Thursday, June 26, 2008

Miss Worthen, Where ARE You?

It has become very clear of late that not everyone had a fifth grade teacher like Miss Worthen. For proof, I offer Exhibit A, the source of which I shall leave anonymous, as it is irrelevant to my point:

Stop and take a look at what us women have in our closets.

US women?

Miss Worthen – you missed one! Where were you when this poor writer was in fifth grade?

More and more I believe we need an army of Miss Worthens – her primary mission was to prevent ignorant ten year olds from the misuse of personal pronouns. If you, for example, foolishly uttered something stupid like "Me and Jim went to the store" – Miss Worthen would deliver unto you the appropriate punishment. If you were an habitual offender, you would be sent to sit on the floor in the hallway and made to write out the correct construction a specified number of times. Occasional offenders were allowed to sit on a stool in the corner of the room while writing out the punishment.

I admit that I suffered Miss Worthen's punishments a few times. I also admit that because I preferred the hallway (where I had time to woolgather if I wrote fast) to the stool in the corner, I learnt to escalate myself into bigger trouble (by arguing) just to get the bigger punishment. Of course, I didn't prefer the bigger trouble brought by the note home to my parents!

But I digress – Miss Worthen's methods were sometimes harsh, but they worked.

I do not say "I" when it should be "me."

I do not say "me" when it should be "I."

I do not say "us" when it should be "we."

When they are not sure of which word to use, I cannot understand why people don't simply remove the extra words to see how the sentence sounds. In my example above, that's all it would have taken to see that the correct word should have been "we."

Stop and take a look at what us have in our closets.

Miss Worthen was never my favorite teacher. Till now.


Nanci said...

I think I love Miss Worthen.

Occasionally I come across "I and my sister are going..." and that kills me, until I remember that those offenders often are not a native English speakers. When he or she is (or should me say when him or her is? ;-) ) there is no excuse, and I show no editorial mercy!

Tess said...

I just cringe when I hear people use I when it should be me and vice versa. Or SEE people write "loose" when they mean "lose" (that one just about drives me up the wall!)

Definitely a whole army of Miss Worthens needed!

Paula said...

As an English teacher, there are scores of things that make me cringe - such as "it's" when the correct word is "its".

Your cousin

Doubtful Muse said...

Loose and lose | there and their | its and it's | your and you're...

I don't know why it's such a problem to learn these things. And it's everywhere!

People actually send me queries to publish their books with stupid grammar errors like these. These are people who, presumably, want to be WRITERS!

Glad to know your name, Cousin Paula! If you're interested in chatting by email, please feel free to send me one at doubtfulmuse at (Replace the "at" with the symbol -- I don't want to put the "real" email in here to avoid spam)