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The Trouble with Real World Grammar Rules

Aug 18, 2007
Common wisdom dictates that if a grammatical "mistake" becomes common enough, it is no longer a mistake. The rules of grammar supposedly adapt to real-world usage. Real-world usage aside, the pervasive use of "me and so-and-so" in our culture drives me nuts!

It used to be, "George and I went to the store." Back in the old days of 30 or so years ago, if someone said, "Me and George went to the store," the listener would quietly come to the conclusion that the speaker was a bit slow. Nowadays, turn on the television and the newscaster is saying, "Me and ... blah, blah, blah." Talk radio hosts say it. Even educated people such as lawyers and CPAs have embraced the "me and my client" culture.

You know what's even scarier? I have intentionally included the "me and George" error and other grammatical mishaps in this article and ran it through Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar check. Guess what? It didn't even catch the errors!

Is this sloppy grammar just the product of a narcissistic "Me, me, me culture?" Are we just getting dumb? Or am I way behind the times and getting dumb as a result because I am not using real-world usage?

Frankly, it's been many years since I suffered through a semester of grammar class. I can see or hear what's off with a sentence but do not know what the error is specifically called. So, here's the practical, common sense rule as I understand it from second grade:

Take out the third person and see if the sentence makes sense. If you're saying "Me and George went to the store," keep George out of it and try this: "Me went to the store." Sounds ridiculous, eh? Conversely, split up the proper form and we have, "George went to the store," and "I went to the store." You can do this with a variety of sentences to easily figure out what makes the most grammatical sense.

Common sense aside, those of us who are offended by the constant "me and so-and-so" grammar can at least take comfort in the fact that pronoun variations such as "Me and him went to the store" or "Her and me went to the store" have not yet skyrocketed to the top of the common usage charts.

Now that this irritant is off my chest, me going to the store. Maybe George wants to go, too.
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