1 Module 1: The Words We Use, The Worlds We Describe

Module Introduction

This module discusses the strange relationship between humans and language. After explaining how language is a symbiotic technology and what that means for communicating in general, formal and informal communicative contexts are discussed, as is the formal demand that communication be polite, concise, and coherent. Descriptive writing is then introduced as a way to understand general and specific ideas and their relation to one another. Examples are also provided of denotative and connotative meanings in order to better explain the important function an overall impression serves in descriptive writing. Writers rely on the five senses (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and feeling) to describe their experiences and surroundings; writers use those kinds of sensory details to convey feelings about a place, a taste, a sound, a texture or sensation, a person, and even themselves. The overall impression is what draws all of these disparate elements together and gives a description its general purpose. Finally, the prewriting strategy of listing is introduced as a way to generate ideas for a description. (1)

Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • Explain why writing is a kind of symbiotic technology
  • Identify formal and informal communicative contexts
  • Identify denotative and connotative meanings
  • Identify a piece of descriptive writing’s overall impression
  • Use listing to compose a descriptive paragraph using the five senses
  • Apply the characteristics of effective descriptive writing (1)

Readings

  • Online Learning Units

Course Introduction

Use this forum to introduce yourself to your professor and the class. Tell us a little about yourself, including some of the things you expect to get out of this course. This is an opportunity to meet others with whom you can connect and whom you can contact for support during this course.

This discussion is worth 10 points. This discussion does not have a rubric. (1)

Lecture Content

ENC1101 Learning Unit 1

The Curious Crossings of Language And Life

Most of us think of language as a tool we use to help us function in the world. However, close consideration reveals that our relationship with language is a lot more complicated than we think. And a lot, weirder, too.

Consider a job interview, for example. Such a situation is highly stressful for a number of very obvious reasons, but one source of discomfort is especially revealing in regard to language and its connection to who we are or, perhaps, want to be.

When a job interviewee sits across from his or her potential boss or is surrounded by a hiring committee or even sits at home and speaks into a phone or computer interface for a phone interview, a strange thing happens; he or she becomes someone else. Suddenly words erupt from the interviewee’s lips that he or she rarely if ever speaks in casual conversation. Simple answers to questions become complex strings of formal prose as one seeks to sound “professional.” Lies about motivations, desires, hopes, and dreams intersect with half-truths and polite banter about nothing.

The entire meeting is to some extent a charade, of course, a shadow play; the interviewers have read about the potential employee and know all about his or her professional background in advance. The interviewee has read about the company and obviously wants the job. But something else is going on here that has nothing to do with the announced purpose of the meeting: a job interview is, in a sense, a test of one’s language programming. It is as much about the linguistic you, that enigmatic, spectral, secondary nervous system of syntax and diction that speaks, as it is about your corporeal presence in the room.

Yes, the job interview is a kind of Turing test for potential employers. Except this is a Turing test in reverse.

The Turing test was a screening experiment developed by Alan Turing in the 1950’s to test whether a machine was capable of demonstrating intelligent linguistic behavior. Variations of it have been depicted in science fiction movies like 1982’s Blade Runner and 2015’s Ex Machina as well as HBO’s new series West World ; in all of these cases an interviewer solicits answers from incredibly human-like robots to determine the degree to which they have personhood and should be granted the rights that go along with such status.

In the case of the reverse Turing test performed at a job interview, employers are seeking to gage the extent to which the interviewee has been properly programmed by his or her culture; they want to determine whether the potential employee has developed the language necessary to function in a professional environment, has learned how to verbally navigate through the professional world.

Job interviews are so uncomfortable precisely because, as much as one prepares for them, one is at the mercy of the situation on both an external and internal level. Externally because one obviously can’t control the room, the disposition of the interviewers, even to a large extent one’s body as it appears to others (the sweat pouring from forehead and armpits, the nervous stomach, the tics and twitches of the face, the wild gestures of the hands). Internally, because one’s language is itself largely out of one’s conscious control.

Think about it: the more you concentrate on getting your words right, the more they often fail you; many times just considering what one is going to say leaves one without words or at the very least stammering for time and repeating inanities. To speak well, to say what one “really” means, then, is to let go and let that strange linguistic nervous system pipe up in one’s place.

