When I recently asked readers to describe writing challenges they see, one reader responded with this comment:
“Being able to write correctly has saved my editors from having to ‘help’ me. That makes them—and publishing houses in general—very happy. I suggest we also beef up our grammar/syntax so we speak correctly. No more starting sentences with ‘Me and my colleagues’ or using ‘between you and I’.”
This reader isn’t the one noticing these blatant grammar miscues. Watching a recent “Dancing with the Stars” TV show, I counted four times when participants and/or hosts got the pronouns wrong!
Without attempting to overcome years of grammar neglect, let me briefly explain certain common grammar miscues.
“Me and Jack” finished the report. It should be “Jack and I” finished the report.
Rule: When the subject is more than one, you need a subject pronoun (I, she, he, we, they, who).
Clue: Say the sentence without “Jack.” I finished the report. Now it’s easy to tell which pronoun is correct.
“Bob hired Peggy and I to draft the proposal.” It should be “Peggy and me.”
Rule: “Peggy and me” is the object of the verb “draft” and therefore requires an object pronoun (me, her, him, us, them, whom).
Clue: Say the sentence without “Peggy and.” Does it sound right to say “Bob hired I to draft the proposal”? You know it doesn’t! Bob hired me.
“Between you and I, we got the job done.” It should be “you and me.”
Rule: In this sentence, “me” is the object of the preposition “between” and therefore requires an object pronoun (me, her, him, us, them, whom).
“Roger, Lloyd, and myself finished the drawings.” It should be “Roger, Lloyd, and I finished the drawings.”
Rule: You can’t use a “-self” pronoun (myself, yourself, himself, herself, themselves, ourselves) unless it refers to another noun or pronoun earlier in the sentence.
Clue: Look for the referral word that precedes the pronoun.
What writing glitches do you see getting in the way of effective communication? Share them here!