Melnick at Large
By Arnold Melnick, DO, FACOP
Arnold Melnick, DO, FACOP
You're right; there ain't no such thing. (Yes, ain't IS in the dictionary.) But certain words and phrases seem to occur more frequently - often used incorrectly - in pediatric writing (and speaking).
What mistake is the most egregious one? Failure to observe the rules of agreement: If a pronoun takes the place of an antecedent singular noun, it must also be singular, and a subject-noun and its verb must also agree in number. Complicated? NO! I encounter this error in published works about twice a week. These two examples come from one column in a daily newspaper. The first is a noun-verb failure and the other is a noun-pronoun mistake.
One in six children are bullied. Wrong! "one" is a singular and therefore requires the subsequent pronoun to be "is." The fault here is really not recognizing the "one" (and not "six") is the actual subject and therefore takes the singular verb. "Six" merely confuses the issue. [Remember the words like anyone, everybody, everyone, each, neither and the like are singular - therefore they all take a singular pronoun.] Thus, One in six children is bullied.
Another erroneous quotation: It's best to start by listening to your child's description and asking them specific questions. The antecedent noun is "child", so the singular would be needed.
How does one correct these errors? Three possibilities:
Spelling is often a stumbling block for a lot of us. Think of barbiturate, quadraceps, opthalmology and innoculate. Have you figured out which of these four is wrong? After you decide which one you think it is, click below to see if you are correct. How can youremember the correct spelling? Memorize!
Enough for today - class dismissed. We'll meet again in the library at the English grammar section! By the way, did you notice the grammatical error in my title? Grammer is spelled wrong. It should really end in "ar."
To see if you are correct
Do you have some favorite personal or office anecdotes? Are you willing to share them with me? I’d like to collect them and maybe share them with others. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your name and address (street or e-mail). They will be appreciated.