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?

13 comments on… “Someone make sure I’m not a pod person!”

  1. Oh my goodness! This is awesome, Diana–especially since I have a post drafted for this or next week on when to use I and when to use me. Great minds? I’ll definitely be referring to this. I love your examples!

    And the Grammar Police don’t always have to issue a ticket. They can give some mercy too with just a warning. You’re still a-okay. 🙂

    • Thanks, Julie! Definitely, great minds!

      Sometimes the Grammar Police just sits and monitors the syntax traffic without pulling over offenders at all. 😉

      I look forward to your post!

  2. Wonderful way to get this across. I’ve also seen this on television a lot lately and it has bugged the snot out of me. 😉 Seriously, what is happening to our society that even the television script writers can’t get it right. Ugh!

    • Thanks! I know people talk that way, but I do expect TV script writers to know better. Then again, I know better, and I still caught myself using it. *hangs head in shame*

      I’m glad I’m not alone in this. 🙂

  3. Grammar Police could nail my manuscripts and I plenty of times. Good thing me and my writer friends can correct each other. And then there are great bloggers the WANAs and me can always count on to teach us a thingie or two!

    Sorry, Diana, but I just had to set some bad examples in me comment here. Me hears a siren. Grammar Police it must be!

    Seriously, love this post!


  4. Jay Holmes


    Oh Wow. In your picture you look so kind and trustworthy. Now I discover that you are not only a Lt col. in the Secret Grammar Police but that you enjoy it.

    “Sophie isn’t going to Maui without her and Zander.”

    Well, I’m going to Maui and Sophie and Zander should just keep their distance and not bug me with their angst while I’m there.

    This is why I prefer Spanish rather than English. In Spanish you can become fluent and it only requires a little bit of passion for ideas or at least a few ideas about passion. In English one may endure anguish and work diligently for a life time and nearly become expert but never fluent. English never flows down a gentle slope in a cool stream on warm summer day. English rattles and jostles it’s way through a dank and dangerous subway network on a cold rainy night. On such subways one should always carry a second firearm.

    Thank God I have piper Bayard to endure the rigors of English. I’ll just stick to my ideas and the passion that I inherited from my Spanish ancestors. It’s sunny here today…or should that be hear, hair or hare? Before my head explodes from grammatical overpressure let me go find my cool stream.

    • A bit freakish, aren’t I? 😉

      I completely agree with you that English rules and exceptions are complicated and borderline insane. I studied French for 6 years, which helped me with English (scary, I know). French rules are much easier to learn, too.

      You and Piper make a great team!

  5. Am a bit late in commenting on this post, Diana, but I so enjoyed it and wanted you to know. I studied German, and like Spanish and French, the grammar is easier, which I think is true for most of the Romance languages but I am old and often, my recollections suit my mood and lapsed grammar. Terrific post!
    Karen

    • It’s never too late for you, Karen! And I believe recollections and lapsed grammar happen at every age to suit a person’s mood. 🙂

  6. Wow, you ARE a grammar nerd. If you have any other grammar information, just email myself. (Did you see what I did there? I just cleverly illustrated another one of myself’s pet peeves: the horrendous and generous misuse of “myself”.) I love you, Sister, and me enjoy your blog posts! Keep it up or you’ll have myself to answer to at.

    🙂


    • Diana Beebe


      I love you, too, Brother! I’m so glad we share some of the same pet peeves, because that means you can still be my brother. LOL (Just kidding…a little bit.)

  7. Pingback: Pronoun Disagreement? Lose the Friends | Diana Beebe's Blog

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