Someone make sure I’m not a pod person!

I did something the other day–it was a thing that I don’t ever do. It horrified me a little.  I don’t know if I’ve been taken over by a pod person.

Movie poster Copyright 1993, Warner Bros
Movie poster Copyright 1993, Warner Bros

What was the horrible thing that I did?

*whispers* I used the wrong pronoun agreement in a compound phrase in a conversation with another person. (OK, so I said it to my mom-in-law who is also a writer.)

*hangs head*

I’m pleading momentary body snatching.

Why was I so horrified?

I used to teach college English grammar classes–the rules were engrained in my memory.  I corrected students to the point that they began correcting each other. Yes, I was the Grammar Police–it was my job–and I enjoyed it.

After I left teaching, I had enough restraint not to correct other people when they broke grammar rules.  (OK, so I don’t correct them out loud–unless they’re my children).

What is this grammar rule that I broke?

My pronoun was body snatched!

These can be tricky sometimes, because they can be subjective (subjects do the action) or objective (an object receives the action).  Hang on for just a second while I get through the technical stuff.

These are examples of compounds that are subjects:

  • Mockingbird and I are going to the store.
  • He and Armadillo planted 50 beans in the garden.

The compound object rule is the one I broke. A compound object is the part of the sentence that receives the action. I said something like:

“Armadillo is going to the store with Mockingbird and I.”

Take the compound out and you can see what I did wrong:

“Armadillo is going to the store with Mockingbird and I.”

It’s pretty obvious that she didn’t go to the store with I. She went to the store with me. A subject behaving like an object is a clear sign of body snatching.

More examples:

Body-snatched pronouns:

  • Mockingbird asked her father and I if she could sell her little sister.
  • Sophie isn’t going to Maui without she and Zander.
  • The pod people want to steal the planet from you and I.

Correct:

  • Mockingbird asked her father and  me if she could sell her little sister.
  • Sophie isn’t going to Maui without her and Zander.
  • The pod people want to steal the planet from you and me.

Read them aloud without the compound, and you can hear the difference.

I’ve seen this rule broken on many TV shows lately, too. Some offending characters are those who love to correct others. They are the pod people, and they are snatching the pronouns. I’m sorry, but you can’t correct others if your grammar isn’t perfect.  (Grammar Police, remember?)

Maybe now, you’ll hear it in your favorite TV shows, too–like that song you can’t get out of your head.  I know. That was evil, but the objective pronoun disagreement pod people must be stopped. I won’t apologize for trying to save our planet before we are all replaced and our planet dies.

That was extreme, I know. The best way to test for pod people is to take out the rest of the compound to see if the pronoun should be the subject (doing the action) or the object (receiving the action) in the sentence.

I promise I won’t ever mess up pronoun agreement in a conversation again. If I do, check for a pod person and the alien race trying to take over our planet. 😉  (No promises about other grammar rules.)

For a list of wonderful places to check your grammar and look up words, you must check out this post by fellow-Texan, Julie Glover.

Are you a grammar guru?  Do you use the language as it happens in your daily life (what rules?!)? Do you have any grammatical pet peeves? Are you a pod person?

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