Thursday, February 12, 2009

A plea to teachers

We need to bring grammar back into American schools.

Today I was writing a note and began to write "Yours and _____'s health." Then I switched it to "Your and ______'s," which seemed correct, but sounded awkward.

And what if you were including yourself in the phrase? "His and my car." Obviously "our" sounds better, but how do you get more specific and still sound correct?

The strangest mutations probably stem from the lack of a distinct "you plural" form in modern English.

Let's try a little noun declension.

1) Nominative/Subject: How do you communicate that you mean you plural and not singular? I refuse to say "y'all," but I accept "you all." I also think that "you guys/ladies/women/men/etc." all sound okay, when used in the appropriate context (our pastor recently clarified that when he says "You guys," he means all of us.)

2) Dative/Indirect object also works out okay with above forms (I want to give you all a gift. I will talk to you ladies tomorrow).

3) Genitive/Possessive...Problematic! The proper form is "your." Take out your pencils and begin. Here the plural of the object helps us understand that the owner is plural.

BUT what if the noun cannot be pluralized? House, car, etc. There's only one object or a collective object but it is possessed by multiple persons (people?). Your house. Okay, but whose? Yours and his? Your and his? You and his? You and your brother's? Yours and your brother's?

Unfortunately, I don't think that the phrases used in points 1 and 2 will suffice.

You all's, you guys's, you women's. Nope, won't work here. It's a dilemma.

Teachers, we need to be taught this in school!

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