Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday: Who/Whom

Who or Whom? This one seems SO complicated, but it's actually very simple to figure out. The funny thing about this one is that people tend to toss out a "whom" just to sound fancy here and there. The sad thing is that "whom" is not interchangeable with "who." In fact, they are never interchangeable.

Here's how to do it:

Someone knocks at the door. "Who is at the door?" You yell at your kids who are looking out the window. Wait! Maybe the guy at the door is the Bishop! Maybe it's someone else important. "Whom is at the door?!" You correct yourself in a sing-song voice----all the way saying "Crap!" under your breath because now you've proven yourself a second-guessing grammar geek. Then upon arriving at the door it's only a teenager selling the newspaper. (You got up for that!?)

So which is it? Remember last week how I said you just ask yourself a question? When it comes to who/whom you ask yourself a question using actual words from the sentence in question and answer using actual words from the sentence. The key is to also answer with one of the following words: He, Him, They, or Them.

Q:    Who/whom is at the door?
A:   He is at the door.

Because your answer was "he" you will know that "who" was the right word to use in the sentence.

Let's clarify with a whom answer.
Q:   To who/whom did you say the doughnut belongs?
A:   The doughnut belongs to him.

Ah! Him! Him ends in m so you will use "whom" which also ends in m. So here's the rule: If your answer uses him or them, use whom. If your answer uses they or he, use who.

One more?
Q:  Who/whom should I give these flowers to? [I see the prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence. Do you? We'll cover why that is a no-no soon.]
A:  Give the flowers to her.

Wait! We didn't cover what to do if the answer is HER! Think, think, think.... Her and Him are used similarly, as are he and she. So if the answer is her, it would also be him---so use whom. If the answer uses she, it's the same as he---so use who. Got it?

Exceptions to this rule? I don't think so!

**One thing I don't know is how to designate specific words when I do these blogs. Sometimes I think I should put it in quotes (if the answer uses "she," it's the same as "he"----so use "who") but that looked way too busy. So I tried italics, but that was also a mess. So I left it alone. Is it confusing?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday: The possessive apostrophe

I got lots of good comments (and even some requests!) last week, so I'm going to continue with this week's version of Teach Me Tuesday. Today we'll address the possessive apostrophe/when it is actually appropriate to use  's.

Maybe you're wondering about this sentence:
     Those are Jims candy bars.

Now hopefully last week you read about using s (without an apostrophe) to make things plural, so you know that "candy bars" is correct. [Sidenote: they taught me in editing school that "hopefully" is not actually a word---it should be written "with hope." That's a rule I choose to break.] Now you are wondering about putting an apostrophe in Jims.

One great trick to figuring out grammar is to turn the problem-sentence into a question. For example:
Do the candy bars belong to Jim? If the answer is yes, then use the apostrophe to indicate possession.
Correct:    Those are Jim's candy bars.

Now let's practice:
You're sending out your cute neighbor gift for Christmas. You want to sign it "Love, The Herrins."
You start to stress. You try: "Love, The Herrin's." You think about possession and convince yourself that possession is indicated because the love expressed does indeed belong to the Herrins. Yikes! That's tough! You may be tempted to even write: "Love, The Herrins's." I've seen it, folks! Well, dear Christmas card writer, your first impression was correct. When signing a letter or a card the plural is correct---no apostrophe here! You are simply indicating that more than one Herrin wishes the recipient love. Better yet, save yourself (especially if your name ends in s) and just sign it "Love, The Herrin Family."

One more:  If you were driving past my house and someone asked, "Whose house is that?" Your answer would be "It's Jackie Herrin's house."The house belongs to me, so I get the apostrophe with my name. (And you would use my first name because you really want to avoid saying "It's the Herrins's house.")

As always there is an exception to the rule. You may have seen them in the previous paragraph. Whenever the 's would indicate a word that is a contraction, then there isn't an 's. For example, "who's" could be mistaken for "who is," so "whose'" is actually a possessive word. Same with "it's" being mistaken for "it is," so "its" becomes possessive: "The dog put its foot in its bowl. It's a stupid dog."

