Mind­ing I’s, me’s on Gram­mar Day

WATCH YOUR LAN­GUAGE!

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - BER­NADETTE KINLAW

Don’t for­get to cel­e­brate Na­tional Gram­mar Day on Satur­day.

This revered hol­i­day has been around since 2008, but many of us like to cel­e­brate it much more of­ten than once a year. I feel ex­actly the same way about Na­tional Choco­late Eclair Day (June 22) and Na­tional Cook a Sweet Po­tato Day (Feb. 22).

LET’S MOVE THIS ALONG

A long, long time ago, when peo­ple reg­u­larly lis­tened to things called al­bums on de­vices called turnta­bles, they would hear a few sec­onds of only the scratch of the nee­dle on the vinyl, which meant one song had ended and the next one was be­gin­ning.

English speak­ers, in­stead, use tran­si­tional words and phrases as they move from one thought to the next. These words and phrases help the lis­tener or reader un­der­stand how the points are con­nected.

Tran­si­tions can sig­nal dif­fer­ent things. And many, many choices are avail­able to us.

■ Tran­si­tions can add to the same thought: also, again, like­wise, more­over.

■ They can con­nect cause and ef­fect: so, thus, there­fore, con­se­quently.

■ They can com­pare two thoughts: but, still, sim­i­larly, rather.

■ They can em­pha­size a de­tail: above all, pri­mar­ily.

■ They can il­lus­trate a point: specif­i­cally, namely, for ex­am­ple.

Where would we be with­out tran­si­tions?

At times, peo­ple use ex­tra long tran­si­tions. Per­haps they are cre­at­ing a dra­matic de­lay for their lis­ten­ers. But many of these long phrases can be trimmed to a word or two:

That be­ing said (still)

Be that as it may (but) With this in mind (so, there­fore)

At any rate (still)

While it may be true (though)

On the other hand (still, but) For the time be­ing (for now)

THE MIS­UN­DER­STOOD ‘MY­SELF’

I have writ­ten be­fore about the mis­use of “I” when “me” should be used.

Wrong: Just be­tween you and I, An­gel­ica had a nose job.

Right: Just be­tween you and me, An­gel­ica had a nose job.

Peo­ple sim­i­larly mis­use “my­self.” This word is not a fancy re­place­ment for “me,” but peo­ple seem to think it is.

Wrong: If you have ques­tions about the dress pol­icy, con­tact Calvin, Eileen or my­self.

Right: If you have ques­tions about the dress pol­icy, con­tact Calvin, Eileen or me.

Use “my­self” when you have done some­thing to your­self.

Some­times when I bake all day long, I man­age to burn my­self.

“My­self” can also be used to em­pha­size the “I” or “me” in the sen­tence. I’m not con­vinced that it’s needed all the time, but it does add just a shade of dif­fer­ence.

I my­self be­lieve the al­ibi. Sher­lock does not.

I made the tomato sauce my­self. I didn’t use some­thing from a jar.

But “my­self” is not to be used as a sub­sti­tute for “me.”

Sources: Study Guides and Strate­gies, Ox­ford Dic­tionar­ies

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/NIKKI DAWES

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