GrammarPhile Blog

A, Eek, I, Oh, and You

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 3, 2012 5:30:00 AM

Happy New Year!

All of us at wish you a happy and prosperous 2012. And now onto our first blog post of the year......

A and An
Such forms as "an historical study" or "an union" are not idiomatic in American English. Before a pronounced h, long u (or eu), and such a word as one, the indefinite article should be a:

  • a hotel
  • a historical study
  • a euphonious word
  • such a one
  • a union
  • but an honor, an heir
This interjection finds its way into written dialogue. It should be spelled as shown, and not as eeek. It is nearly always followed by an exclamation mark.

I, Me
Soon we will have an entertaining Rogues' Gallery on our home page with updates (daily if necessary!) on famous figures of the day who are confusing I and me in their everyday speaking. In the meantime, will someone out there inform Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts that "You can see my secretary or I about that" is absolutely incorrect? And so is "You can see my secretary or myself." Confused on how to tell? Remove the third person (that's the person who is neither I nor me) and see how it sounds. To almost any native English speaker beyond kindergarten, the wording of "You can see I" just grates on the ears.

O and Oh
The vocative O is capitalized, but not the interjection oh, unless it begins a sentence or stands alone:

  • Why, O Lord, does the Redsox bullpen let us down so often?
  • I was shocked, dismayed, and . . . oh, oh, terribly saddened.
  • Oh! It's time to go skiing!

You, Yourself
Don't confuse these two pronouns. You is the second-person singular or plural pronoun in any grammatical relation except that of possessive. Yourself is used reflexively (you might hurt yourself), for emphasis (carry them yourself), or in absolute constructions. The following dialogue displays an all-too-common mistake:
Joe: How are you, Frank?
Frank: Fine, and yourself?
Frank should reply: Fine, and you?

Topics: you or yourself, O or oh, I or me

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