Wednesday, September 12, 2007

LNS: Grammar Points

While I know many people don't make these mistakes, just as many do. There are a few that I have to address.

Some people attempt to seem smarter by liberally sprinkling I's in the speech. The I is only acceptable when you are referring to yourself as the subject. If you are the object (if you don't know what subject and object means, go buy a copy of The Elements of Style right now. It's 10 bucks. You won't be able to drink for a weekend or go to a movie, but you'll sound more educated after the little bit of time you spend with it), you use me. Examples of both. Correct usage of I: Phoebe and I went on a magic carpet ride with Haji. Correct usage of me: Haji loves to hang out with Phoebe and Me.

Next, shall is one of those terms that was cool when Jane Austen was writing about the foibles of the British Victorians. Now, the term has fallen out of public favor, resulting in its usage in mock irony and pseudo-sophisticated settings. There is a WASP seething at that suggestion right now. But, even with a limited usage, the term is responded to incorrectly. I'm referring to the ever-tricky "shall we?". Whatever you will do (shall is not used for the second person. It is only for the first and third) is immaterial. The primary focus is the shall we. If your first instinct is to respond we shall, your instincts are completely and absolutely wrong. The correct term is yes, let's. There's no argument about this one. That's what you say to someone who ask you this question.

Also, as a general reminder, do not answer the phone "this is him/her." Along with sounding bad, it's grammatically incorrect. You can answer this is s/he. Ideally, you should identify yourself when answering the phone. But, I'm not that classy.

And, there you are. These are just some of the more gross errors that bother me on a day-to-day basis, especially when I hear supposedly well-educated people making such basic grammatical mistakes.