Grammar grouch strikes again

Sometimes it just builds until one doesn’t want to take it any longer. This is one of those days that I feel that must speak out, even if no one wants to listen. Here it is. Make that here they are, for the sources of my frustration are plural.

A podium is a platform, something upon which one stands to be in a higher position, the better to see and be seen. A lectern is a stand, usually with a sloping top to hold a book or notes for a speaker or reader. One stands behind a lectern to speak or read. One stands on a podium to be in a higher position that one would have been on the floor. A lectern is not a podium. A podium is not a lectern. I wouldn’t advise trying to stand on a lectern.

The apostrophe is the sign used to show that letters or numbers have been omitted, as in can’t for cannot or ’18 for 2018, or for showing the possessive form of a noun, as in the boy’s hat, or with a plural, the boys’ hats. The apostrophe also is used to show the plurals in letters, as in there are two l’s in hell..

These sensible functions don’t seem to confuse us as much as the correct way to use or shun the apostrophe when used with pronouns, particularly but not exclusively the neuter pronoun it. We don’t use an apostrophe to show the possessive with pronouns, but we do use an apostrophe to show missing letters. Here are some examples that might help us clear this up and get it for good.

It’s a mystery how that sock disappeared from the dryer. It’s = it is. The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letter.

The board conducted its meeting in secret. No missing letter. No apostrophe.

What about your versus you’re?

Sorry, I didn’t mean to take your seat. (not you’re seat. You’re seat means you are seat.

You’re in my seat. (You are in my seat.)

Finally, let’s consider I or me. This confuses many of us. The pronoun I is the nominative form, the subject, the one creating action. Me is the accusative or objective form, the object, the receiver of action. We tend to run into trouble when we have plural objects. Examples:

Shirley couldn’t go to the concert, so she gave her tickets to my wife and I. Wrong. It should be to my wife and me. Easy way to check: Remove the first of the two objects. Shirley gave her tickets to me, not to I. Both my wife and me are objects of the preposition to.

Our money is short right now, so a vacation is out of the question for Jane and I. Nope. For Jane and me would be correct. Both Jane and me are objects of the preposition “for.”

It is possible to be the object of a verb as well. The rain soaked Beth and me, not Beth and I. You wouldn’t say or write that the rain soaked I, would you?

Let’s hope not.


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