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Author Topic: The need to avoid mixed-case usage in English - II  (Read 127 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: October 08, 2017, 11:54:38 PM »

We saw in last week’s discussion that a clear understanding of the three case forms in English is crucial to the proper compounding or combining of nouns and pronouns. We then discussed the nominative or subjective case as well as the objective case. Now we will take up the possessive case.

3.   Possessive case – Nouns or pronouns are in this case when they indicate who or what possesses or owns something.




Examples – “This seat is mine while that one is yours.” “Theirs is the glory while ours is the hard work.” (The pronouns “mine,” “yours,” “theirs,” and “ours” are in the possessive case.)

As we all know, the possessive case is actually the simplest of the three cases. The possessive pronouns are virtually no-brainers so we need not take them up in detail here, except to keep in mind that to indicate ownership, the possessive pronouns have their corresponding adjective form modifiers as shown in the chart below. These adjectives modify a noun to indicate who owns or possesses it, as in “Pardon me, ma'am, but your car is improperly parked.”




There’s just one more very important characteristic of English nouns that we need to know before discussing the case rule for compounding nouns and pronouns. By compounding, of course, we mean using nouns and pronouns in combination as subjects, doers of the action, or direct or indirect objects.

That characteristic of English nouns is this: Even if nouns do take a particular case when used in sentences, they don’t inflect or change form except in the possessive case; in contrast, with the notable exception of “you,” the pronouns inflect in all of the cases. For instance, the noun “Elvira” remains as “Elvira” in the nominative or subjective case and in the objective case; in the possessive case, however, it inflects to “Elvira’s.”




Now we are ready to tackle the case rule in English: A noun and pronoun being used in combination to form a compound subject, a compound doer of the action, or a compound object of the verb should both be in the same case; otherwise, the sentence will be grammatically incorrect.

In practice, there’s no need to consciously apply the case rule in the following situations: (a) when the compound subject consists of both nouns, (b) when the compound doer of the action consists of both nouns, and (c) when the compound receiver of the action consists of both nouns. This is because as explained earlier, nouns don’t inflect or change at all in those situations.

RULE OF THUMB FOR COMPOUNDING A NOUN AND PRONOUN AS SUBJECT

But the case rule becomes crucial when a noun and pronoun—or a pronoun and another pronoun—are combined to form compound subjects, compound doers of the action, or compound objects (receivers of the action). The case rule provides that we can’t mix a noun and pronoun—or a pronoun and another pronoun—that are in different cases. When we do, the resulting sentence will be grammatically incorrect.

Here are typical examples of disallowed case mixing:

1. Mixing a noun and the objective-case pronoun “me”

Wrong: “Jenny and me like each other.” (The noun “Jenny” is in the nominative case but the pronoun “me” is in the objective case, resulting in case mixing.)

Correct: “Jenny and I like each other.” (Both the noun “Jenny” and the pronoun “I” are in the nominative case.)

2. Mixing the nominative-case pronoun “you” with the objective-case pronoun “me”

Wrong: “You and me should travel together sometime.” (The pronoun “you” is in the nominative case and the pronoun “me” is in the objective case, resulting in case mixing.)

Correct: “You and I should travel together sometime.” (Both “you” and “I” are in the nominative case.)

This brings us back to the mixed-case construction of Dessang’s colleagues: “Me and my friend are going to...” (The pronoun “me” is in the objective case while the noun “my friend” is in the nominative case, resulting in case-mixing.)

Correct: “I and my friend are going to…” (Both the pronoun “I” and the noun “my friend” are now in the nominative case.)
  
Better still (as matter of good form): “My friend and I are going to…”

We will conclude this discussion in the third installment.

(Next: The need to avoid mixed-case usage in English – III)  October 11, 2017
« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 12:06:27 AM by Joe Carillo » Logged

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