Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Me is hopeful that whomever reads this post doesn't like this title

This is an offshoot of my "another word I don't like" posts.

I, myself have an undergraduate major in English and can't explain all the transitive, intransitive, intensive, reflexive rules or how to how to choose proper pronouns for subjects and objects on a formal basis. There are rules I follow and those that I don't follow. If you don't accept the following, OK; but, look it up, I'm right.

"Me and Joe." Don't do it. Forget the nouns' relationship with the verb, take away Joe in the sentence, if you would then say me, have at it; but, you wouldn't, so you can't say "me and Joe went to the store." And you can't substitute myself for either me or I. You have to use it with I, but not me. Besides, if you say "Joe and myself" or even "I, myself," though it's proper, you sound like a New York politician.

Hopeful. This one bugs me and I go out of my way to avoid it; but, you aren't allowed to say "hopefully people will understand the wisdom of this post." You have to say "it is to be hoped..." even if it sounds dumb.

Here's the one that I sometimes follow and sometimes don't. "Whom do you love?" is proper usage; but, rock and roll aside, it's stilted and I don't like it. I only write the word whom, I never say it. And I only use the word if I'm writing a legal brief, not a letter or an Email. Use of the word whom depends on who, and how, you're communicating with, to my mind. And, I don't like that sentence even though I'm pretty sure who is the right form of the pronoun. And, yes you can start a sentence with and.

It's a good thing I'm typing this post in a text editor rather than Word; the latter would go crazy.


Rick said...

You and I have had this same conversation while intoxicated. It made more sense then.

Dave said...

Rick, It's kind of like Potter Stewart's famous sentence, which is?

SonjaB said...

My head hurts now

Rick said...

I know it when I see it.

Dave said...

Yes Rick, grammer and pornography.

Sonja, mine hurt writing some of it.

Dr Jenn said...

James Joyce started a lot of sentences with "And".

He also holds (or held) the world record for the longest proper sentence in "Ulysses" and I am thinking it is the hour where the Old Woman speaks... I don't know for sure, that book had what 18 different writing styles from character analogy that happened in one day? I can't remember for sure but I had to read it a few times to "get it".

Jeni said...

Hmmm. A writer -a legitimate writer -who writes longer sentences than I do. And so many thought I should get the award for doing that but then, mine are generally just run-on things and those wouldn't count, would they?
But boy, English -proper English, good grammar, sure can be a damned convoluted thing can't it? And then you have all these words that sound alike but some are spelled -is that spelled or spelt? -alike, some aren't and more confusion. No wonder people come here and many are hesitant to try to learn English! And, for the record, I hate trying to figure out whether to use who or whom and frankly, I no longer give a rip about the correctness of that one cause all too often, whom just sounds weird and incorrect. At least to me, it does anyway. Good post though Dave.

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

As a current grammar curmudgeon and a former English major, I agree and disagree with you.

Your "Me and Joe" example is spot on.

"Myself" should only be used for reflexive emphasis -- "I, myself, did not believe what she said." In this case it is a synonym for "for my own part" or similar. Or you could use it when the action being performed is done by the subject on the subject. "I feed, clothe, and bathe myself." Any other use, to my thinking, is putting on airs.

"Hopefully" doesn't bother me, but now that you point it out, it is frightfully ambiguous. Like the use of "really" -- what, exactly, is it that you are trying to say? "With luck", "if good fortune is with us" is usually the point. Although it could be synonymous with "I am hopeful that..." which doesn't bother me.

Now, your "whom." One really needs to understand when "whom" is proper based on grammar rules, not by feel. If "Who" is the subject of a sentence, its proper form is the nominative form -- "who". (E.g., "Who did that?") If it is either a direct object, an indirect object, or part of a prepositional phrase, it takes another case other than nominative. We don't have formal "cases" in English that I am aware of, but in Latin, German, and Russian we do. Accusative, Dative and Genitive cases are generally used in these situations. So "Who were you just talking about?" is actually incorrect but it sounds correct from common parlance. The correct form is "whom" which can be seen more clearly when you shift the sentence parts around (sounding a bit like Yoda) -- "About whom were you just talking?"

Yeah, it sounds uppity, which is why we usually don't speak that way. But it is correct.

Having an English degree tells one nothing about English grammar, by the way. It can tell you about literature, poetry, themes, foreshadowing, explication, and, most of all, bullshit, but if you want to understand grammar, you are probably best served learning a foreign romantic or slavic language.

Okay. Someone else want to use the soapbox?

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

A small other point, and I feel like a heel for even mentioning it, yet here I go.

It really chafes my ass when people misspell "grammar." It shouldn't. It has no fundamental bearing on me whether someone else does it right or not, but it still gets my goat.

Don't know of what I am speaking? Scan the comments. Perhaps you will notice it....

Dave said...

Dr. Jenn, I never got through Ulysses, much less got to the point where I understood any of the little I read. Congratulations.

Jeni, a big part of the intoxicated conversation that Rick refers to was about the fact that we both learned grammar mostly by reading. And that really brings up a point that was part of the reason I did the post and then forgot to put in it. Rick and I read good stuff, stuff that was grammatically correct. These days the media, print and broadcast, does not write or talk correctly. Me and Joe is rampant especially on TV and radio.

Which brings me to Pos. You are right about college and grammar (and the misspelling of the word - seldom spell-check comments). What little I know about sentence structure I learned in grade school.

Finally, I'm sticking with my original position, and Jeni's, that I don't care if whom is correct, I know when I'm braking the rule and most people that read or hear my violation don't.

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

A simple way to gauge if "who" or "whom" is correct -- if you were to rephrase the statement using "I" or "me", you would use "who" when "I" was correct and "whom" where "me" was correct.

"Who called?" --> "I called?"

"You called whom?" --> "You called me?"

The Curmudgeon said...

"And" is also used to start a number of sentences in the Bible -- and has been commended by prominent reviewing court judges as a perfectly legitimate way of beginning a new sentence.

As for the rest, as Churchill said, there are some things up with which I will not put!

fermicat said...

"Joe and me" is proper if it is the object of a preposition.

Dave said...

I thought the actual rule was I if the pronoun is substituted for the verb's subject and me if for its object. I very well could be wrong.

Dr Jenn said...

who needs ENG 300 I have the comment section to give me an education. I did however scan the comments to make sure I was not the one who misspelled grammar.