Let’s jump straight in this week, and continue with our foray into the glue that holds the literary world together: grammar geekery!
(In case you missed out, last week we covered off the common pitfalls of ‘which and that’, ‘affect and effect’, ‘whether and if’, ‘continual and continuous’ and ‘disinterested and uninterested’…fingers crossed you’re not already uninterested…!)
Without further ado, our grammar tips for this week…
Who and Whom
Oftentimes, this pairing opens up a can of worms. For the record, who is a subjective pronoun (otherwise known as a nominative pronoun). As a subjective pronoun, who keeps company with he, she, it, they and we. Who should be used when the pronoun acts as the subject of the clause.
Conversely, whom is an objective pronoun. As such, whom keeps company with him, her, them and us. Whom should be used when the pronoun acts as the object of the clause.
The idea of subject and object can seem a little abstract, but it really is quite straightforward. For example, if we use a sentence that includes people, the subject of the sentence is the person doing something, and the object of the sentence is having something done to them. So, if I hit my brother Tom (sorry Tommy!), then I am the subject and Tom is the object.
Still having trouble? Then just remember this age-old adage: I love you; you are the object of my affection. In this sentence, not only is you the object of my affection, you is the object of the sentence (ie. I love you, so I am the subject and you are the object).
So, to recap, use whom when referring to the object of a sentence. For example: Whom did you hit? Whom do I love?
And, use who when referring to the subject of a sentence. For example: Who hit Tom? Who loves you?
Lay and Lie
This is one mistake that happens all the time. How often have you seen, said or read the sentence, I laid on the bed (when really, what should have been used was ‘I lay on the bed)? Lay is actually a transitive verb. And all transitive verbs must have one or more objects, as well as a direct subject, to be used correctly in a sentence. The present tense of lay is lay (I lay on the bed) and the past tense is laid (Yesterday I laid on the bed). On the other hand, lie is an intransitive verb. It does not need an object. Its present tense is lie (the mountains lie between India and Nepal) and its past tense is lay (I lay waiting for an ambulance).
Envy and Jealousy
These two terms are not interchangeable. Do not interchange them. Envy describes a longing for another man’s possessions or good fortune. It conjures feelings or discontent and covetousness. Jealousy is much darker. Jealously is when one feels resentment against another because of that person’s success or advantage. It is characterised by suspicious fears. To be jealous is much more serious than to be envious.
May and Might
Again, these two words do not have one in the same meaning. May implies that there is some possibility. Might, on the other, implies that there is much more uncertainty. For example: I may get drunk if I guzzle a whole bottle of wine, implies a real possibility of drunkenness. On the other hand, I might get drunk, is much more indecisive. It could mean that I don’t want to get drunk now, or that I don’t want to get drunk at all, or that I will get drunk soon. A higher degree of indecision abounds.
Fewer and Less
The basic rule when it comes to fewer and less is that you use less with mass nouns (or hypothetical quantities). For example: The company is less successful now than it has 25 employees. And you use fewer with count nouns (things that can be quantified). For example: The company has fewer than 25 employees.
Farther and Further
Similar to fewer and less, the use of farther and further is tied to mass and count nouns. You should use farther for measurable distances. For example: I threw the ball 20 m farther than Tom. And you should use further for abstract lengths that can’t be measured. For example: Throwing the ball caused further implications.
Since and Because
These two are fairly easy to define, yet quite commonly misused. Since should always be used in reference to time. Because is linked to causation. For example: Since I stopped hitting Tom I’ve grown up and gotten engaged. As opposed to: Because I stopped hitting Tom, he no longer has bruises on his arms.
A little bit envy and jealous, this word is used improperly more often than you’d think. If one is anxious, then they are experiencing a looming fear or dread. They are gripped by anxiety. So, unless you are petrified of them, you should not be anxious to see your friends. Anxious does not mean that you are looking forward to, or are excited about, something.
Bring and Take
Use of either the word bring or take is entirely dependent on whether the object is being moved toward, or away from, the subject at hand. If the object is being moved toward the subject, then use the word bring. If the object is being moved away, then use the word take.
P. S. If you’re wondering what autumn leaves have to do with grammar tips, let me enlighten you…not a thing! Rather than relying on boring stock imagery, we’ve decided to go with beautiful photos. Photos that inspire. Photos that make us smile. Fingers crossed; they make you smile too!