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Parsing Pronouns




I always enjoy Barry Evans' columns, and am envious of his ability to make even as unpromising a subject as pronouns ("Lord, Is It Me?" Dec. 27) entertaining, especially right after writing a column on hell -- a tough act to follow.

He's so right -- most of the time. Nobody I know would ever say, "It is I," except as a joke, certainly not me. If asked, "Which bunch of idiots is responsible for this mess?" I can't think of a soul who would respond with strict grammatical correctness, "We are they."

I take offense, however, at the idea that saying "my friends and I" puts one on a high horse. On the contrary, saying "my friends and me" makes a decently educated person sound as if he's trying far too hard to avoid being tagged as a college professor. He ends up unintentionally stereotyping working-class people as ignorant hicks.

More common, I've found, is the opposite type of error -- what my high school journalism teacher and mentor Milt Goldman called "psuedo-genteelism." Having been taught it is incorrect, and in fact vulgar, to use the word "me," many well-educated people I know go the other way and say, "between you and I," and even in some cases, "between he and I." Egads, man! Would you say "between we"?

Finally, with regard to Horton: I believe it is quite correct for Horton to hear a Who, not a Whom, because in this case "Who" is not a pronoun but a proper noun indicating a particular imaginary creature.

Nothing is more stimulating than grammar geeks duking it out. I'd like to see a column on the use of plural pronouns with collective nouns like "everyone" and "nobody" -- not to mention the pseudo-genteelism "I feel badly" and its ilk.

Virginia Graziani, Redway

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