Thursday, September 10, 2009

In The Light Of Day - Grammar Correction

This is a lesson. A lesson to me. A lesson about writing a post (or anything) late at night and submitting it with only a cursory eye toward editing.

In spite of knowing better than to do the above AND in spite of being fairly aware of and conversant with the standard rules of grammar (thought I do not claim to be an expert or master of them), I wrote the following in yesterday's post - Barnes & Noble; Pulling In The Welcome Mat?:

Even the straight back wooden chairs were few and far between and each of them were occupied.

"...each of them were occupied."

God, how it hurt my eyes and my sensibilities to read that line this afternoon in the light of day.

I ignored and overlooked a simple rule; a singular noun requires a singular verb. With the singular noun "each", the plural verb "were" is woefully incorrect. If you removed the words "of them" you can easily see that the resulting phrase, "each were occupied", violates a proper rule of correct grammar and the basics of what obviously sounds right when spoken. I, in writing late at night and in a hurry, fell victim to the mistake of paying more attention to the words "of them" and using the plural verb "were" instead of focusing on the real noun "each" so that my verb would be the singular "was."

If you look at the post now you will see that I have made the correction. You may notice that instead of just correcting "were" to "was" ("...each of them was occupied") that I went a step further. Simply correcting the verb would have rendered the sentence grammatically correct, but removing "of them" completely makes for a better sounding sentence; one that is more pleasing to the eye and sensibilities.

In addition, part of my error, I believe, was mentally referring back to the plural noun/verb found earlier in the same sentence. It may have been better to write them as two separate sentences:

"Even the straight back wooden chairs were few and far between. And each of them was occupied."

But I liked the flow of the sentence as it was originally written, so I only changed the last part of it.

I read spelling and grammatical mistakes on blogs and webpages every day, usually many times a day. What makes me cringe even more when reading them is to see that the people penning the errors have identified themselves as journalists or writers; people you would expect to know better. I very seldom see an acknowledgment or apology for the mistake. This is mine.

Mea culpa.

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