Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That Insidious Grammar Disease

"For he and I."


Pardon me while I rant. I first ran a post like this one three years ago, and the situation has only grown more dire since then. This subject-turned-direct-object thing is really getting old. A good 90% of the population now spouts such nonsense.

I have no idea who started this idiocy, but I do have distinct memories of beginning to hear it. Somehow it caught on more and more until today people do things for subjects regardless of their level of education or socio-economic status. People with college degrees, masters and even doctorates have fallen prey to the For Subject Syndrome. Professionals as well as blue collar workers have been hit. The For Subject Syndrome has so permeated our society that even writers, professional speakers, and preachers are among the victims. I tell you, I'm reading nonfiction books these days with this kind of mistake in it. Which means the authors are writing it, the macro editors are missing it, the line editors are missing it, the copyeditors are missing it, and the proofreaders are missing it. Why? Because they've heard it so much, they now think it's right.

You tell a teenager, “No, say ‘it’s for him and me’”—and the kid will look at you like you’re crazy. That’s because this highly contagious Syndrome has been around since these kids started talking. They don’t know life without its affliction.

The funny thing is, the For Subject Syndrome is selective. You don’t hear people say, “That one’s for I.” As long as the direct object is single, you’ll hear the proper “me” or “her,” etc. But when the direct object doubles, watch out. The Syndrome kicks in.

How can we stop the madness? Is there no inoculation for this insidious disease?

I hereby proclaim a new national organization to fight this monstrous plague—KUDOS. Keep Using Direct Objects Society. Members have but one decree—to wipe the For Subject Syndrome off the planet. Every time you spot an FSS in writing—point it out, and earn KUDOS. Every time you hear an FSS spoken—shake your finger at the speaker and earn KUDOS.

Who will join me in this worthy organization? KUDOS members, unite!

State your intent to join, then document a recent occurrence of FSS—and start earning your KUDOS today. Together we can restore our world!


AnitaS is the winner from Photo Friday, with this caption:

Can you hear me now? Does your child exhibit selective hearing when it's time to leave the park? Then try the Attention Grabber! This little tool will suck your child's ear right up to it so there's no way he can ignore the sound of your voice telling him it's time to go. Stay tuned for the portable conveyor belt making it easier to then drag your kicking & screaming child from the park!

Anita, please email me with your choice of one of my novels and include your address. Send to: brandilyn (at) brandilyncollins (dot) com.


Sally Bradley said...

Brandilyn, I'm with you. I've got a degree in English, and I hate it when I hear that.

That being said, for some reason I struggle with it myself. I don't think I ever actually say for him and I, but when I'm going to use that phrasing, I have to stop and think, "Would I say for I or for me?" And then I'm good.

Hm. What about the movie The King and I? I wonder if phrasing like that has confused people? Who knows.

Timothy Fish said...

What gets me is when people say it correctly then correct themselves and say it wrong.

Richard Mabry said...

Then again, you could just say, "Do it for me. Do it for her. Do it for both of us."
Seriously, I'll be glad to join your army on this one.

Vonnie said...

I teach English grammar, and I agree with you. When youngsters hear it incorrectly constantly, the correct way sounds wrong to them. (also forms of "lie" and "lay"...but that's a different subject)

I'm also hearing something that bothers me, but I'm not sure about it. The verb "grow" is being used as a transitive verb. (to grow your platform) It is being used more and more. Is it correct?

Yvonne Blake

Domino said...

Yay! I am not alone!

While we're listening to the radio, my kids hear me correct people who use incorrect grammar over the airwaves. I'm not stopping it at the source, but hopefully, I'm teaching my kids to say it correctly.

I think I'd wear a shirt to promote good grammar. Words on the front might be, "Good grammar works for my friends and ME, not for my friends and I."

But then you'll have people asking about my Grandma working for me.

Heather said...

I've been trained into disliking improper grammar because it's my mom's biggest pet peeve. She'd love this post, Brandilyn! :0)
And on the subject of grammar t-shirts, my favorite is the on my fiance and I got my mom for Christmas last year-"Mentally correcting your grammar."

AnitaS said...

Me love this post very much, and not just because me won the photo caption contest, but because me am very much a stickler for good grammar. It annoys I very much to hear the English language butchered so badly, including the switching of subject/object pronouns. There are many other grammar topics that bother I immensely, but me guess "their" for another time/place as this message could get far "to" lengthly. ;-) (WHEW...that was HARD!)

For the record, though, my 9 year old has a better grasp on English grammar than a lot of adults (sadly).

Jenn M said...

I don't know why people think that using "I" sounds smarter. I too use the rule of thumb in which you leave off the third-person pronoun to see if "I" or "me" is appropriate. I also get frustrated with the "your/you're" and "too/to" mix-ups. I'm beginning to become annoyed with ending sentences with prepositions, but I may have to give up because to speak properly sounds too stilted.

Mocha with Linda said...

YES! This drives me nuts. It's the swing of the pendulum from when people used to say "me" when they should have said "I". (Saying "It's me" instead of the correct "It's I".)

That and apostrophes for plurals make me cringe.

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Vonnie, if you can grow vegetables, I suppose you can grow a platform. Metaphorically speaking, anyway. I think "grow" is fine as a transitive verb.

Peg said...

I'm in. Yes, that's one of my big grammar pet peeves. As are some of the others mentioned here.

Anita, LOVED your comment!

Hannah said...

Yes! *pumps fist in the air* I'm tired of pronouns being abused. (My poor family will testify -- my younger brother gets the incredulous eyebrow and sarcastic, "by him and I"?) Let's bring back proper grammar!

LOL. We all sound like the Scottish in Braveheart.

Vonnie said...

Thanks (about the word "grow") but personally, I think I will find a synonym...It just doesn't sound right to me. I just won't correct others anymore when they use it that way. *smile*

Jenny said...

I'm with you, Brandilyn. Just one favor. Once we've conquered the For Subject Syndrome, may we please beat the voiced /t/ out of often? Please! We don't pronounce the /t/ in listen or whistle--why are we all of a sudden voicing it in often? I've heard it from the pulpit, on the news from the commentators and (I hate to add) from teachers. This madness must stop!
So please let's make this our second wave in the war on poor grammar.
Abundant blessings,

Jenna said...

You should start a Facebook group for this. I'm posting a link to this blog on my status right now. :-) As a high schooler who appreciates proper grammar, I thank you!!

Candy said...

I join you. Drives me nutz!