And that's it! Not too bad, right? Stay tuned next week for the easy, easy answer to the who/whom dilemma. You'll love it---and you'll sound so smart!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday

I've decided to start a new series on my blog. Teach Me Tuesday.

Background: I graduated with a major in English and a minor in editing. My BYU class was the first to have that option. I love words, and I love grammar. I'm not always perfect here on my blog. I don't really think it is a place to require perfection, but I do try my best and give everything I write a quick once-over before I push publish. I know most of the rules---or I know how to look them up. Sometimes I choose to break the rules when I'm writing. For example: I love to start sentences with conjunctions---sometimes I just feel strongly that a sentence needs to begin with "And." I figure since I know the rules I can break the less set-in-stone rules.

And to the point: I thought it would be good review for me, and good information for whoever cares to read it, to review some basic grammar principles. First up: The Plural Apostophe

There is a trend out there where people use the apostrophe to make things plural (plural=more than one).

Here is a bad example: I saw two dog's on the side of the road.
The correct way to write that would be: I saw two dogs on the side of the road.

Whenever you want to indicate that something is plural, or more than one, just add an s. If the word ends in s, z, ch, sh, or x add es to the end. No need for an apostrophe here folks! Of course there are times where an ies is needed, or it requires another word entirely (person/people), but that's why we have spell check!

Here's the exception to the rule (there are always exceptions to every rule!):
When you want to make a specific number or letter plural, you'll need to use an apostophe:

I have two r's in my last name.
I have one number 2 and no number 3's.

Now, I can almost hear you asking, "What about my CD collection? Do I have CDs or CD's?" Here's the easy answer: You have compact discs. Whenever you're unsure, just change it up!

Stay tuned for next week where you'll learn that there actually is a time to use an apostrophe before an s!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sometimes I Judge People / Thanks, Mom!

Sometimes I judge people.

Shocker, right? Here are things that run around in my head sometimes: Why don't you know to be a more considerate driver? Why aren't you nicer to your waitress? Why don't you know that you shouldn't let your baby wander around church? Why don't you know how to be kind to animals? Why don't you have your newborn wearing a onsie under his clothes? Why isn't living the gospel more important to you? Why do you think it's okay to break little or big laws? Why do you dress like a skank (for lack of a better word)? Why don't you know that an apostrophe should almost never be used to make something plural?  WHY??!??!??

I do it. I notice things and wonder why people behave the way they do. Lately though I've started to think there might be one common answer: Their mothers did not teach them. (Or they were taught and just choose not to care. And in that case, shame on them.) But if your mother didn't teach you, how could you know how truly important some things are? Well, besides the law-breaking part. And the apostrophe. Some things you can learn other places :)

This new way of thinking has helped me be a lot less critical of people. Perhaps their mother did not teach them to be considerate to others and to animals. Perhaps their mother never taught them to be a mother or to respect their body. As I said before, I know a lot of moms do their very best. And I know a lot of people do not have mothers at all. And I am sure that my children fail in many areas because I have failed them, but my point is that I've tried to change my way of thinking to the idea that people were never really taught these basic things.

Grandma Rhoda, me, Claire, my mom---Halloween 2006

My mom has taught me so many things. I've learned of unconditional love, of respect for all of God's creations, and of respect for myself. I've learned from her example AND continued instruction of how to be a mother and how to care for children. She may not have taught me about the proper use of apostrophes, but she did teach me to go to school every single day and do my best to learn ever single thing I could while I was there.

She, like her mother before her, taught me that there is usually some (if not a lot of) good in everyone. That most people want to do good and will do good when given the opportunity. I am so grateful to her and to my grandma for giving me that positive, optimistic hope for people.

My mom taught me to live my religion---that there is no half-way or standing still when it comes to righteousness. Tough as that is to accept sometimes, it has made me a better, stronger person. I'm still working on perfecting it, but I have a lot of great women in my life who have set wonderful examples to follow. I'm sure I still have a lot to learn, but I am so grateful for them and the knowledge and practices they have passed on to me.

