(Originally published on March 2, 2016)
“I’m correcting your grammar in my head.”
Oh, how I wish I had bought that sign for my office, just to start each day with a grin … or a grumble, depending on the situation.
Here’s one of the ‘grumbles’: Over the past couple of decades, I have become alarmed with the decline in Americans’ grammar. Many schools have curtailed training in our nation’s official language.
When I questioned an administrator about this, I was told they were “…concentrating on more important things.”
I live in a college town and often hear, “Even the professors say X.” That doesn’t mean it’s correct. (Did that whole “If your friend jumped off a bridge…” thing just run through your head? Or is it just me?)
To at least keep us moderately on top of things and sounding professional, here are quick fixes for common cringe-worthy grammar gaffes:
“Him (her) and I went to the store” should be:
“He (she) and I went to the store.”
– or –
“I went to the store with him (her).”
To correct “Me and Marcy share the same birthday”:
“Marcy shares the same birthday with me.”
– or –
“Marcy and I share the same birthday.”
(This also keeps us where our teachers insisted we belong: last.)
Here’s the trick to getting it right
Try mentally pulling a questionable sentence apart. At the very least, we’ll get a good chuckle out of it. Try it with our previous examples:
“Him went to the store.”
– or –
“He went to the store.”
“Me share the same birthday.”
– or –
“I share the same birthday.”
There’s no way we would use either of those first items!
Ending a sentence with ‘me’ instead of ‘I’
Another conundrum we face is the battle between ‘me’ and ‘I’ when ending a sentence or phrase. We are tempted to say,
“He brought the cake to Ron and I before he left.”
“Well, yeah! And we put ourselves last!” Yes, but it should be:
“He brought the cake to Ron and me before he left.”
Solve it the same way we did, earlier. Pull it apart:
“He brought the cake to Ron…”
“He brought the cake to me…”
Your Takeaway: Pausing a moment to think through what we’ll say shows us – very quickly – the correct phrase.
Final Note: In a country (U.S.) becoming increasingly lax with its grammar, let’s stand out in a positive way. Wrestling ‘him,’ ‘me,’ and ‘I’ to the ground is a good place to start.