The strange case of the job interview reveals that far from being a common tool, language is in fact a symbiotic technology . In biology, symbiosis is the state of two organisms living together as one, either with one living off of the other or both surviving in a condition of absolute interdependence. If you’ve ever read Spider-Man comics, you’ve probably also encountered Spidey’s enemy Venom, who is a symbiote: reporter Eddie Brock is covered in a black alien substance that serves as a costume that gives him super powers but that forces him to eat people’s brains for sustenance.

Language is our alien symbiotic partner, though it generally lives “inside” us and (hopefully) doesn’t make us eat brains. It does, however, grant us super powers, enabling us to construct whole worlds in which we can communicate, engage in commerce, and suffer through job interviews. And in return we give it life, repeating it in sounds and on paper and on the internet.

Even if you are not exactly in control of this strange alien prosthesis that lives in and with you, that expresses you and sometimes even betrays you, you still have a great deal of influence upon it. And that’s what this class is all about: influencing the language in you in such a way that you can more actively participate in the world. Ultimately, if you practice enough and understand the expectations the world has for you in terms of your academic and professional programming, you can start to get a handle on your linguistic self and coexist with it in a more harmonious way. (1)

Taming the Technological Symbiote: Where to Begin

Now that we understand the complex relationship we have with our language, we need to consider how to approach influencing that relationship in such a way that we might exert a modicum of control over it. Because we are so used to communicating, to speaking with others or writing quick text messages or otherwise signaling our thoughts to the world, language just seems to happen, erupting from us as a natural expression of our inner existence. However, as the example of the anxiety of a job interview has shown, this natural relation to language sometimes appears strained depending upon our immediate situation. In other words, understanding the context within which we are communicating is the first key to understanding how to proactively influence the way we communicate.

Context means the circumstances we find ourselves in when we communicate. The more familiar we are with the context of a situation, the more at-ease we are with our language and the more spontaneous are our communicative acts (ironically, as we have seen, this means relinquishing control to our linguistic selves as we speak freely without worrying how we sound). When we hang out with our friends or spend quality time with beloved and trusted family members, we usually don’t worry so much about what we say or how we say it.

As soon as that context shifts to, say, the classroom or the boardroom, we suddenly have cause for concern, especially when those contexts are new to us. Suddenly the world imposes expectations upon us in regard to how we express ourselves, expectations which we may not have fully internalized. Recognizing this shift in contexts is key, and it’s the first step we take towards influencing our linguistic selves and taking control of the symbiotic technology of writing.

Thus, our first lesson is that context is key. Whether you are writing an essay for a college professor or a report for your business manager, you need to recognize the expectations placed upon you, the parameters by which your communication will be judged. If you related to the anxiety of the job interview situation discussed above, you are already well on your way to understanding the way context influences communication. Imagine someone who doesn’t recognize such context and who approaches a job interview like it’s just another everyday situation, perhaps one similar to a casual meeting with friends, and who communicates accordingly, perhaps cursing, telling off-color jokes, laughing, interrupting, and otherwise carrying on. Sadly, steady employment is not on the horizon for this ignorer of context.

The context differences between the boardroom and the bedroom, the classroom and the club, can be generally qualified as the difference between formal and informal communication contexts . Formal communication requires careful consideration of a set of rules for engagement, rules regarding tone (how one “sounds”), point of view (how one expresses perspective, or the position from which one is communicating), diction (the words one chooses), and syntax (the way one forms sentences). Formal communication also requires the logical ordering of ideas; a formal speaker makes a general point and then elaborates upon it with specific examples and details. Thus, the more formal the context, the more one is expected to be polite, correct, and coherent. Informal communication, on the other hand, refers to the kind of loose, easy interplay we enjoy with close friends and loved ones. (1)

The Context of the Composition Classroom

The whole point of a composition course is to teach you how to communicate effectively in the classroom in order to prepare you for expressing yourself in the professional world. This is an important thing to keep in mind; even if writing isn’t your “thing” or you have no interest in being an English major, learning to communicate on an academic and professional level is key to your success in the formal contexts of the world outside your inner circle of friends and family.

For the rest of the course we will be practicing how to live up to the formal expectations placed upon us by the institutions that govern our existence. As we go from module to module, we will learn strategies for organizing ideas and expressing them according to the formal parameters of the academic and professional worlds.

We will start at perhaps the most informal level we can in terms of academic writing by focusing on narrative writing, also called storytelling, in module two. Given its creative potential and the fact that storytelling is the most common and entertaining form of communication, narrative writing is probably the kind of writing that students enjoy the most. It also allows for more freedom of expression than other kinds of writing as one is encouraged to create a world for readers to enjoy.

