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January 8, 2010

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“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • February 15, 2011, 9:37pm

Well, it's nominative, since it's a predicate nominative following a linking verb, renaming or explaining the subject which, in "This is she," is "This." If you read the postings from January 2010, all of that was gone into exhaustively with polite and understated ire aplenty. It all boils down to "correct by what standard?" Formal English? Colloquial English? For formal/standard English, Elle, you're absolutely correct: it must be "she." What Melissa says above is true. The more properly one speaks, the more likely one is to be branded as a snob. Odd, since I'd never correct or speak down to someone who made an error in the course of conversation, but I've been told I was incorrect when the opposite was true and accused of snobbery when I simply and politely defended what I originally said.

Dang! The name of home before dark disappeared out of my posting, to wit: ". . . waving to home before dark in Lawrence, Kansas . . ."

But in so doing, you don't inform the caller of your identity. "Yes" merely means that the caller may, indeed, speak to the asked for person. Of course, one can choose to melodically intone, "Yes. This is Cruella, Cruella Deville," or whatever, making one's self known by name. However, if a pronoun is used, "she/he," the nominative case pronoun, is correct.

The militant grammarian is waving to in Lawrence, Kansas, a picture perfect small town I love and know well. When passing through, I eat at Tellers, since they tarted up the charming old Free State Hotel, which has been called the Eldridge in recent years. Academician? I'm in the greater St. Louis area.

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • January 20, 2010, 12:23am

Probably some usage writers feel that "ain't" isn't worth bothering about, and they may, indeed, be right. I guess I'm back to the old "isn't the discussion of such what the site is about anyway?" And not ALL of any group agrees about anything, at least not usually. Total consensus? Maybe when we've gone to sing with the choir invisible. However, on this point, most usage writers agree, including Strunk and White, to list only one. The bottom line is that if using certain forms of speech, and here I'm not discussing any particular example, can cause one a problem professionally or personally, it's best to avoid it at least in formal situations and stick to what's generally accepted as standard, whatever that is. It's a question of covering one's metaphorical ass, or "feet" for that matter.

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • January 19, 2010, 10:10pm

Douglas said,

"Really Marilyn? That old canard? I'm loath to cock a snook at even so learned a maven as you, but "lay versus lie" is not so much a grammatical issue as a social one."

Well, Douglas, as I understand it, it's not a grammatical issue, but one of diction, the wrong word being used. "Grammar cops with a social agenda?" If that were entirely true, then this website would seem of no point whatsoever, though I suppose there is a social agenda. I am only a second generation American. All four of my grandparents, two maids, a slightly alcoholic mason, and a baker, were immigrants who spoke accented English with greater or lesser facility in grammar to the ends of their days. All four came from peasant families, and I'm proud of that and them. My father, who spoke very good but not perfect English, a very rare thing in my experience, told me that his teachers insisted that all the children speak grammatically, no matter what they heard at home. The parents, a the mixed bag of Germans, Italians, Poles, and so forth, all insisted on the same point. It was seen, and still is, one form of social betterment. Eliza Doolittle knew that she needed to speak more correctly to be a lady in a flower shop. My father, by the way, had one semester of college when his father died. He then quit and got a job to support his mother and a sister still at home, and later, another widowed sister and her five children. I was the first college graduate in my family on either side. My background is not privileged.

As I said before, in some contexts, formal English is the coin of the realm. We don't often hear our physicians say to their nurses, "I ain't got no pencil." Egregious errors are a signal of various things that are usually a stumbling block to a successful life, not that lay vs lie is egregious. An example in point is that once I was on the phone calling a company with a complaint and asked to speak to the manager. In such situations, anyone below that level can't make decisions. One is being vetted, and one's time is wasted explaining the same thing multiple times. The woman to whom I was speaking claimed that she was the manager. I knew she wasn't simply by the way she spoke and again insisted on speaking to the manager. She wasn't pleased, but in the end, I got the manager, who spoke far better than the original woman. I'd been correct. For better or worse, this is what happens.

