My grammar soapbox

For those of you who didn’t love diagramming sentences in high school English, now is the time to stop reading. I’ve always enjoyed grammar, especially learning it in different languages, as it helps me understand English better. Understanding grammar, in my opinion, leads to more clarity in communication.

I had the idea for this post when I heard this phrase in a presentation today, “This is a stigmata which indicates poor prognosis.” It seemed ironic that the speaker would choose a relatively obscure and erudite plural form (stigmata, similiar to how data is the plural of datum), but then proceed to egregiously mismatch the singular indefinite article, a.

Did I call him down in the middle of the presentation? No, though such an action may be justified given the blatant offense. One error which I have, of late, begun to gently correct is the pronunciation of height with a “th” at the end. “Width” and “breadth,” but “height.”

And for the richness of colloquial diction, I fully support the term, “the sugar diabetes,” especially when the word diabetes ends with a short i vowel sound rather than a long e.

For the one reader who has continued this far, I have a question. When there are two people who possess one thing, how is this correctly indicated? Is it “Dick and Jane’s dog,” or “Dick’s and Jane’s dog”?


Filed under Grammar & language

4 responses to “My grammar soapbox

  1. Herman's Bro.

    What if two vowels go jogging instead of walking?
    THEN who does the talking?

  2. Anonymous

    What about the phrase, “You can read more thoughts on my friend, Dr. J’s, blog”?

  3. Doctor J

    Anonymous brings up a very good point, Jonathan…It seems you have another sentence to diagram!

    I was always told that two people who have joint ownership of a single item are correctly identified by each having the proper possessive apostrophe. Thus, it is Dick’s and Jane’s dog.

    Interestingly, the local restaurant “Nick and Sam’s” seems to have ignored this rule, unless it is Sam’s restaurant and Nick is always hanging around in the shadows and Sam wanted to warn everyone before they came into his restaurant.

  4. Anonymous

    When two people possess one thing, it is indicated by the second person reflecting the possession. Dick and Jane’s dog.


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