However, narrative writing itself relies upon another kind of writing to make the events it recounts truly come to life. Indeed, a good storyteller doesn’t just relate events as they happen; he or she must describe the people who participate in the events and the places in which those events occur. Thus, before we write our first formal essay for the class (the narrative essay in module two), we will learn about descriptive writing and will put together a short descriptive paragraph to practice some of the formal writing principles to come.(1)

Descriptive Writing: Creating a World with Language

Descriptive writing is when a writer translates the five senses (touch, taste, hearing, smell, and sight) into language. Writers rely on sensory detail to describe their experiences and surroundings. When describing an experience to someone, writers use those kinds of sensory details to convey feelings about a place, a taste, a sound, a texture or sensation, a person, and even themselves.

Description lies at the heart of storytelling. Authors create believable worlds by describing the objects, places, and people that exist within them.

Effective description allows the reader to get “inside” the mind and spirit of the writer. When a writer does a good job describing a fine dinner, the reader should easily be able to imagine the smell, taste, and sight of each delicious bite. Likewise, when someone meets a person for the first time at the airport, that person should be able to spot the traveler in the crowd based on the description of features or characteristics, such as height, skin tone, hair color, or type of clothing.

One of the most popular ways to use description is to describe a person, place, or object—one that is filled with memorable thoughts or feelings, sometimes pleasant or sometimes poignant. Writers use places, people, and objects to convey personal impressions or, as in fiction, to create a mood. Writers do this through the use of sensory detail. For example, one technique to make the description of a place more lifelike for the reader is to close one’s eyes and imagine being in the place described. Another technique is to visit the place or look at an object and describe it as if one has never seen it before. (1)

Overall Impressions: How Descriptive Details Work Together

Arguably the most important thing to understand before developing any kind of writing is to consider the way in which general and specific ideas connect together, and descriptive writing is no exception. Simply put, academic and professional writers use a series of specific details and examples related to a topic—like the sensory details related to an object (how it looks, sounds, smells, etc.)— to convey a general point about it. In many of the more formal essays we will write later in the course, this general point will be explicitly stated as a sentence or series of sentences so that the reader knows exactly what the writer’s overall purpose is, his or her reason for writing.

Descriptive and narrative writing, though, often convey a general point without announcing it to the reader. Instead, the details the writer provides imply what that general point is without openly expressing it. This is because descriptive and narrative writing often engage the audience in a more playful exchange than more formal types of communication, relying upon the connotation of words as much or more than their denotation .

Connotation refers to the secondary level of meaning a word can have, its emotional or cultural significance. Denotation refers to its first level of meaning, the most basic way it can be defined (think of the “d” that starts “denotation” as the same “d” that starts “dictionary meaning”).

For example, consider the word “motorcycle.” Its first level of meaning might be something like “a two wheeled motorized vehicle.” However, if a character is described as riding a motorcycle, a whole host of meanings might enter the reader’s mind related to how motorcycles are understood by many of us in the Western world. Perhaps this character is an adrenaline junky, is affiliated with a group of outlaws, is a rebel or outsider; whatever the case, “motorcycle” is undoubtedly a loaded term, and its appearance can suggest a whole host of ideas that help express a writer’s point without explicitly stating it.

Regardless of the power of such connotative meanings and the fact that many effective descriptions don’t announce their general points, the writer of a description should himself or herself know what that general point is even if it doesn’t appear in the final description. This general point is called a description’s overall impression ; it’s the overall idea a writer wants the reader to understand about the person, place, or object being described.

Consider the following description of a place:

Shadows flickered against the cave wall as the dying fire coughed and spat embers like a sickly, sooty mouth. The wind moaned low as it passed through the cave opening, the very world itself crying for release. A stench hung over everything; decay and the sour sweat of bodies in decline congealed in a noxious haze.

This concise, consistent description never openly announces its overall impression, but it’s not hard to understand what the writer is trying to convey: hopelessness and despair. We can gather that this is the case based on the use of certain comparisons (“like a sickly, sooty mouth,” the inanimate world “crying for release” like a living being might) and other loaded words (the “dying fire,” a “stench” that is made up of the “decay and the sour sweat of bodies in decline’).

Directions: Select each example to reveal more information.

