Friday, July 21, 2006

Today's pet peeve

It's grammar-related. I'm sure almost everyone remembers being a little kid and having Teacher say "don't say 'Bobby and me are going out.' Say 'Bobby and I.'" Teacher was correct, but I am sad to say, s/he is also responsible for a generation of people sounding like idiots. Why? Because they overcorrect. In fact, almost all of you do it. Probably 75% of my friends do it, and I am not friends with dumb people, period. So you have all these smart, talented, successful people who don't know how to speak English properly.

What am I going on about?

I'll tell you what I'm going on about: the very KEY distinction between subjects on the one hand ("I") and objects on the other ("me"). A subject acts on an object. A subject will, for example, talk to an object. A subject will never talk to Bobby and I. A subject might, however, talk to Bobby and me.

People get confused because they think, erroneously, that injecting Bobby into the conversation is what shoves me out of the way to make room for I. This is a misperception. Bobby was never the problem; he can stay, he can go -- but Bobby's place in the sentence is irrelevant. In fact, Bobby should just stay over in his yard so that people will stop aggravating me by leaving me out of the conversation and putting I in my place. Shudder.

When Bobby and I are subjects, using I is perfectly fine. Therefore, Bobby and I are going to the store. Bobby and I like ice cream. Bobby and I like people who don't butcher the English language.

Here's the rule of thumb. Before speaking (or typing! The specific thing that caused me to post this was a myspace slideshow that referred to, we'll say, "Mom taking Bobby and I to the park." I almost killed somebody), ask yourself how you would feel if Bobby wasn't in the conversation. Mom is taking I to the store. If you have a question, talk to I. Look! It's I! If your sentence sounds ridiculous without Bobby, it is probably missing something: me.

Now please stop pissing me off.

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10 Comments:

At July 21, 2006 at 3:52 PM, Blogger odderie said...

OMG, I know exactly what you mean. Not really a pet peeve for me, though. Okay, never mind, it is.

 
At July 21, 2006 at 5:48 PM, Blogger Mlle Smith said...

That was completely funny...and neurotic. Err, I think I'm the same way. Ahem.

My pet peeve would be the misuse of "ensure" vs. "insure". Ughhhh...insure involves a financial transaction! And let's use a comma BEFORE the word "and" in a series of three objects!! (Makes me crazy, really.)

Either, or....neither, nor! Okay, now I'm getting carried away.

 
At July 21, 2006 at 8:33 PM, Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

This has always driven me crazy, too. Big time cringe-effect. And don't forget those who say things like "Bobby and myself went to the park." Arrrrrgggghhhhhh. It all seems so simple, I can't fathom why so many seemingly educated people whose native language is English, people who would never say "ain't" except in jest, don't get it.

Thank you for an excellent post.

 
At July 21, 2006 at 11:47 PM, Blogger lakhawk said...

Wow, a brief childhood flashback...Mom anytime one of us made that mistake as kids: "She gave it to I?" "Me was late?"

My mom's inner business-ed major always used to correct my siblings and I on things like that.

(Ok, sorry, I just couldn't resist that last one. Please know that I'm laughing while you try to resist the urge to poke your eyes out.)

 
At July 23, 2006 at 10:56 AM, Blogger Roonie said...

ask yourself how you would feel if Bobby wasn't in the conversation

HAHAHAHA! This has concept has been my mantra for years. But I don't think it has been summed up so eloquently before this very sentence.

 
At July 23, 2006 at 5:07 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

odderie -- yeah, once you start to think about it, it gets to you!!

noire dire -- hehehe... and so it begins!!

heartinsf -- thanks! Bobby would never go anywhere with myself -- he's always been far too sensible for that.

lak -- I love that your mom made fun of you guys when you goofed. Now I see where you get it ;)

roonie -- why thank you :) You've got yourself a good mantra there :)

 
At July 25, 2006 at 10:43 PM, Blogger La Mitotera said...

I don't understand why someone’s ignorance of a grammar rule would piss anyone off. Given the state of public education, it is reasonable to assume that many did not have the benefit of a good teacher, to teach them the finer points of grammar. In fact, I think it is a little sad that anyone would be pissed at someone for violating a grammar rule that is commonly misunderstood.

 
At July 26, 2006 at 6:13 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Hi la mitotera,

I can see your point, but that's not reason not to have high expectations of people. If you expect the worst of people, they'll usually give it to you. If you expect the best, people might actually give a shit and try.

As for being pissed, I'm sure you understand pet peeves. They're things that you acknowledge are not terribly important but that nonetheless just get under your skin. Every normal person has them. I'm not hating the person -- just his or her bad grammar :)

 
At July 27, 2006 at 12:19 PM, Blogger DarthImmortal said...

Lawfairy,
That has always annoyed me too. The reason I am annoyed by such nonsense it that basic grammar is something every person is taught so why can’t the lessons be applied to life. I agree with your perception of expecting the best from everybody. It is also true if we accept moronic behavior and lower our standards we will constantly be greeted with moronic behavior.

Great post!!

 
At July 28, 2006 at 11:07 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Thanks!

I don't know why bad grammar annoys me so much. I guess it's because it creates imprecision. A misplaced comma (or pause) or a jumbled prepositional phrase can make a sentence say something completely different from what the person intended. Of course, it's fun when opposing counsel does it, because then I can jump on them for it! :)

 

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