Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
It’s the middle of June and we’re nearing the end of graduation schedules. That means that quite a few young people will have graduated from high school recently and many other people will have graduated from college or graduate school.
So this is a good time for me to point out that people graduate from institutions. Unfortunately, I frequently hear sentences such as “He graduated high school last week,” and I invariably cringe when I hear that.
The problem with saying “He graduated high school last week” is that you’re changing “graduate” from an intransitive verb to a transitive verb. What does that mean? Basically, you’re saying that the new graduate performed an action on the institution. Remember, institutions graduate students. Students do not graduate institutions.
Does it matter if you say “He graduated high school last week”? Perhaps not, depending on your audience. If your friends always say, “He graduated high school,” you’ll no doubt do the same. However, you should be aware that this usage is considered nonstandard, and in job interviews or other conversations that might have an influence on your future, please say “I graduated from college” rather than “I graduated college” (assuming you actually did, of course).
Monday, February 7, 2011
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I recently had the opportunity to present a program for a local writers’ group on “Grammar and Usage for the Modern Writer.” While my main point was that writers must be aware of the changes taking place in our language, I couldn’t resist discussing some of the changes that bother me the most. Many of the writers shared my feelings.
One of the misuses that grates on my nerves if the very common practice of speakers using the word “I” when they should say “me.” I hear television anchors and reporters, politicians, and many educated people making this mistake over and over.
For example, it is not uncommon to hear sentences such as “John invited Sharon and I to go to the movies with Marsha and he.” We’ve heard this type of usage so often, it’s almost beginning to sound better than the correct version: “John invited Sharon and me to go to the movies with Marsha and him.”
It’s easy enough to determine which sentence is correct if you stop and think about how you would word that sentence if you dropped the proper names. Would you say, “John invited I to go with he”? I suspect not.
Even some of my favorite best-selling authors have books in print with this type of error in them. Although I’ll continue to read those authors, I somehow have a bit less respect for them and for their editors.
After all, while it’s not always possible to stop and work out the correct wording before you speak, it certainly is possible to do so when you’ve written something down.
So if possible, think before you speak, and most certainly, proofread after you’ve written.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Good, because as changes in the English language go, this one appears here to stay.
Many of us have been corrected by someone at some point for saying “Hopefully he’ll be here soon” instead of “Let us hope he will be here soon."
The person doing the correcting probably pointed out that the word hopefully is an adverb and should only be used to mean in a hopeful manner, as in ”Are you leaving soon?“ she asked hopefully.
Fortunately, most grammarians now agree that hopefully has joined other introductory words such as fortunately, sadly, happily, frankly, words that we use to describe the statement that follows.
And frankly, my dear, I’m thrilled that we now accept hopefully to mean...well, hopefully.
Does that make sense?