But consider the same passage with a few new descriptive details added:

Shadows flickered against the cave wall as the dying fire coughed and spat embers like a sickly, sooty mouth. The wind moaned low as it passed through the cave opening, the very world itself crying for release. A stench hung over everything; decay and the sour sweat of bodies in decline congealed in a noxious haze. A bright white vase of flowers, perfectly picked tulips and daffodils, sat nearby, luxuriating in the warmth of the space. Next to them Jackson the puppy happily snored, his perfectly groomed fur practically glowing with the shine of good health and happy tidings. And at Jackson’s feet sat a robust lettuce sandwich, perfectly constructed, its succulent, freshly baked bread housing vibrant green leaves promising nutrients galore.

Oh no! Suddenly the overall impression isn’t so clear. Is this a foreboding place of disease and suffering or a peaceful and inviting domicile? Though the contrast of details is interesting, the overall idea is obscured, and we would be justified in thinking that the writer is unsure of his or her general point.

Thus, it’s important to know your overall impression before you start putting together a description. What do you want your readers to carry away from your description? Are you describing a courageous hero or dastardly villain, a dangerous item or a token of love, a comfortable home or an intimidating office building? Whatever you want your reader to understand about the subject you are describing is what your description’s overall impression should be, and all of the details you provide should support that impression, whether or not you openly express the impression itself as an actual sentence in your writing. (1)

Prewriting Strategy: Listing

Throughout this course we will discuss various ways to generate ideas for a writing assignment; such methods for idea generation are called prewriting strategies. Every student prewrites differently, so you won’t be required to use a particular method, but you should always spend some time coming up with ideas and playing around with their connections before committing to writing a draft. Otherwise, your final product won’t be well-organized or well-supported.

For this first module, you are going to write a short descriptive paragraph conveying a dominant impression of a person or place in order to experiment with general and specific ideas and their interrelation. As we have discussed, effective descriptions have overall impressions that are conveyed through coherent specific details that complement one another. For such a detail-oriented assignment, listing is perhaps the most effective prewriting strategy one can use. Listing is exactly what it sounds like: you jot down whatever comes to mind about a particular topic for a few minutes, and when you stop, you look back at the list and pick out those details that are most interesting and relevant.

Keep in mind that prewriting can be performed at various stages before drafting. Thus, you might list a bunch of ideas to come up with a specific subject to describe and then list ideas again to figure out what your overall impression is going to be. On the other hand, you might know immediately what your subject and impression are going to be (sometimes an assignment just clicks for you!), so you might then use listing to come up with the specific ideas that will support the overall impression you’ve decided to convey.

For this assignment, consider the following list of questions to help guide your prewriting. Whatever you may be trying to describe, it is effective to break the subject into parts or lists to make the description easier to imagine. In order to do this, imagine what that subject might be and answer the questions that are applicable to it.

  • What can one see?
  • What can one hear?
  • What can one smell?
  • What can one taste?
  • What can one feel (with hands, feet, etc.)?
  • What emotions can one feel? (1)

Attribution

(1) Content by Florida State College at Jacksonville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .

ENC1101 Learning Unit 1.2

Framework: Thinking about Texts

Introduction

Reading other people’s writing is always an effective way to get a better handle on a type of writing or even a particular writing assignment. In later modules we will provide you with various sample essays, some by professional writers, some by students, to help you grapple with each module as a whole and to help prepare for your own writing.

For this module, let’s take a look at an essay by Elisa Ip, a student in her second year at the University of British Columbia in Canada. In this piece, Elisa does a fantastic job of using description at the beginning of the essay to hook the reader. Note how she uses a sometimes surprising selection of energized language to convey her experience of seeing something dart across her field of vision on a sunny day. (1)

Reading

Select and read this article, “A Wolf in the City” by Elisa Ip (6)

Final Thoughts

As well as beginning the essay with some excellent descriptive moments, Elisa also makes a fantastic case for the power of writing and its ability to make the world around us come to life. Elisa’s symbiotic technology has infused her with the power to overcome what could have been a severe disadvantage (her “visual impairment”) and turn it into a gift, for through her “loss” she has come to describe the world differently. Her writing is now her augmented vision, and through it she can construct fantastic sensory experiences that she can invite others to share with her.

We hope this course can help provide you with the same kind of creative power and the confidence to share your words. Writing with confidence truly does present a key to a whole new world. With patience and practice, you’ll be exploring that world in no time. (1)

Attribution

(1) Content by Florida State College at Jacksonville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .

(6) “A Wolf in the City” by Elisa Ip, Queen City Writers is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 .

ENC1101 Learning Unit 1.3

Grammar Learning Unit 1: Introduction

Why is it helpful to pay attention to grammar and punctuation, including in your own work?

