Friday Follies #241 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

Hi again, FF pals! Will the Grammar Cop stump you with these criminal cases? Let’s find out!

  1. He wore the kind of boxy T-shirts and fraying jeans of someone life hadn’t handed much in the way of privilege.
  2. My father was the arbiter of knowledge in our house, especially of the geopolitical variety. In fifth grade, he prepped me so well for the geography bee that I won the county – a media coup in Central Illinois.
  3. Protesters in state capitols have been over it for a while.

And the corrections:

  1. Isn’t this a clunky sentence? Yes, it is! We can zoom in on the problem: “of someone life hadn’t handed much.” This is tortured grammar, folks. Let’s rewrite it so it sounds better. One way would be: He wore the kind of boxy T-shirts and fraying jeans of someone to whom life hadn’t handed much in the way of privilege. Still not great. How about: He wore the kind of boxy T-shirts and fraying jeans of someone whose life hadn’t been handed much in the way of privilege. Getting there. Would you like to have a go at this yourself? Leave your creations in the comments below! 😅
  2. Can you guess that these sentences were written by the same perpetrator as #1 above? Yes! In the first sentence, the phrase “especially of the geopolitical variety” is meant to modify the word “knowledge.” But its placement after “house” makes it seem as though it’s modifying that word instead. The sentence can be fixed easily: In our house, my father was the arbiter of knowledge, especially of the geopolitical variety. Or: My father was the arbiter of knowledge – especially of the geopolitical variety – in our house. In the next sentence beginning with “In fifth grade, he prepped me so well,” the problem is that the phrase “in fifth grade” seems to modify the pronoun “he.” But the father didn’t do the prepping of his son when he himself was in the fifth grade…. unless 10-year-olds can be fathers, which is kind of doubtful, let’s face it. 😂 So how to make it clear that “in fifth grade” should modify the child, as intended? One simple repair could be: He prepped me so well for the geography bee when I was in fifth grade, that I won…
  3. Here’s an easy one to conclude our list of lousy language lapses. “In state capitols” in this sentence is meant to refer to the cities, in which case the word is capitals with an a. “Capitols” with an “o” refers to the actual seat of power – the buildings. For example: Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the first woman to lie in state in the US capitol rotunda. (RIP Ruth!)

So ends our little attempt to address some awful abominations of English. Hope to see you all here next Friday! Stay well, everyone!

 

8 thoughts on “Friday Follies #241 – Making Grammar Great Again, One Hyphen at a Time

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