Monday, August 09, 2010

Another Grammar Meltdown

Here we have a couple of words and phrases that deal with numbers. First: "between" and "among." Regardless of my mother's use of "Between you, me, and the gatepost," when referring to a juicy bit of gossip that was to go no further, "between" refers to a relationship involving two things. "Between the blue dress and the teal, she prefers the teal." If there are more than two things, the word is "among." "Among the three of us, we had $23." This rule has pretty much gone extinct, but it still grates on my ear to hear "between" used with more than two choices.

Subject/verb agreement is a...heh...subject...that could take me down a lot of different paths, but today's lesson deals with "none." Now, "none" is short for (a contraction so old that it has lost its apostrophe), "not one." As such, the verb should be "is" (singular), not "are" (plural). "None (not one) of us is going to the store."

Really, a lot of grammar is common sense; it's just that nobody has time to think about it any more. To be honest, I couldn't tell you the names of most of the grammar rules or phrases or tenses. I just got lucky enough to be raised by folks who cared about the English language, and spoke it. They encouraged me to read, up to a point. I admit there did come a time where they thought I was reading too much, but that was much later. I had my mouth washed out with soap for using slang. Cussing was pretty much at a minimum, and I shudder to think what would have happened, if I had been so foolish as to try it.

My dad, who was born in 1908, was of the opinion that the English language had peaked in Edwardian England and had been going downhill ever since. We had many lively discussions, as I tried to convince him that language was a process, not a product. I think he was inclined to agree, but he didn't have to like it!

I don't have to like it either, and I won't go down without a fight!

1 comment:

  1. Oh no... now I need to go back and check all my posts to see if I made that error! lol