There are several different types of English. While there are some obvious examples of different varieties (e.g., American and British English), there are other differing types, such as formal vs. informal English or verbal vs. written English. There are also different varieties of English that are unique to cultural, societal, or professional groups.

While all of these types of English are equally dynamic and complex, each variety is appropriate in different situations. When you’re talking to your friends, you could use slang and cultural references—if you speak in formal language, you can easily come off as rigid. If you’re sending a quick, casual message—via social media or texting—don’t worry too much about capitalization or strict punctuation.

However, in academic and professional situations you need to use what is called Standard American English. This English is used in such settings so that people can communicate and understand each other clearly and efficiently. How many times have you heard people of older generations ask just what smh or rn mean? While this online jargon is great for quick communication, it isn’t formal; it isn’t a part of the commonly accepted conventions that make up Standard American English.

Grammar is a set of rules and conventions that dictate how Standard American English works. These rules are simply tools that speakers of a language can use. When you learn how to use the language, you can craft your message to communicate exactly what you want to convey. (2)

Nouns and Pronouns

Nouns and pronouns are the “things” in our sentences that complete actions (or have things done to them). They are the most common words used in English. Nouns are words that refer to specific things or people, such as phones, umbrellas, or Nicki Minaj for example. Pronouns, on the other hand, stand in for a previous noun; the same word can refer to several different things. Pronouns include words like those them , and he . Without the right context, it’s impossible to tell just what a pronoun is referring to, but when we use pronouns correctly, they can help us save time and space in our communication. (3)

Nouns

Nouns are a diverse group of words, and they are very common in English. Nouns are a category of words defining things:

  • People (Dr. Sanders, lawyers)
  • Places (Kansas, factory, home)
  • Things (scissors, sheet music, book)
  • Ideas (love, truth, beauty, intelligence) (3)

Pronouns

A pronoun stands in the place of a noun. Like nouns, pronouns can serve as the subject or object of a sentence; they are the things sentences are about. Pronouns include words likehe she , and , but they also include words like this that which who anybody , and everyone . Before we get into the different types of pronouns, let’s look at how they work in sentences.

Because a pronoun is replacing a noun, its meaning is dependent on the noun that it is replacing. This noun is called the antecedent . Let’s look at the first sentence of this paragraph again:

Because a pronoun is replacing a noun, its meaning is dependent on the noun that it is replacing.

There are two pronouns here: its and it . Its and it both have the same antecedent: “a pronoun.” Whenever you use a pronoun, you must also include its antecedent or make sure that the antecedent is otherwise obvious to the reader. Without the antecedent, your readers (or listeners) won’t be able to figure out what the pronoun is referring to. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

  • Jason likes when people look to him for leadership.
  • Trini does her hair and makeup every day—with no exceptions.

So, what are the antecedents and pronouns in these sentences?

  • Jason is the antecedent for the pronoun him .
  • Trini is the antecedent for the pronoun her (4)

Types of Pronouns

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns may refer to the speaker of a sentence, the person being addressed by the speaker, or the person or thing that is being discussed by the sentence. The following sentences give examples of personal pronouns used with antecedents:

  • That man looks as if he needs a new coat. (the noun phrase that man is the antecedent of he )
  • Kat arrived yesterday. I met her at the station. ( Kat is the antecedent of her )
  • When they saw us, the lions began roaring ( the lions is the antecedent of they)
  • Adam and were hoping no one would find us. ( Adam and I is the antecedent of us )

Pronouns like we , and you don’t always require an explicitly stated antecedent. When a speaker says something like “I told you the zoo was closed today,” it’s implied that the speaker is the antecedent for and the listener is the antecedent for you (4)

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are a kind of pronoun that is used when the subject and the object of the sentence are the same.

  • Jason hurt himself . ( Jason is the antecedent of himself )
  • We were teasing each other . ( we is the antecedent of each other )

This is true even if the subject is only implied, as in the sentence “Don’t hurt yourself.” You is the unstated subject of this sentence.

Reflexive pronouns include myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, and themselves. They can only be used as the object of a sentence—not as the subject. You can say “I jinxed myself,” but you can’t say “Myself jinxed me.”

When the first- or second-person reflexive pronoun is appropriate, object-case and reflexive pronouns can often be used interchangeably:

  • The only person I’m worrying about today is me .
  • The only person I’m worrying about today is myself .
  • You don’t need to make anyone happy except you .
  • You don’t need to make anyone happy except yourself (4)

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns, the largest group of pronouns, refer to one or more unspecified persons or things. For example: Anyone can do that.

