National Grammar Day Is March 4

Bet you didn’t know that. Want to test yourself?  Can you find the errors in these 5 sentences?

[1] At the Memorial Day picnic, the hilarious horseshoes contest ended up in a tie, so the judges gave the prize to both Sarah and I.

     Correction: To both Sarah and me. We’re all trained to be polite, and something in us doesn’t want to say “I.”  Here’s how to remember: Remove the other person’s name and say it out loud. “Gave the prize to I” is obviously wrong.

[2]  I’ll just pack up the picnic leftovers and give them to whomever can use them.

      Correction:  To whoever can use them. Think back to high-school English class, and the difference between a subject and an object. The entire clause “whoever can use them” is the object of the preposition “to,” and “whoever” is the subject of that clause.  Say it this way – “whom can use them” — and your ear will tell you it’s wrong.

 

[3] Walking down the tree-lined street in October, all the windows reflected the beautiful autumn colors.

            Correction. This is what grammar nerds call a dangling modifier. The windows aren’t walking down the street. Change to something like this: As I strolled down the tree-lined street on a late October afternoon, all the windows reflected the beautiful autumn foliage back at me.

[4] Be sure to let me know the next time your in town; I have a new lunch place for us to try.       

        Correction: You’re in town.  I believe most of you know the difference between your [something belongs to you] and you’re [contraction for “you are”], but I see this error all the time and it flat makes me crazy. Same song, different verse: people who write their or there when they mean they’re.    I know how easy it is to make this kind of minor goof when composing a quick email or text. And I also know it isn’t the end of the world. But this one in particular– your instead of you’re – is like fingernails on the blackboard for me.

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