Summer has proven to be a busy time for Grammar Guardians. Let’s start with questions from readers and then cover a few other grammatical issues.
I recently received an email from a reader who asked for the rule regarding “appreciate you sharing vs. appreciate your sharing.” I must admit I have to call on more experienced GGs for this one because I can only go by what I think sounds correct. I turned to Grammar Logs (http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/grammarlogs/grammarlogs64.htm) and found a similar question regarding using “I appreciate you taking the time” or “I appreciate your taking the time.” The response on the site read, “Sometimes this can be a hard choice. Ask yourself what you are appreciating: is it the person you appreciate in the midst of his doing something or is it the act of his taking the time to write. I think it’s the latter, so I would say ‘I appreciate your taking the time…’” Interesting. I prefer the former. I appreciate the person who is sharing, so I would say, “I appreciate you sharing.”
One of the Valley’s most meticulous Grammar Guardians pointed out something in my June column. I wrote that “blogging is different than texting,” and he said he was taught to avoid “different than” in favor of “different from.” As I’ve mentioned before, I continue to evolve as a Grammar Guardian. For this question, I turned to Academic Center Peer Writing Tutors at the University of Houston-Victoria. They write, “In the 18th century, different than began to be seen as unacceptable in certain situations. This view has survived for the most part. Many grammar books, such as Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, argue against using different than. Different from is preferred and considered correct, but different than is considered acceptable on some occasions.” To read more on the topic, go to http://www.uhv.edu/ac/newsletters/writing/grammartip2005.10.04.htm. I need to remember this one because I’m certain I almost always use “different than.”
We’ll have more readers’ ideas next month, but now let’s move on to grammatical errors I have recently heard:
• I hate when someone says a person “hanged” himself. I think it sounds awful. Queen Grammar Guardian at McAllen High School, Deborah Arney, insisted I learn the rule: Pictures are hung, people are hanged. Grammar Girl (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/hanged-versus-hung.aspx) did some research on the question of hung vs. hanged and agrees with Deborah but admits that “hung” is becoming more common (though still technically incorrect, I must add.)
• I can’t believe how often I hear local news anchors say and newspaper reporters write “arson fires.” Isn’t this like saying “hamburger meat”? Just as “hamburger,” by definition, means “ground meat,” “arson” refers to the act of maliciously or intentionally setting a fire; therefore, it is redundant to use “fire” after “arson.”
• I can’t count the number of times recently I’ve heard people say “pre-fer-ably” rather than the correct “pre-fer-ably.” While it is correct to say you pre-fer chocolate ice cream over vanilla, the accent changes when you use the adverb pre-fer-ably.
• We still seem to have trouble with “less” versus “fewer.” Remember: If you can count the subject in question, use “fewer.” Just two weeks ago, a reporter on 60 Minutes interviewing Penelope Cruz asked her, “You want to make less movies now?” Since she can count the number of movies she makes, he should have used “fewer.”
I have a few assignments for all of you meticulous Grammar Guardians out there:
• Let me know if you see grammatically incorrect LOCAL bulletin/newsletter announcements, signs or headlines.
• Keep guarding MY grammar.
• Send me an email if you have a burning question regarding grammar.
Thanks for Guarding Our Grammar!
Chris Ardis teaches American Sign Language as a foreign language at McAllen High School. You can visit her web site at chrisardis.com and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.