Sunday, August 17, 2008

Never end a sentence with one

Today, Granny's topic is prepositions and the pronouns that follow them.

Prepositions are words that show relationships in time, space, or position. They include words such as after, against, until, before, over, under, beside, by, between, below, beyond, near, and many others.

A good grammar book will have lists and lists of prepositions, but these few examples give you the idea. The ones you'll deal with most commonly are with, to, of, and for.

If you have used a preposition and a pronoun follows it, that pronoun must an objective pronoun--me, you, him, her, us, them. And if there are two objects, they must both be objective. Don't make one objective and the other subjective (the subjective pronouns are I, you, he, she, we, they).

Here are examples of sentences with prepositional objects, which is what these pronouns are called.

Do you want to come with him and me?

Is it possible for you and him to meet with Barry next week?

The photographer snapped an embarrasing shot of her and John.

The invitation came only to him and Julie.

Because so many people misuse prepositional objects, speaking or writing correctly may feel awkward at first. Once you do it right a few times, however, you'll be more comfortable--and your grammar will be beyond reproach.

Now you try to choose the right one.

Just between you and (I/me), Henry's a bore.

As I said to (he/him) and Frank, Jake needs to be part of the task force.

She seems to feel that the rest of the staff is against (her/she) and Bill.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All about myself

Granny's tip of the day: Don't say myself if you mean me or I. Me is a perfectly good and acceptable word. I think myself is misused so often because as people are speaking, they become uncertain about whether the word they want to use is me or I. They retreat into myself because they think that's correct in every circumstance.

It isn't. In fact, in most cases it's wrong, and if you overuse it, you can sound stuffy and pretentious as well as stupid.

Let's straighten it out. Myself can be used under two circumstances:

To intensify a point about yourself. In this case, myself is called an intensive pronoun, and it usually follows the I immediately:

I myself believe that the boss is lying.

To refer to the subject of the sentence. In this case, myself is a reflexive pronoun and usually follows the verb:

I hurt myself professionally when I said I thought the boss was a liar.

That's pretty much it.

Here's a simple rule: If there's no I in the sentence, there shouldn't be a myself either. And if you mean me, say me. And you always mean me after prepositions such as to, for, between, beside, below, under, over, and many more.

Now you try. Which sentences below are correct? (If you need a refresher on the pronouns, go to Granny's previous post.)

Please send the report to Jasper and myself.

Elisa and myself will take reservations for the company picnic.

When you spoke to Jean and myself about it, you never mentioned the deadline.

My family and myself will be trekking in Nepal next month.

This is a great honor for the department and myself.

If you said they're all incorrect, go to the head of Granny's class. The correct answers are me, I, me, I, me. (As Granny's little grandson would say, "Look, it's a pattern!")

The pronouns I and me are usually sufficient for any occasion. Say them boldly.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The I's don't necessarily have it

Granny's topic for today is the pronouns I and me, because they seem to be a source of great confusion.

I was at a meeting yesterday and two of the people who participated made bad choices when it came to these pronouns. One said, " ... let Sharon or I know," and the second said, "If you are scheduling appointments for Jan, Lisa or I ... ."

Both those folks were just plain wrong. I could explain why by getting into a big discussion of objective and subjective pronouns or I can give you a quick and easy way to say it right without worrying about the grammar. Hmmm. I think I'll choose the second. Here's goes.

If you were asking someone to notify you about something, would you say, "Let I know"? If you would, you're beyond my ability to help. However, my guess is you'd say, "Let me know." And you'd be right.

Just because you add another person to the list of those who should be notified doesn't mean you change the pronoun. "Let Sharon or me know" is correct. If you wouldn't say it in the singular, don't say it in the plural.

It's the same with the second example. Would you say, "If you're scheduling appointments for I"? I doubt it. So, if you wouldn't say it in the singular, don't alter the pronoun just because appointments are being scheduled for more than one person.

The trick to knowing which to use is to take everyone else out of the sentence. When the only person left is you, then you make the decision whether to use I or me.

Give it a try. You'll see that it works.

Please bring a copy of the report for Jean, Harry,and I/me.

Please speak to Phil or I/me before you leave for the meeting.

When the meeting's over, please tell Bill and I/me what the committee decided.

See? It's foolproof. You're welcome.