And as for its being an "old canard," that duck is not really enchained and still flies in testing instruments, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, and certainly until death, in the probably not foreseeable future, us do part. "The simple rule is generally this: "lie" is for people, "lay" is for things. (Easy to remember: many people lie.)" Not entirely, since you can "lay the baby in the bed" or "lay your body down": "Now I lay me down to sleep." For that matter, once you have "laid" your books on the table, they are "lying" there. Porsche is correct in this matter. Lay [lay, laid, have laid, laying] means to put or place. Lie [lie, lay, have lain, lying] means to recline/rest horizontally. The problem lies [thing, not person, but it "lies"] with "lay" and "lain" as the past and past participle of "lie." They go virtually unused, except by the few. And the reason I put "educated" in quotation marks? The vast majority of the educated misuse these verbs, according to standards of strictly formal English as well, just like everyone else. And yes, I do know that forms of "lay" have been used for forms of "lie" for half of forever. But this is a forum on correct grammar and usage as dictated by the rules, such as they are, and for strictly formal English, it isn't correct. "The conflict between oral use and school instruction has resulted in the distinction becoming a social shibboleth – a marker of class and education." Did you or do you, in the raising of your children, insist that they speak correctly? Why? Do they say, "Dad, I ain't got no pencil"? Had they ever said precisely that, how would you have replied? The "lay" vs "lie" difference is one of degree rather than kind in the discussion of "ain't." Same church different pew. Danged picky pew, but even so, Douglas, even so.

"I know what you're thinking: educated people talk good." Not all of 'em, sweetie. Not nearly all of 'em, and for reasons I won't broach here. And for that matter, some self-educated folks speak beautifully. "Ergo people lie and things lay." Once again, not in all cases. Nope. Not nearly all. "No, language is created, nurtured and cultivated by poor slobs who wouldn't know an intransitive verb if it gave them a bus transfer, bless 'em." With that, I can only agree. "And yes, I know exactly how snobbish that sounds." Not "hobknobbish"? Oh! And cocked snooks are all the rage in some places. Cock away. I quite enjoy snooks, cocked or otherwise. In fact, they often make my day. "Lay [not lie] on, Macduff!" On that note, have a pleasant evening or morning, or whatever it is there. I'm in the Midwest, in a blob of humanity in the great fly-over zone.

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • January 18, 2010, 10:15pm

Anyone interested in taking on forms of the verbs "lay" and "lie," two of the most frequently misused verbs by the "educated"?

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • January 18, 2010, 9:13am

Your point is well made, and I quite agree. To me, it is sad that those meanings are lost. I gave only one example. I fully realize that semantic change happens, and we can use the words we choose as we choose. However, for the common man, when words are used in a sense no longer in the common parlance, understanding fails. For me, the language is the poorer for the loss. As I mentioned previously, probably a surfeit of very old literature on my part, but I like those words, and it's harder and harder for me to use them and be understood. Lackaday, I most thole it. O.K. I'm not quite THAT archaic. I enjoy writing to you John. U er definitely dite, and it appears that we have entertainment value.

Talking through your hat

  • January 17, 2010, 2:45pm

First of all, Fawn Brodie's book is fascinating and insightful. That aside, I had thought the phrase was "talking 'through' one's hat, meaning concerning things about which the speaker is not truly knowledgeable.

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • January 15, 2010, 11:14am

Come to think of it, what goes on here is "hobknobbery" [sic] of a sort, though I'm fairly certain that wasn't the original intent of the remark.

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • January 15, 2010, 9:00am

Oooooooo, Douglas, love your use of the word "mad"! It seems that John and I have become the pedantic website version of reality TV. And the original question -- something about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, wasn't it? No? Broca's area? Binomial nomenclature? Suggestions for dealing with Eeyore's depressive personality? Damned if I know. Reading back over all of that, I realize that I am only one of the grammar, vocabulary, and literature obsessed out there. It's been the continuing daytime drama of John and Marilyn. I'm charmed we proved to have some entertainment value. As to where we go from here, who knows? Possibly nowhere, and that's dandy too. But you know, had I been one of those seraphs, I'd have used two of my wings to cover my . . . ahhh, . . . "feet" too. But then again, John Kenneth Galbraith said, "Modesty is a vastly over-rated virtue." Hmmmmmm? Clearly not with seraphs. "Civility?" Yes. "Erudite?" Maybe u er dite, but I ain't. "And the beat goes on." Oh, and I'm still trying to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" "hobknobbery."
stark, raving, and clearly mad, though not angry