This shouldn’t be a chapter at all….

Anyway, here we go.

When we want to make something plural (making it more than one), we add an “s” to the word. The exception in most English words is when the word already ends in -s, -s, -ch, or something similar, and then we add an “es”.

I’m not going to speak of busses, buses, women or children here. That’s too complicated for this blog. I’m stayin’ simple.

Where we are goofing up is in adding an apostrophe. Where the heck did that come from? One tree, two trees. Not two tree’s. Simple.

One house. Three houses. One bird. Two thousand birds. It’s not that hard.

Apostrophes indicate that something belongs to someone. Try not to think about that when making something plural.

Bottom line: For simple plurals, add an “s.” Leave the apostrophes out of it.

That pushy “L”–Jewelry and Realtor™

Two weeks ago, we discussed “The R’s that Aren’t” ( Those were those bossy R’s that try to insinuate themselves into words where they don’t belong, such as sherbet and persevere, both of which have enough R’s as it is.

Today we’re talking about the letter L, which does belong in a couple of words we’re discussing, but which continually tries to push itself forward in the pronunciation.

The two words with the pushy L’s are jewelry and Realtor™.

The rude L in jewelry tries to press for a pronunciation of Jew-luh-ree. There are dozens of possible and delightful Semitic jokes to be had here, but I will wisely eschew them. In any event, we never talk about having a new jew-luh, but of receiving a new jew-el. So it’s jew-el-ree. Not jew-luh-ree. (And just because you heard it pronounced that way on a local commercial doesn’t mean it’s correct!)

The problem may well stem from a slurred pronunciation of jeweler, which sometimes ends up as jew-lurh. That may explain why I keep hearing some jewelry store commercials talk about their jew-luh-ry. You’d think they would get the product name right sometime before recording….

The other word is Realtor™, which is actually a trademarked name. I will leave it to advertisers to continue to distinguish a Realtor™ from a run-of-the-mill real estate agent. Only you will know in your heart if you are capitalizing the R when you say it, but I wish to focus on the rest of the word.

What it’s not: Ree-luh-tor.

What it is: Real-tor. Pronounce the first half as real, and you’ll be fine. If helpful, remember that we don’t say “ree-luh estate,” but we say “real estate.”

Sometimes these pesky letters, in this case the L, like to push to the head of the line. Let’s work to keep them where they belong.



Words to Never Say, Part Five

Last week, we learned that saying “Her and I” and “Him and I” at the beginning of a sentence—and any variation thereof—is wrong. If you and someone else are doing something, you say “She and I” or “He and I” did something, or are planning to!

But if something is being done to her and you or to him and you, you still can’t say “her and I” or “him and I” at the END of a sentence. This is much more common, but no less incorrect. Let’s say that Andy is giving the ball to Lisa and to you—you would say “Andy is giving the ball to Lisa and me.” Or “Andy is giving the ball to Jeff and me.”

I’ve heard people say that because it’s correct to say that “She and I” or “He and I” is correct at the beginning of a sentence where he, she and I are the folks doing the action, that it just “sounds better” to say “her and I” and “him and I” at the end of a sentence or thought. But that’s not really the case; it’s just that someone was taught the wrong thing. Sorry. But that’s the case.

The simple way to know what to say is to drop the “she and” and the “he and” and see what you have: “Andy is giving the ball to…me.” You’d never say, “Andy is giving the ball to I.” Putting “her and” and “him and” into the sentence doesn’t change anything. When we put the “her and” and the “him and” in, we keep the “me.”

Just keep dropping out the “her and” and the “him and” when you’re tempted to say “her and I” or “him and I”, and boldly end with “me.” After a while, you’ll come over from the Dark Side of Grammar and keep the “me” where it belongs without feeling weird about it.

Two week lesson wrap-up: Never say “Her and I” or “Him and I”–ever.