This became a lively debate in English Class. When it comes to words that are put together to form a sentence or phrase, I was surprised over the difference of opinion as to which words are used incorrectly when building a sentence. It was time to ask an expert opinion. Thanks
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By “construction words” (not a technical grammatical term), we might mean those words that build phrases, clauses, links, and syntax, or modify tense, time, etc., as opposed to adjectives or adverbs or lexical words. Among non-native speakers the most difficult words are probably prepositions, not only because of their multiple uses (on, of, by, etc.) but also because of the fact that many of them also serve as “particles” in verb + particle constructions (“ stood by”, “put up with”, etc.). Secondly, pronouns are easily misused in constructing subordinate and co-ordinate clauses. Even television newscasters misuse “who” and “whom”, for example. Another construction word form often misused is “that” vs. “which” (restrictive vs. nonrestrictive), and of course the highschool teacher’s pet peeve: “between” and “among.” These are my candidates for the most often misused construction words.
Here in the United States, or at least in my part of it, the most commonly misused words include the various homophones of "there." My high school students have a very hard time remembering when to use "there," "their" and "they're" in written English. In spoken English, my students typically say "seen" when they should say "saw." They also tend to say "and I" when they should not. They have the impression that it is always correct to say "and I" and so they say things like "the teacher gave it to him and I."
A lot of these phrases are idiomatic, meaning that it depends on where you live. Prepositional phrases are a great example. In some places you want in line, and in some places you wait ON line. Today my class was reading A Christmas Carol and this one came up.
The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did. (stave 1)
The kids don't usually get the joke, because they don't undertand that "handsomely" means "heavily" here. I have often tripped all over myself trying to explain this one, but basically it is an idiom we don't use as much any more. There is not necessarily a logic, and possibly not a right or wrong, when it comes to idioms.
very interesting, and i must agree, it seems there is confusion over the use of whether You and I or You and Me, or using a name such as John and I or using John and Me
I hear it so many times both ways over the years, that I do not even remember, which is actually grammatically correct anymore.
The confusion between "you and me" versus "you and I" is the same Subject/Object confusion that plagues who/whom. The correct choices depend upon whether the /subject or the Object--the actor or receiver--of the Verb is being spoken of. If I am the Subject, it is you and I will do something: You and I will sing together. You and I go in the Ferrari; they follow in the minivan. Politeness construction puts "you" before "I."
- You and I (compound Subject) will sing (Verb) together (Complement of Subject).
- You and I (compound Subject) go in (Verb, phrasal verb) the Ferrari (Object of Verb); ...
If I am the Object, you will refer to me as "me." You will give me the fruit basket. You show me the latest Hubble images. He appraises you and me, both. The ice cream was meant for you and me to share. She thinks it was you and me?
You (Subject) will give (Verb) [the fruit basket to me (Object of Verb)].
She (Subject) thinks (Verb) [it was you and me (Object of the Verb)]?
Very interesting, I will have to remember this, the comment on who is the subject does make it a little easier. thank you
There has been a movement in the past decade or more to now change the part of speech of certain words. Consider the word transition, for instance. Traditionally the suffix -ion means the "act of" and is a noun suffix. But, nowadays people read or hear it used as a verb. e.g. We will transition you to the next stage. Another noun used now as an adjective is the word fun. e.g. This is a fun thing to do.
Another problematic use of pronouns is that of the vague it. People will speak of several things, and then remark that "it" is very important, or "it" bothers them. Trying to figure out the antecendent for "it" is often difficult. In fact, "it" [better: doing so] is impossible!
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