Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Between you and ME – Pronouns are Pesky

I had a dream last night in which I cut off a speaker and corrected her grammar. I guess grammar errors will forever haunt me. Here are the two goofs this figment of my imagination made:

1) She said “between you and I” instead of “between you and me”. Between is a preposition. Prepositions are words that show position (in, on, under, above, beneath) or express a relationship to another word (with, by, at, to, in, for, from, of). Prepositions are followed with an object pronoun. The object pronouns are me, you, him, her, us and them. Most people use the correct form of the pronoun automatically unless they have two pronouns, or a noun and a pronoun, connected by “and” as in the problem above. It’s very easy to check yourself just by mentally adding the preposition in front of the second word.

For example: would you use “me” or “I” in this statement?
She expected to be scolded by John and ______.
By thinking quickly as you speak you can make the little adjustment to your thought process: She expected to be scolded by John and (by) _______. See? You would NOT say “by I”, would you?

2) The second error dreamgirl made was to use a reflexive pronoun incorrectly. I’m hearing this mistake more and more as people use “myself” and “yourself” when they should be using “me” and “you”. For example: “How are you?” “I’m fine, and yourself?” I am so tempted to answer back “Myself am fine” and join the ranks of the language challenged. I’m not being snippy, I’m just tired of noticing these errors that foreigners learning our language would never make. They practice the dialogue “How are you?” “Fine, thanks, and you?”

Reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. You must have the matching subject pronoun in the sentence. You say “I see myself”, “you see yourself” and so on. You do not say “I see herself”.

Many people have started using reflexives when they need a subject or object pronoun. For example: My secretary or Mr. Blanchard or myself will be glad to help you. Think, think, think. You wouldn’t say ‘myself will be glad’, it’s ‘I will be glad’ – so it’s My secretary or Mr. Blanchard or I will be glad to help you. Always check what your sentence would be without the other subjects.

Since dreams seem to tell us things from our subconscious I’m going to go and re-edit yesterday’s project again. I’ll probably find these exact mistakes in my writing.