Problem Pronouns

Things seem to go awry when people use even slightly complicated sentence structure.

The venerable New York Times, usually a stickler for grammar (of an American variety), initially published this:

More familiar to we of the social media era is a type of …

This has since been corrected, changing that we to us (no doubt after readers harrumphed at the error).

You need an object for the preposition to, not a subject. It would be correct, of course, to write We of the social media era are more familiar with …

Someone else who ought to know better (an academic announcing his co-authored publication on Twitter), referred to So-and-so and mine’s book.

Yikes. That should be So-and-so’s and my…

And from the Saïd Business School at Oxford University on LinkedIn: It’s fantastic that Oxford are doing this with its MBA students.

In North America, we’d treat a university as a singular entity, not as a plural collective as they do in the UK, so the problem would have been averted.  

But even in North America we can lose sight of the number we’ve previously used, and something that was originally an it may turn into a they.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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