Posts Tagged ‘English’

Pronouns are evil

January 30, 2014

Recall that a pronoun is a word that refers to something else.

I have a friend who never calls his wife by her name, he always uses pronouns to refer to her. For example:

She does the taxes.

She works at Home Depot.

“She” is a pronoun. I have never said anything to my friend, but I think it is disrespectful for him to refer to his wife by “she”. This is much better, I think:

Mary does the taxes.

Mary works at Home Depot.

Don’t you think that is much nicer?

I have another friend whose wife uses pronouns for everything. For example:

Did you do that?

“That” is a pronoun. My friend is expected to figure out what “that” is. My friend’s wife would be much clearer if she said:

Did you do the laundry?

Don’t you think that is much clearer?

By the way, my friend informs me that sometimes when his wife uses “that” she is referring to something from a week past!

Lesson Learned: we would all be a little bit better off if we used fewer pronouns.

Speak better and write clearer using English-Prime (E-Prime)

November 17, 2013

Some scholars advocate using E-Prime as a device to clarify thinking and strengthen writing.

E-Prime (short for English-Prime, sometimes denoted É or E′) is a prescriptive version of the English language that excludes all forms of the verb to be. E-Prime does not allow the conjugations of to be—be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being— the archaic forms of to be (e.g. art, wast, wert), or the contractions of to be—’s, ‘m, ‘re (e.g. I’m, he’s, she’s, they’re).

For example, the sentence “the film was good” could not be expressed under the rules of E-Prime, and the speaker might instead say “I liked the film” or “the film made me laugh”. The E-Prime versions communicate the speaker’s experience rather than judgment, making it harder for the writer or reader to confuse opinion with fact.

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