I'm obsessed with the World Cup. Are you? I love it! I also love the Olympics, and I spent a good chunk of February sitting on my couch watching the games - so fun! I love cheering on the athletes, no matter what their nationality, and it's entertaining to hear the informed commentary that accompanies the competition.


Pronouns can be tricky!

This Olympics, however, the grammar that accompanied the commentary wasn't as stellar as the athletic feats being described. The most common infraction I heard from Sochi was the misuse of pronouns. The following are two examples that were so outrageous I actually paused the TV, rewound to listen again, then recorded them with my phone:


Example One:


What was said: "It has all gone away for John Daly. Heartbreaking for HE and his family and friends."


What should have been said: "It has all gone away for John Daly. Heartbreaking for HIM and his family and friends."


Explanation: Object pronouns (him) follow prepositions (for). I doubt the commentator would have said "heartbreaking for he" if that had been the end of the sentence.


Example Two:


What was said: "So he's a really really great guy, and it was so fun to be with him. I saw HE and his wife here earlier, and they just were in tears over how excited they were."


What should have been said: "So he's a really really great guy, and it was so fun to be with him. I saw HIM and his wife here earlier, and they just were in tears over how excited they were."


Explanation: This case requires a direct object pronoun, which is "him." I doubt the commentator would have said "I saw he" if that were the end of the sentence.


The commentators seem to be under the impression that "he" is correct at all times. "He" is the appropriate pronoun if it's referring to the SUBJECT, but when it's referring to the OBJECT, "him" is the correct choice.


He sees me, and I see him.





Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2014 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Comment by Vivienne Diane Neal on June 27, 2014 at 7:27am

Maria, what a great article. I am not into sports so I rarely listen to commentators. But you bring up a very good point about grammar. I wonder how many viewers write to the stations pointing this out. When I listen to the news, I will pay more attention to how reporters use pronouns. :)

Comment by Mardith Louisell on June 26, 2014 at 6:05pm

Yup, have been driven crazy. Now I try to accept this in the spoken word. In the written, word, I can't! But it is taking over, especially "It was great for he and me" and "Me and my sisters loved this." I  cringe  to admit I have said the latter and been cited by a good friend, e.g., the language police adn have done my share of citing, although I now confine myself to my partner.  I have even restrained myself from citing family members - family members who used to use the proper pronoun. I had to read a history of language usage to accept that language chances, even grammar but it's hard.

Comment by Laura Janis Thompson on June 26, 2014 at 3:40pm

Hi Maria!

Don’t focus on this too closely. You will drive yourself crazy! :) My boss said the funniest thing the other day to someone who tossed off the random accusation, “They made me do it.” She responded with, “There is no antecedent to your pronoun.” I nearly died laughing. I am sure the accuser had no idea what she was talking about!

Comment by Pamela Fender on June 26, 2014 at 1:47pm

Great blog, by the way, Maria.

Comment by Pamela Fender on June 26, 2014 at 1:45pm

I concur! It drives me absolutely crazy, too!
I was an English major in college, so when I hear inappropriate use of our language (or read it), it's like a neon sign upon my eyes.
I'm a substitute teacher, so I have the opportunity to see all kinds of students in all different classes.

The most recent experience I encountered was taking over the job as librarian for a local elementary school. The "teacher," (who supposedly came from Miami as a kindergartner teacher and I put that in quotes and you'll see why) I took over for had an atrocious use of our language.

Examples: (To the students): "You all brung your books today?" Eek.

"I don't follow bakesball." 

"I don't know nothing about that subject." 

Double negatives? Is that ever hard to hear? You better believe it.
Should I have corrected her? I didn't because I didn't want to embarrass her, but would repeat her statements the CORRECT way. She probably didn't learn from my corrections. What puzzles me is that she is teaching young ones the incorrect use of our language and we wonder why our youth speak and write so poorly. It's really no wonder when we have individuals supposedly (not "supposevly") teaching these young minds. Sad, really.

Comment by Juliana Lightle on June 24, 2014 at 7:59pm

Tell me about it!!!!  It drives me crazy, especially at work.  I teach high school, both math and English, and many of the teachers have dreadful grammar.  They think it does not matter.  Wrong!!  I worked in corporate America for many years before teaching.  Want to advance--grammar matters.

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