong case - 2)   December 15, 2017

This essay, 11th in a series of 14, first appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the October 6, 2007 issue of The Manila Times. It subsequently formed part of the book The 10 Most Annoying English Grammar Errors, ©2008 by the author, © 2009 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

 9 
 on: December 10, 2017, 11:08:40 PM 
Started by Joe Carillo - Last post by Joe Carillo
Ms. Aurora Riel's rejoinder to my reply yesterday (December 10, 2017):

I thank you for prompt reply.  I believe it is called, "The Stewardship Prayer"--may be from the Diocese of Imus.  I'll try to find a copy of the Prayer to send you.

It sounds like a prayer to be generous--to give or act without having to wait for the others (sic).

I think it is the article "the" that grabbed me the wrong way.  This is the first time I have seen /heard "the others" used in this manner.  I found it awkward.  The composer could mean, "other people's lead" or "others to lead"?  "To wait for others to give" could mean "to relegate to others the stewardship responsibility." 

Anyway, I'll send you a copy the moment I find the clerk in charge of the computer and church monitors.

 10 
 on: December 10, 2017, 08:53:32 PM 
Started by Gerry T. Galacio - Last post by Gerry T. Galacio
In history, Yi San is King Jeongjo, 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, and considered as one of the greatest kings of Korea. For more information about the historical Yi San, please read “King Jeongjo an idol of Korean modern media” at http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2989082

This 2007-2008 hit drama is a fictionalized account of Yi San’s friendships and relationships. For the spoiler-free synopsis of the drama “Yi San” (aka “Lee San, Wind in the Palace”) Eps. 1-77 written in Plain English, surf to https://campusconnection.blogspot.com/2017/04/yi-san-lee-san-wind-of-palace-synopsis.html

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