Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Editor Bob’s mailbox

At the end of the preceding post (“Me and him went to town”), I invited people to submit sentences for Editor Bob’s consideration and several readers did so. Some just groused about certain words or grammatical topics. For the benefit of the subset of readers who never bother to read blog comments, I have reproduced the comments below along with responses from Editor Bob:

#1 - This is the sentence I would like Bob to consider: Blogger authorities have sentenced Bob to five years hard labour for pedantry. (from Yorkshire Pudding of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, 11:13 AM, July 19, 2010)

YP, the first rule of editing is “Never pay attention to anyone who uses the word pedantry.” (The second rule is “I before E except after C, or when sounded like A as in neighbor and weigh,” but that’s neither here nor there.) Blogger authorities have authorized me to inform you that your wish is not their command.

#2 - Me and him aint got no quarrel with you’re analysis. (from Ruth Hull Chatlien in Illinois, 11:42 AM, July 19, 2010)

Ruth, I’m not sure whether this is a comment or the sentence you are submitting. In either event, him and you have qualified for a free copy of Marriage Ain’t A Word, It’s A Sentence for illustrating that the floating apostrophe phenomenon (FAPh) can introduce a silent ‘e’ where you least expect it. Awesome! Just send $25.00 to Editor Bob to help cover shipping and handling costs and you’re prize will be on it’s way. Your welcome, I’m sure. And if him and you aint married, I recommend that him and you get married posthaste, as it is getting more difficult every day to find people with whom you can agree.

#3 - you are doing this grqmmer thing cause you miss the ole putz (from Putz in Utah, 12:26 PM, July 19, 2010)

Putz, I don’t know how to tell the old putz from the new putz, but grqmmer is my life, and a sentence should always start with a capital letter, unless you are E. E. Cummings, which (and even whom) you are not.

#4 - And when did ‘those’ become redundant in favour of ‘them’? I can be pedantic, too... Other pet hates...‘for free’, ‘could of’ and ‘your’ for ‘you’re’, or vice versa...and let’s not get into ‘its’ and ‘it's’! (from jinksy in Havant, United Kingdom, 12:42 PM, July 19, 2010)

jinksy, I could of sworn that ‘those’ has never become redundant in favor of ‘them’ but I may not have the latest information at my fingertips because I let my subscription to Editor’s Monthly lapse several years back and they won’t give it to me for free. It’s [note] all in knowing when to use which one. See my answer below to Carolina in #6. Editor Bob tries to be tongue-in-cheek, but Editor Bob is learning that tongue-in-cheek is in the eye of the beholder.

#5 - Here’s one for you, RWP: “Let’s you and me go to town and get them cheese and them license.” I declare under oath (which I take very seriously) that I have heard “them cheese” and “them license” spoken in my presence. (from Pat in Arkansas, 11:26 PM, July 19, 2010)

Pat,thanks for your contribution. Texans would never say “them license.” Texans say “those license.” In Minnesota, however, “them cheese” is an abbreviation used when referring to one’s neighbors in Wisconsin, the longer version being “them cheeseheads.” Saying “Let’s you and me go to town and get them cheeseheads,” however, borders on being bellicose. Perhaps one day when Editor Bob is in more of a subjunctive mood he will blog about alliteration.

#6 - I dare not comment, since I don’t know my whos from my whoms or who’s from my whom’s. But at least I have a good excuse. And just to be sure: he and I went to town? (from Carolina in the Netherlands, 9:30 AM, July 20, 2010)

Carolina, you are 100% correct: The subject of a sentence should be in the nominative case. Objective case is for direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions. This seems simple enough, but many, many Americans don’t seem to know (or care) which is which. Some people don’t know their who’s from their whose, either, but to whom much is given, of him (or her) much will be required.

#7 - Suppose you know the sentence which got author Lynne Truss up on her high horse about the correct use of commas (and made her a fortune with best-selling book on punctuation); apparently a zoo sign regarding pandas should have read “Eats shoots and leaves”, but actually read “Eats, shoots and leaves” ... a gun-toting panda! (from Brian in Catalonia [think Spain but not Spanish], 10:27 AM, July 20, 2010)

Brian, I suppose there are few things worse than a gun-toting panda, but one might be a gun-toting panda with opposable thumbs. Speaking of commas and punctuation, Americans put commas and periods inside quotation marks; Brits put commas and periods outside quotation marks. Both put semi-colons outside quotation marks. I prefer not to think of commas at all until after breakfast. I have done away with the cereal comma.

(End of comments and responses)

Editor Bob is gratified that his sphere of influence continues to expand, Yorkshire Pudding’s opinion notwithstanding. So keep them comments coming, folks, perhaps to this very post, and Editor Bob may let you lovers of language peek into his mailbox again real, er, really, er, very soon.


  1. What about this gem, getting stuck on "that", plagiarized from genius Stephen Fry (for N.Americans, "friend of Hugh Laurie"):
    The teacher explained to the class that that that that that pupil had used wasn't really necessary.

    Or another one, the amazing feat of seven prepositions in a row...
    Boy complains about bed-time reading matter:
    Mum, what did you bring a book to read out of about Down Under up for?

  2. Everyone who appears on Jeopardy! should have to take a good grammar refresher class from you.

    I sometimes read--and write sentences in which a person is trying to be gender sensitive at the expense of good grammar. For example:

    "If a person shoots a duck, they should give it a Christian funeral."

  3. Well... I'm not at all sure that cleared things up for me ;-)

  4. Sorry for the lateness of this comment. I just happened to be browsing through my posts and discovered I hadn't responded to Brian and Snow.

    Brian, to paraphrase something Sir Winston Churchill once said, that is the sort of comment up with which I will not put.

    Snow<, "If a person shoots a duck, they should give it a Christian funeral" is definitely wrong. Your sentence should have read, "If a person shoots a duck, they should give him or her a Christian funeral."

  5. Thank you, Rhymes. I stand corrected, although one might switch the gender ("him or her" to "her or him") if the reference is made more than once.