Archive for the ‘Pronoun case’ Category

The classic owl joke

March 4, 2014

From several sources, this Sandra Boynton cartoon on whom:

An old joke, offered by people for National Grammar Day, which is today.

Today is also Opal Armstrong Zwicky’s birthday (her tenth, moving her into the edge of tweendom) and, this year, Mardi Gras.

[Note on St. Pancake's Day, from 2012, here.]

More Recency Illusion

February 24, 2014

From Tom Grano, a CBS News report from yesterday, from Bill Flanagan, representing the “grammar police”:

Time now for a public service announcement from our contributor and first-person-singular-pronoun policeman Bill Flanagan of VH1:

I know it sounds snobby to point this out, but in the last 10 or 15 years, millions of intelligent English-speaking people have become flummoxed by when to use “I,” and when to use “me.” You hear it all the time:

Are you coming to the movie with Madonna and I?
Won’t you join Oprah and I for dinner?
The Trumps are throwing a party for Barack and I.

It’s embarrassing!

At least people who mess up the other way — “Goober and me are going to town” — sound folksy, colloquial, down-to-Earth. But people who say “I” when they should say “me” sound like they are trying to be sophisticated and they’re getting it wrong.

There’s a lot to criticize here. But I’ll start with the phenomenon, known in the syntax business as the Nominative Conjoined Object (NomConjObj for short) and the claim that it’s arisen only recently.


Knock knock

January 14, 2014

Passed on by Facebook friends, a 2007 Dork Tower cartoon:


How ’bout them Cubbies?

May 12, 2013

Today’s Zippy:

So the strip is “about” hair(s), but it’s also “about” How ’bout them Cubbies?

(On a personal hair and holiday note: I’m watching Hairspray for Mothers Day.)



February 20, 2013

A fresh example of a nominative object of a preposition, noticed by Wilson Gray in the NYT opinion blogs (“The Two Julias” by Candice Shy Hooper on the 14th):

Jule must have wondered at a world in which any other slave in the South but she could find freedom in General Grant’s camp.

Wilson tried to attribute this error to a computer glitch, finding it hard to credit in otherwise literate prose. But of course it’s an error of nervous cluelessness (as Mark Liberman and Geoff Pullum have labeled it on Language Log), a type of hypercorrection that depends on a confusion between grammatical categories — in this case, preposition but (which takes an accusative object) and conjunction but (which combines with a clause, with nominative subject).


Brief mention: equal time for NomConjObjs

October 13, 2012

Joe Biden on the campaign trail in Wisconsin yesterday:

It was made very clear that they [Romney and Ryan] do not believe a woman has a right to control her own body. That’s between she and her doctor. [elsewhere transcribed as: ... own body – that’s between ...]

A NomConjObj (nominative conjoined object), with a 3sg pronoun as the first conjunct. This is a Democratic match to Republican Mitt Romney’s

I like he and Callista. (about Newt Gingrich)

reported on here, along with an instance from Romney of the more frequent 1sg as second conjunct.

More perils of advice

September 7, 2012

From the Daily News (of the central San Francisco peninsula) yesterday, in “Man faces federal drug distribution charges: Perry Mosdromos, 46, allegedly sold medications to pay mother’s medical bills” by Jason Green:

Mosdromos, who remains in custody, hinted that the enterprise involves more than one person, according to the affidavit.

“Mosdromos stated the operation is much bigger than he,” [FBI Special Agent Matthew] Beaupain wrote, “however, Mosdromos did not disclose any co-conspirators or elaborate as to how the operation works.” (p. A4)

I’ve boldfaced the relevant clause, which has a nominative pronoun, he, in construction with than — in a context where the nominative strikes me as simply unacceptable; the operation is much bigger than him would have been the way to go.


NomConjObj on the campaign trail

August 30, 2012

Ben Zimmer points me to this passage in Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech tonight:

Those weren’t the easiest of days – too many long hours and weekends working, five young sons who seemed to have this need to re-enact a different world war every night. But if you ask Ann and I what we’d give, to break up just one more fight between the boys, or wake up in the morning and discover a pile of kids asleep in our room. Well, every mom and dad knows the answer to that. (from the transcript)

In the bold-faced piece, a NomConjObj (nominative conjoined object), on which there is now a huge literature (brief account here). The structure is now widespread (especially in speech, but not only there), including among educated speakers: I have quotes from Barbara Boxer, Sonia Sotomayor, Prince Andrew of Great Britain etc., Ellen DeGeneres, Geoff Nuttall of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and a huge number of linguists and other academics and professionals. In fact, some scholars of pronoun usage treat NomConjObjs as now the norm.

Still, many usageasters are appalled by them; see Bryan Garner‘s tweet about Romney’s usage above:

“if you asked Ann and I what we’d give….” this was a scripted speech!

Bad, bad, Mitt Romney! And this isn’t his first lapse; Mark Liberman reported here on Romney’s

I like he and Callista. (about Newt Gingrich)

I’d imagine that the structure is entirely natural for Romney (and for his speechwriters as well).


Grammar Dalek

August 11, 2012

From the webcomic HijiNKS Ensue by Joel Watson, an extraterrestrial opinion on who vs. whom:


On the NomConjObj watch

July 27, 2012

From Thomas Grano, my sometime companion in the world of nominative conjoined objects (NomConjObjs), this catch:

At the end of three weeks, I finally called the chair of the search committee and invited he and his wife to go out to dinner with us. [in "They're here!", 7/24/12 Chronicle of Higher Education blog post by Lesboprof, available here]

That’s a 3sg pronoun in the first conjunct, in a direct object that’s the notional subject of an infinitive — the first example with this combination of factors that I’ve seen.



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