Everything Language and Grammar

Posts Tagged ‘speaking’

I Was So Dis-focused—–I Mean Distracted….

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 4, 2009

I heard a commentator on one of the 24-hour news channels use the non-word dis-focus last week. At first, I thought that it was a grammatical hiccup, but then he used it thrice more.

He was talking about one of the political parties using one issue to dis-focus the country from another issue. Did he really think that dis-focus was a word? Did he just draw a blank four times when trying to think of the word “distract”? And if he did draw a blank, couldn’t he have just said “take the focus off”? I wish I knew the answer to at least one of these questions.

I was so jarred by the commentator’s repeated use of dis-focus that I, myself, became dis-focused—-I mean distracted—-and lost interest in what he was saying. That’s something to consider when trying to make yourself sound smarter by using non-words: people will often become so distracted by your grammar that your message will be lost. It’s better to stick with simple, straightforward, standard language.


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Me and You, Me and Him, Me and….Anyone Else

Posted by languageandgrammar on November 25, 2008

This is not so much an English grammar rule as it is English grammar etiquette that says something about the speaker. When referring to yourself and anyone else, the polite thing to do is to put yourself last, not first.


Example: They took up a collection for me and him. (wrong)

Example: They took up a collection for him and me. (correct)


Example: John gave all of his baseball cards to me, Bill, and Bill’s brother. (wrong)

Example: John gave all of his baseball cards to Bill, Bill’s brother, and me. (correct)


Example: The professor wants to talk to me and you after class. (wrong)

Example: The professor wants to talk to you and me after class. (correct)


There’s been a great deal of talk in recent years about the descent of common courtesy into rudeness and the change of beneficence to self-absorption. Using the “me and anyone else” construction instead of the “anyone else and me” construction is just another sad sign of this cultural reality, and it makes a personal statement about the speaker. It’s up to you to decide how you want to present yourself.


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