The English language is a west Germanic language. First spoken in early medieval England. It is now the first language in many countries, and the third most common language after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
Due to the assimilation of words from different languages throughout history, modern English contains a vast vocabulary. Thus, a working knowledge of English has become a requirement in many fields, occupations and professions, and, need I say more – writers.
I have mentioned in Karynne Summers excellent Marsocial group ‘Desperate Pursuit in Venice’ the ‘Red Editing Pen.’ a monthly feature which appears in ‘The Writing Magazine,’ one of the best selling magazine of its type in the UK (I get it sent to my address in Spain. I assume it could be sent to other countries as well. I will give the email address to anyone who wants to make enquiries if they let me know).
This month it quotes three sentences and you have to find the errors. It gives the answers elsewhere in the magazine.
I quote part of one – ‘It is several months ago since the nursing staff…’
I didn’t spot the error, did you?
Ideally, you should avoid the use of ‘ago’ and ‘since’ together. The correct practice would to use either on their own. Although the word ‘ago’ often requires the inclusion of ‘that’, e.g.
‘It is several months since the nursing staff…’ OR
‘It is several months ago that the nursing staff…’
THAT AND WHICH
‘Which’ qualifies ‘That’ restricts. The word ‘which’ is far more flexible, e.g. ‘The house that is burning is mine’. OR ‘The house which is burning is mine’. Sometimes, as in the example, ‘It is several months ago that the nursing staff…’ the use of the word ‘that’ is obvious. That is the time I use it when it is obvious.
WHO AND WHOM
‘Who’ is a subjective pronoun along with he/she/it/we and they. ‘Whom’ is an objective pronoun along with him/her/it/us.
I remember to use the correct word (I hope) by substituting e.g. ‘him’ in place of ‘whom’ e.g.
‘I consulted a dentist whom I met.’
‘I met a dentist I consulted him.’
You will have noticed I’ve called this blog ‘The Power of the Pen’. Not a lot of us use a pen to write nowadays, but somehow ‘The Power of the Computer’ does not have the same poetical alliteration as the former. Nevertheless, whatever we use – be it a pencil, pen, computer – we have a responsibility as writers to ensure our writing is grammatically correct. No prizes for finding anything wrong in this essay.