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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Where I get annoying about grammar. Again.

There are two cases in English - the subjective case and the objective case.


The subjective case occurs in the *subject* of the sentence - part where someone does something.

I snogged.
He snogged.
She snogged.
They snogged.
We snogged.

All those pronouns are subjective.

The objective case occurs in the predicate of the sentence. One acts upon the object.

Harry snogged me.
Harry snogged him.
Harry snogged her.
Harry snogged them.
Harry snogged us.

It also occurs at the end of a propositional phrase (a phrase that begins with a preposition (with, of, to, from, above, below, by, around, etc) and ends in a noun or pronoun called the "object of the preposition.")

Harry was snogged by me.
Harry was snogged by him.
Harry was snogged by her.
Harry was snogged by them.
Harry was snogged by us.

Now, you're all saying, "MamaDeb! We know this! This is basic!"

And you're all right. I rarely see these done incorrectly. So what am I being pedantic about?

It's easy enough when you're using one pronoun. It gets tougher when you're using two pronouns. Actually, most of you get those right, too.

Harry snogged you and her.
Harry snogged them and us.
They and I snogged Harry.

The problem occurs with first person singular. It's been ingrained into us to use "I" rather than "me" in all cases. Therefore, I all too often read this in fanfics (and pro fics) and rpgs:

Draco saw you and I snogging by the Lake.
Pansy is going shopping with them and I.

It also happens with proper nouns and pronouns:

Snape caught Draco and I in the Astronomy Tower.
He danced with both Pansy and I at the Yule Ball.

And I've trained myself to, not ignore it because I can't ignore it, but to overlook it. Beta readers might well think it's proper, and rpgs are often written on the fly so there's no time to revise even if the writers know better. And, of course, they may be trying to use natural dialogue (but do we really speak that way?), but that should be along the lines "Me and Hermione are going shopping," right?

There is a trick, and it's well-nigh infallible. Get rid of the extra people in the phrase. They're irrelevent.

Draco saw I snogging by the Lake.
Pansy is going shopping with I.
Snape caught I in the Astronomy Tower.
He danced with I in the Yule Ball.

Painful, no? If you can't say the sentence without the extra people, it's wrong.

(Honesty compels me to add that this is not perfect. Properly speaking, the pronoun after the verb "to be" (unless it's helping another verb along, as in the shopping example) is subjective, so you say, "It is he." and "It is I," but that sounds stilted. It fits some characters, though.)

ETA: Okay, it's "prepositional", not "propositional", but I was asking to make a mistake of some kind, wasn't I?

Comments

Continue to fight the good fight; I'll be right there with you in the trenches.

Let me note that my immediate supervisor goes so far as to say things like, "Draco and I's meeting was cancelled," and there Is No Fleeping Excuse; he's an educated man!

It also occurs at the end of a propositional phrase

*snicker*

Considering all the talk about snogging, I'm laughing at that freudian slip there.

I knew I had to make some sort of error. I mean, it's a Law and all.

It could have been worse.

I think I'll leave it be.

I must say, I kind of figured this was common knowledge...

Why, I've never complained about this before!

No, no, of course not. Never.

Holy crap! I wrote that *7* years ago!

*boggles*

Glad to see yer on the case.

Making fanfic more than just good fun, but a good example as well!

Glad to see yer on the case.

Yells, "Ouch!" while snogging you and her. Jeez, making bad puns when I didn't even know there WERE cases in English.

*applauds*

Darn straight. I am amazed by the number of people who apparently never learned the "get rid of the clutter" rule for checking these things. I was taught that in high school, or maybe grade school.

Definitely keep fighting the good fight.
I hate what has happened to grammar these days. Mistakes happen (and some of them are pretty funny,as noted above). That isn't the problem. And I think the rules for casual conversation are different. You don't get the time to do the "unclutter check," then. And, frankly, sometimes when speaking, you are going for the impact of the sound less that worrying about correct grammar.
All that said, however, people don't seem to know or care what correct usage is, anymore. And professionals are some of the worst offenders. I grit my teeth through my local newscasts, as the reporters and anchors are all mangling the language and are being highly paid to do so. Grrrr.

Oh, God yes, that's a pet peeve of mine. I couldn't believe it the first time I saw it, and I've even posted about it in my LJ, but nothing seems to help.

I wonder how many people out there are convinced that "Me and Bobby McGee" is bad grammar just because their teachers never told them about cases.

I don't think 'snog' is transitive.

According to here it can be. If it's a synonym for "kiss" or "make out with".

Thank you! It pleases my grammarian's heart that there are still folks who think that "even fanfic" should employ things like grammar and structure.....

You Rock!

And, of course, they may be trying to use natural dialogue (but do we really speak that way?)

The answer, I can tell you unequivocally, is yes.

Is it possible that, being bugged by this as you are, you haven't noiticed it in speech as well as in composition? Because I certainly have.

See, it's only pronouns in English that have two cases. All other nouns look exactly the same as subject or object:

Harry snogged Ron.
Ron snogged Harry.

(Incidentally, pronouns also have two additional possesive forms, which I don't suppose I can call cases as they're adjectives or articles and not nouns, as follows:

That's my wand.
That wand is mine.

As opposed to other nouns, which only have one posessive form, made by adding an apostrope and an s:

That's Harry's wand.
That wand is Harry's.)

However, in, as far as I can tell, English generally, when a pronoun is part of a larger noun phrase, it doesn't change with the context external to the phrase, and when there are no gramatical cues inside the phrase, simply takes an umarked form and the whole phrase follows the rules of English as if it were an ordinary noun and not a pronoun.

Then along came the inventors of standard English, said to themselves, "this is no way for case to work" (probably after consulting Latin, as was their wont), and formulated the rule as you have it above.

Then along came generation upon generation of English teachers, who doggedly corrected their students'

Me and Hermione are going shopping.

to

Hermione and I are going shopping.

With the effect that, rather than learning the rule about how pronouns are supposed to shift cases even when they're inside a larger noun phrase, the students simply stayed with the old rule, only changing the unmarked case of the pronoun from "me" to "I."

Hence the phenomenon you discussed above.

The same process is responsible for sentences like

He's Blaise and I's friend.

Spotted here.

(You can scroll down to find my comment, if you like, but there's nothing really new there.)

But I must ask thee: whither the dative?[*]

(Bringing in the archaic 2nd person singular only because the times this matter has really bugged me have been when folks fail to keep 'thee' and 'thou' straight then accuse me of showing off for knowing how to use 'em. Fercryinoutloud, if they can remember "he"/"him", they can remember "thou"/"thee". I'll cut them a small amount of slack for having to wrap their heads around the verb endings.)

[*] Okay, okay, I've had it explained to me why "hither", "thither", and "whither" aren't really the dative forms of "here", "there", and "where", but they still smell, taste, and feel like datives to me. One could argue that English retains a vestigial genitive as well, less withered than the dative. None of which detracts from your main point of course; I'm just bein' a nitpicky smartass.