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Thursday, February 5. 2009
AVI saved me the trouble of doing a post on "whom." It's one of those words, like "shall," with which the youngsters, who were not taught grammar, have trouble.
I agree that "whom" does sound a bit stiff when it doesn't directly follow a preposition, as in the casual "Whom shall I deliver it to?" Over time, the line between formal, genteel English, and informal English, is disappearing.
You still can't say "To who..." though. Makes you sound like a hoot owl.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:22 | Comments (21) | Trackbacks (0)
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``To who'' is a register mistake, not a case mistake.
``Who'' is modern English everywhere else.
Since most people can't tell whether it should be ``who'' or ``whom'' anyway, instruct them to use ``who'' everywhere.
(Example lying around
``To who'' is a register mistake because fronting the preposition is formal register, and using ``who'' for ``whom'' is informal register.
``Who should I give it to?'' is perfectly acceptable though.
Around here the owls say "whom" but the boys still get after them with slingshots.
""Whom shall I deliver it to?""
Syntax error with the preposition ending the sentence. Kind of a double whammy there.
'For Who the Bell Tolls'. Use that as your error calculator.
Agree this one is tough, but your ear should tell you which to use.
Meta is on the right track. It should read," To whom shall I deliver it?"
The one item that grates me the most is the incorrect usage of " amount." You can have an amount of snow, rice, coal or any other group noun that cannot be enumerated. You use "number" when referring to such things as people, forks, cars etc. You have a number of dollars but an amount of money.
If this persists, I'd like someone to give a definitive discourse on "effect" vs. "affect" and find one other grammar guru with whom they extemporaneously can come to complete agreement.
Doh!...I suppose that should be "the definitive". Kind of jumps out at you on second look...on the other hand, in the context of my point...whatevah...
The effect of too many calories is weight gain. NOUN
What you eat can affect your weight. VERB
Here's the problem: AFFECT can be used as a noun as in:
The drug produced a flat affect in her countenance, and it made her look drugged.
Or, for fun: He affected the air of a buffoon in order to maintain his silly affect.
:) oh well.
Yeah, Meta, but that use of "affect" as a noun is the problem. Can you 'splain why that is? Or better yet, can you 'splain why the language would need to provide such complexity as to virtually require an advanced degree to 'splain the justification for that complexity in the first place (no I don't understand what I just said either, but yet I do)? English is a mighty damn hard language to learn in the first place, as many of my EAASL friends tell me. See my note to JoeC below...
I didn't put this in earlier, but both 'affect' and 'effect' can be used as nouns and verbs. I left the 'effect' as verb out because you don't see it much.
Nature always effected a cure. (bring about, to happen.)
Fun, hunh? :)
Most cannot tell the difference between the subject and object of a sentence which is why who and whom make no difference. Shall and will, ha, 1st person and 2nd or 3rd? is all the same. Grammar is an actor on TV.
Philosophy 101 and remedial Eng. in freshman year explains everything.
Heaven forfend you should ask what is a gerund!
I'm the illiterate here... but for some reason I'm reminded of the RC church and Latin. If you didn't know it, you obviously didn't know a damn thing because you didn't speak the lingua franca. No question there should be some agreed upon rules, so we can at least understand each other. But... it's just change, folks... and not much can be done to stop it. At best it might be slowed down. At times it seems as if an 'educated' opinion is worth more than others. That is a fallacy in my opinion, not to mention my experience. But then... I received my meager education before the onslaught of PC. The rest I learned through osmosis. So you good folks help me to continue to learn. I appreciate it.
Churchill's comment on the subject: "This is the sort of arrant nonsense up with which I will not put", or something like that. Typical Churchill annoyance/crankiness makes it good for a laugh. It is fun, though, to agonize over such word choice and word order. What do The New Yorker editors say? About the only reason to read it anymore, in my opinion. If a young person told me he/she is an aspiring journalist/writer, I would recommend reading The New Yorker as the best example of careful editing for non-fiction grammar and style. And in referring to The New Yorker, I use the term "non-fiction" rather loosely.
I guess everyone has their pet annoyance when it comes to the mass media's savaging of the English language. For some reason, known only to God and my 3rd grade English teacher, the misuse on TV and radio of the word less or its derivatives drives me bonkers. Few and fewer seem to have disappeared almost entirely from the lexicon. For example, "last year we had less snow storms." Arrgh!
oh. This one drives me insane, as well. The misuse of 'fewer' and 'less' makes me cringe. Good description.
Yall'd've been just as correct to title this thread 'AVI saved me the trouble with who', too.
English is an arbitrary language made up of arbitrary rules, subject to change on societal whim. The rules of yesterday have morphed into the rules of today to be changed yet again tomorrow, and you expect me to be able to make sense of it?
I think I fell off the log at "an historic" when I was brought up with "a historic". But Barbara Walters says that's the way it should be so now it is (in certain circles).
So now, to whom shall I complain? For who will listen? Boo hoo.
Seems to me that if you're in the UK where they pronounce "historic" like "istoric", then "an historic" would be correct. Here in the land 'o the free, well...we be different. Baba Wawas has no grounds for telling people how to tawlk. And it's always "an hour"...it's burdensome to try to pronounce "a hour", hence the invention of the word "an".
Seriously, though, what disturbs me is not so the who/whom/whocares issues, or even poor but decipherable spelling. My language peev is the misuse of to/too/two, their/they're/there, and your/you're. These grammar/spelling mistakes drive me nuts when trying to decipher what people are trying to communicate. The sad thing is that with having read such po' ritin' fo' so long in emails and blogs, I've been shocked to find myself making these same mistakes that I never made 20 years ago. Reminds me of an old panda joke...but I digress.
IMO, the hyper-sensitivity to minor grammatical errors turns people off to paying attention to the sort of grammatical errors like those I describe above that potentially cause real communication problems. The point of language is to communicate, not to show one's social superiority. Unless of course your perception of your social superiority is all you have going for you.
Damn... the to/too/two, but really the to/too has driven me nuts for years. I'm horrible at it. The others you mention I semi have the hang of. But this line is what I was feebly attempting to say earlier.
"The point of language is to communicate, not to show one's social superiority. Unless of course your perception of your social superiority is all you have going for you."
I work with someone who knew hardly a word of English when he came to this country. But, all things considered, he is an American success story. Well, other than I suspect he voted for the big 'O'. :)
And so... I should mock or think him less because he doesn't know where to dot the 'I's' and cross the 'T's'.
It is not the simple argument as presented here. Not anymore.
Luther. Not the same. English is his second language, and KRW is correct - it is the hardest language to learn. Some say German is the hardest, but I don't know. Either way, people tend to judge the intelligence of another by the way they speak and how they write. I don't care how one argues that that's not fair, it is exactly how we react to people. Go take a job interview class and the first thing you'll learn is that you have or don't have the job in the first 30 seconds of walking into the interview. Let me add to that, that the interviewer has already read your application, resume, so he knows how you write and communicate with the language. If you miss the basics such as KRW pointed out above, you're history. That is fourth-grade stuff that teachers find themselves still teaching in the twelfth grade.
A parallel to those who would say it's ridiculous to care - Would you say that about how one performs his job? Half-way or almost-right? No. So, why accept someone not caring about our language? There is an irony that's interesting: We can accept misspelling far easier than simple 'there, their, and they're' mistakes. Spelling is not an indicator of intelligence, but those 'grammar/spelling' words are.
One more addition: Its/it's. Big mistake seen daily all over the Net. That one stands alone as it is usually a thought error, not one of incompetence.
Their cow walked to their yard and stood there and they're mad, and the cow is, too.