These pronouns can be used in a couple of different ways:

  • They can refer to members of a group separately rather than collectively. (To each his or her own.)
  • They can indicate the non-existence of people or things. Nobody thinks that.)
  • They can refer to a person, but are not specific as to first, second, or third person in the way that the personal pronouns are. One does not clean one’s own windows.)

Note that all indefinite pronouns are singular. (4)

Relative Pronouns

There are five relative pronouns in English: who whom whose that , and which . These pronouns are used to connect different clauses (groups of words that contain subjects and verbs) together. For example:

  • Belen, who had starred in six plays before she turned seventeen, knew that she wanted to act on Broadway someday.
  • My daughter wants to adopt the dog that doesn’t have a tail.

These pronouns behave differently from the other categories we’ve studied. However, they are pronouns, and it’s important to learn how they work. (4)

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used to indicate ownership of something (in a broad sense). Some must be accompanied by a noun: e.g., my or your , as in “I lost my wallet.” This category of pronouns behaves similarly to adjectives. Others occur as independent phrases: e.g., mine or yours . For example, “Those clothes are mine .” (4)

Pronouns: Person and Number

Person

Person refers to the relationship that an author has with the text that he or she writes and with the reader of that text. English has three persons (first, second, and third):

  • First-person is the speaker or writer him- or herself. The first person is personal ( we , etc.)
  • Second-person is the person who is being directly addressed. When an author uses second-person pronouns, he or she is writing directly to you , the listener or reader.
  • Third-person is the most common person used in academic writing. The third person is used when an author is writing about other people or things and is not referring to him or herself or the reader. In the third person singular there are distinct pronoun forms for male (he, him, his), female (she, her, hers), and neutral (it, its) gender.

Number

There are two numbers: singular and plural. As we learned in when we discussed nouns, singular words refer to only one thing, while plural words refer to more than one of a thing (I stood alone while they walked together). (5)

Below are all of the personal pronouns in the English language. They are organized by person, number, and case:

First Person

Number

  • Singular
  • Plural

Subject

  • I
  • we

Object

  • me
  • us

Possesive

  • my / mine
  • our / ours

Second Person

Number

  • Singular
  • Plural

Subject

  • you
  • you

Object

  • you
  • you

Possesive

  • your / your
  • your / your

Third Person

Number

  • Singular
  • Plural

Subject

  • he / she / it
  • they

Object

  • him / her / it
  • them

Possesive

  • his / hers / its
  • theirs

Person and Number

Some of the trickiest agreements are with indefinite pronouns:

  • Every student should do his or her best on this assignment.
  • If nobody lost his or her scarf, then where did this come from?

As we learned earlier in this module, words like every and nobody are singular and demand singular pronouns. In these examples, the expression “his or her” instead is used instead of just “his” or “her” alone because the pronouns “every” and “nobody” don’t refer to a specific gender, so the writer can’t just assume that those words refer to a male or female. (5)

Case

You and I versus You and Me

Some of the most common pronoun mistakes occur when a writer has to decide between “you and I” and “you and me.” People will often say things like “You and me should go out for drinks.” Or—thinking back on the rule that it should be “you and I”—they will say “Susan assigned the task to both you and I.” However, both of these sentences are wrong. Remember that every time you use a pronoun, you need to make sure that you’re using the correct case.

Let’s take a look at the first sentence: “You and me should go out for drinks.” Both pronouns are the subject of the sentence, so they should be in subject case: “You and I should go out for drinks.”

In the second sentence (“Susan assigned the task to both you and I.”), both pronouns are the object of the sentence, so they should be in object case: “Susan assigned the task to both you and me.” (5)

An easy way to check such sentences is to say them in your head with just the personal pronouns alone. In the first example, “Me should go out for drinks” sounds very wrong, as does “Susan assigned the task to I” in the second example.

Attributions

(2) Why It Matters: Grammar. Provided by: Lumen Learning. License: CC BY: Attribution 4.0

(3) Outcome: Nouns and Pronouns. Provided by: Lumen Learning. License: CC BY: Attribution 4.0

(4) Pronouns. Provided by: Wikipedia. Located at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronoun License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

(5) Pronoun Antecedents. Provided by: Lumen Learning. License: CC BY: Attribution 4.0

 

License

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English Composition I by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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