My mom cared enough not just to raise me, but to create a decent person, wife, and mother along the way.Thanks, Mom!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seattle Part 1

We’ve just returned from a trip to Seattle for Taylor’s Grandfather’s funeral (grandparent funeral #3 in two months for those of you who are counting). My kids were great. Better than expected---with the exception of a meltdown on the final day. Trust, me you’ll want to stick round to read that post.
The kids were excited because it was their first time to ride on an airplane. When they found out they would be going on an airplane they clapped, yelled, hugged each other and generally rejoiced. I told them I would pack their clothes and that they should pack a few things in their backpacks to play with on the plane. Kyle packed about 20 Hotwheels, his play cell phone, and every single toy airplane he owns. Claire, a bit more sensible, packed a few books, her journal, and every CD she owns (not sure why). Both packed their toothbrushes in their backpacks. We lightened their loads a bit but kept to the general theme.

We woke the kids up at 4:30 am on Friday. Just in time to catch a glimpse of the royal wedding. Claire was impressed. We got to the airport and parked by 6:00. When we got on the shuttle Kyle asked if it was the airplane. No. And it wouldn’t become and airplane. He was pretty confused, but it was super early.
We met Taylor’s parents there, Don (hereafter known as Tie Guy) and Kerry Lynn (hereafter known as Gram). The kids had strict instruction to hold someone’s hand at all times during the trip. This caused a number incidents for Kyle when his hands were full of luggage, food, or seashells and he’d start to cry. When we asked him why he was crying he’d always respond, “The problem is my hands are full and I can’t hold someone’s hand!” Here he is holding Tie Guy’s hand and Claire with T.

We got on the plane with relative ease. The girls and the boys rode together. Claire held my hands tightly for takeoff. I was really nervous she’d throw one of her infamous fits when her ears hurt because of the pressure, but we were armed with gum and she did fine. I have to say that each and every time I fly I’m a bit nervous and completely in awe of the fact that planes can actually fly. And no matter where I fly, the view is always breathtaking to me. When we were approaching Seattle Claire and I saw a circular rainbow that you can only see from planes. It was awesome. I didn’t get a picture of it, but this is pretty much what it looked like:

When we arrived in Seattle we rented a van. It took a little while. The kids had been up for hours at that time and this is how they ended up while we were waiting:

We had breakfast at The Brown Bag, a family favorite restaurant. Kyle ordered a gigantic pancake, it was at least a foot in diameter and super thick. He ate the entire thing. After that we headed to Carkeek Park on the shore of the Puget Sound. A train runs alongside the park, and we were lucky enough to see two of them. Tie Guy spent a lot of time at that park when he was a little boy, and it was a lot of fun seeing it with him.

Can you see Kyle in this picture? He kind of blended into the scenery.

Gram and her funny glasses:

Taylor was an awesome dad and dug around in the ocean for creatures. Toward the end I don’t even think he noticed when his shoes and pants were getting wet. He was able to find a bunch of crabs under a big rock. Can you see it?
A funny picture of Tie Guy. He doesn’t blend as well as Kyle.

Here’s a funny picture I took of a crab’s eye view…

And here’s a cool picture of Tie Guy on the beach.

There were a bunch of “crab heads” at this beach. The kids loved them. Kyle walked up to Gram and said, “Here, Gram. Why don’t you put this crab head in your pocket for me.” If you know Gram and her aversion to creeping things you would know how funny it was. Maybe you had to be there. Here is Kyle having a little roaring battle between two crabs. I know it looks like they are kissing, but trust me, it’s a fierce fight. Kyle loved the crab heads.

The next morning Taylor’s sister and her husband, Rob, had arrived. Kyle was telling them about the crabs and Rob explained to him that you eat the crabs. Kyle got a really worried look on his face then brightened up and said, “Oh, I know! It is just pretend!” Bless his little heart. Of course that night we dined at a seafood restuarant and he found out just how not-pretend it was, but we’ll get to that tomorrow.