Lindsay Lewis

English/ ESL consultant: Word worker, writer, teacher, mentor and poet. Author of This Won’t Hurt a Bit! on writing clear content.

Hyper-correction- oops!

My mother was a writer and very British- thus self conscious about her accent. I grew up partly in England, so we were taught to speak “The Queen’s English” or received pronunciation to sound proper.
She always told me to mind my P’s and Q’s and was quick to correct an grammatical error, or chide me for saying, “kind of thing.” I credit her for my passion for literature as I could already read by the time I entered grade one.
However, being overly exuberant, my mother did something we linguists call hyper-correction: she overly corrected my language.

The phrase “between you and me” requires the object pronoun me because of the preposition, but my mother insisted on having me say “between you and I” which was wrong. She also didn’t know about linking verbs- those tricky little critters, and had me say ” I feel badly” instead of the correct sentence ” I feel bad.” How do we know?

Linking verbs seem, appear, look, feel, are can be substituted with minor changes of meaning. For example, I feel bad; I look bad; I am bad; I appear bad and so on. If we test the construction with badly, the gaff is evident: I appear badly; I look badly; I am badly…Linking verbs are stative, not action verbs, so they glue together feelings or sensory constructions with words like smell. You smell the coffee ( active ) but the coffee smells good, looks good , is good, etc… Capisce? Grammar is fun. Sorry mom- You had the best intentions and I turned out all right. …(not alright, to be uptight). Be a grammar goddess….Enjoy.

No alternative text description for this image
Seo wordpress plugin by