Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More grammar!

Due to popular request, I will now delve into a sticky situation to many, namely further vs. farther.

Farther should be used when discussing distances, when referencing a measurable amount of miles or kilometers or whatever.
For instance, "My house is farther east than yours.

Further should be used when talking about something more nebulous, a relative amount of something, generally not distance-related. For example, "You have to read further in that book to get to the good part." This example means that you'd have to advance in the book from your current page to get to an interesting bit.

Similarly, people often misuse "less" and "fewer". Fewer should be used when talking about something that you can readily count. For example, "I have fewer books than you."

Less should be used when you're discussing something that cannot be counted individually. "I drank less water today than yesterday" would be an example. Water isn't something that you can count individually. It's a mass quantity.

If you ever see those express lanes at the grocery store that say "12 items or less", that's not correct. If you're feeling particularly jerkish, you should demand they change it to the correct "12 items or fewer", since items are something that can be counted individually.

There are some exceptions, of course. It sometimes gets tricky with time and money. "That movie was less that an hour and a half" is acceptable, even though hours can be counted individually. Also, "I made less than $100 this week" could also pass as correct. But the phrase "fewer dollars" is ok but it's "less money". Dollars can be counted but money is a mass amount.

Confusing sometimes, eh?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The only victim is common sense

To glean some insight into this posting, I refer you to this article:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/07/10/spain.pamplona.bulls.death/index.html

Surprise, someone got killed at the running of the bulls! What's more of a surprise to me is that more people aren't dispatched at this event. Put aside the inherent stupidity of such an event for a moment and let us concentrate on the use of the word "victim" in the article. My feeling is that if you're purposefully putting yourself in harm's way, and then that harm comes to you, then you're not a victim. You're a fool.

Let's see. Crowds of people. Angry bulls. Sharp horns. Yeah, what did you think would happen? Like I mentioned up top, I'm surprised more people aren't gored to death.

If I'm skydiving and my parachute doesn't open, I wouldn't consider myself a victim. If some lady is looking at herself in her mirror, while holding a cigarette in one hand and the wheel in the other (as I witnessed just yesterday), and gets into an accident, she's not a victim nor is that an accident. If that same lady kills someone in the accident, then the other party is a victim.

It's sad that this guy got killed but it was 100% preventable by anyone with any scruples. The only victim here is common sense.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Grammar!

On the heels of my controversial blog post on spelling, here comes another language peeve of mine. Me vs I.

Why can't people get it straight?

For example:

You and I were invited for supper. --> Correct.
The teacher asked you and I to stay after class. --> Wrong!

Only when you are the subject of the sentence do you use I. An easy trick is is to eliminate all others from the sentence:

I [was] invited for supper. --> Correct.
The teacher asked I to stay after class. --> Wrong and sounds stupid, too.

It should be: The teacher asked me to stay after class. Likewise, adding more people would make it: The teacher asked you and me to stay after class.

See, easy, right?

So now you shouldn't have any problems keeping me and I straight. Unless you're from Laval, then you start all your sentences with both.

Me, I don't like that.