Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What happened to English grammar?

I mean seriously – did people forget what they learned in school? Or are they not teaching it anymore?

I’m specifically referring to the use of I and me. I read it in books, see it on television, face book and hear it constantly.

Do people really not know the proper use of pairing the two words with an and between them. Joe and I – Joe and me. 
I seldom hear me anymore. It’s always and I. 
I was taught if you weren't sure which to use, I or me, to simply leave off the first part – Joe and.
Pretty simple really. Joe and I went to the store – Leave off Joe and – I went to the store. Correct. 
Come to the store with Joe and I – leave off Joe and – Come to the store with I??? Seriously, would anyone speak that way?  Of course not, you’d say Come to the store with me. So obviously me is correct. 
But that’s not what people are saying, or writing.
I watched a program the other night on the Hallmark Channel. They consistently used and I. Didn't matter that it was incorrect.
Is this what’s being taught in our schools today? 
Is this the new language? 
I know many publishers are doing away with commas. In fact, The Chicago Manual of Style has changed using a comma after and in a series. I’ll have bacon, eggs, and toast. Why?  Apparently The Chicago Manual of Style has replaced The Elements of Style (Strunk and White) and that's what publishers use today.
 I know sometimes commas are overused, especially in run on sentences. But there is a need for them. Commas indicate pause. I've read sentences  more than once so they’d make sense, because of a lack of commas.
 What is this world coming to?
Are people too lazy to speak  and write properly? Aren't there enough editors knowledgeable about grammar to correct these errors?
Or do people think it sounds better to use and I?


Jim Hartley said...

Good take on the "I or me" problem. Anyone who makes that mistake deserves two hoots and a kick in the butt. But we must be aware that the English language is evolving. Most grammar books and online grammar sites are still echoing what was written in 1913 (or maybe 1813), and don't conform to 2013 speech patterns.

And don't get me started on the Chicago Mangle of Style. Since your blog doesn't have an adult content warning, I can't say what I think of them.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Glad to see someone agrees with me. Thanks for your comment, Jim. I'd love to know what you think of The Chicago Mangle of Style (that was a pretty good clue, wasn't it?)

Susan Royal said...

It appalls me, especially when I see it in print somewhere I know it had to have been edited at least once. People don't take pains with their grammar any more. Now, I'm not saying I don't make mistakes, but I do make an effort to learn from them. (My kids heard this rant on a regular basis.)

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Even worse is the use of "myself" instead of I or me. "Come to the store with Joe and myself." Huh?

It is said that language is a fluid thing, constantly growing and changing. Sometimes change is good. In this instance I'll stick with the old ways.

Thanks for sharing!

Marsha said...

Roseanne, I think people misuse intentionally. They think using "I" makes them sound more intellectual. I'm amazed a the educated people who make this mistake. Your examples were clear and simple. Nice job. You didn't even touch on the objective or nominative case which might've confused folks but is the way I learned to tell the difference. Schools are teaching this correctly, at least as of 6 years ago. And I still use the Oxford comma (lawyers do, too. My husband sent me an article about the reasons for that.) If my editor wants me to leave it off, I can go through and do a search, but I write with it. Good post, Roseanne.

John Rosenman said...

I'm a retired English professor, so this cuts close to the bone. My wife and I watch "The Young and the Breastless," and I hear something like this fairly often: "He gave it to him and I." The writers write that, and it gets past the proofreaders. As to what they teach in schools, I used to say to students, "What is wrong with this: 'Me is very happy!'?" They would answer, "It don't sound right." No one taught them about the objective or nominative case. Either that, or they didn't listen. Well, that's enough. Language and grammar evolve, but they also deteriorate if society loses respect for them.

Roseanne Dowell said...

I know what you mean, Susan. I yell at the TV when I hear it. My husband laughs at me, but it drives me up a wall. I agree, Kathy. If they'd just stop and think. Thank you, Marsha, that's how we were taught to tell the difference. Made it so easy. John, I'm afraid it's going to deteriorate because it's being used more and more every day. Guess I'll just have to grin and bear it. Not easy for me. LOL

John Rosenman said...


J Q Rose said...

Kudos to you for this post. Your method of dropping the Jim and easily explains it to kids or adults who have forgotten the proper way. I'm afraid with our grandkids we are just trying to get them to say He and I instead of me and him!! or to remember to put themselves last..my brother and I not me and my brother!

Randall Lang said...

Hi Roseanne,

I fear that we are losing the language as it degenerates into a form of non-capitalized, non-punctuated, and phonetically spelled gibberish. The English teachers that I had in school would be apoplectic at the way the language is used today. Among my personal peeves is the backwards us of the 'you and me' phrase. The 'I or me' is supposed to come last yet it has become common usage to say, "Me and Jim went to the store". It is like fingernails on a blackboard each time I hear that, and my distain for the speaker and whatever school district they attended is boundless.

Roseanne Dowell said...

I agree, Randall. Unfortunately, I have to admit to being guilty of saying me and Jim also, as in Carol went the store with me and Jim. Not correct, I know, but I'd even take that if it helped people distinguish between me and I. Because it shows so easily that you can leave off the and Jim.

JL Walters said...

Roseanne, I think each of those when I'm writing them and I have had editors change the right way to the wrong way. I usually change them back. Sometimes it's the stupid grammar thing on the spell check that wants to make the change. Then I really have to check what I want to put. Most often the grammar check is wrong. About commas, I use them sparingly and put them in when I have to take a breath. I've had editors take out all commas. Another thing that bugs me is using that in a sentence. Sometimes you need that to make the sentence clear or to make the prose sound right.

Margaret Fieland said...

Roseanne, this was one of my father's pet peeves, and I find the misuse of pronouns extremely annoying. I might not have remembered grammar rules from HS English, but Dad drummed them into me by relentlessly repeating the relevant rule every time we made a mistake.

Roseanne Dowell said...

JL, that's really sad that editors don't know the proper use of grammar, commas etc. I do a search for 'that' in every manuscript. Most of them can be deleted and I'm getting better about not using them to begin with. I think part of the problem is the way we speak today. Even I'm guilty of not using proper grammar when I speak. We've become lazy and tend to use too much slang. We pick up phrases like "I go" instead of 'I said'. I loved English in school. Loved diagramming sentences. Not saying I'm perfect, far from it. I'm sure I make other errors that drive people crazy. I know I tend to repeat words for one thing.

Roseanne Dowell said...

It's funny how we learn. As I said, I loved high school English, so many of the rules have stuck with me. Doesn't matter how we learn or who we learn from, just that we learn. It's not just young people who misuse the words, I've heard it from many adults on different TV shows. I guess I'll just have to keep screaming at the TV or learn to live with it, and I seriously doubt I'll ever accept it.

Pamela Kelt said...

In the UK, the extra comma is not used. It's just horrible! Bacon, eggs and toast. This is what I was taught. The extra comma seems so wrong it's almost indigestible. However, never mind that. It's all about different styles of English. I've had to learn to accept a more global style of grammar.

However, the I and me is simply grammatical. It's all to do with nouns. Seven years of Latin would sort it out.