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”?