Today, we’re addressing more of your pet peeves!
Kizz asked for the various forms of the verb “to hang” (in honor, she says, of the late Iraqi dictator), the forms of the verb “to drink” and, finally, the proper use of pronouns.
The verb “to hang,” an irregular verb, means, of course, to suspend something from above. The forms of the verb change, though, depending on what, exactly, one is hanging:
*We hung our food from a tree branch at the campsite to keep it out of the hands of bears and raccoons.
*The Nazis at Nuremberg were hanged for crimes against humanity.
My dictionary tells me that if there is some sort of legal execution, the older form of past tense of the verb – hanged – is used. If there’s no legality involved, the more common form of the verb – hung – is used; as in “the prisoner hung himself in his cell.”
Drink (and sink and ring and spring and swing and….) are also irregular verbs. The present tense is, of course, pretty easy: I drink, you drink, he/she/it drinks. It’s when you get into the past participal – when you add the helping verb “to have” – that most people run into trouble:
*Christa drank too much water before the race, and had to pee at mile six.
*I had never drunk whiskey before last Christmas.
*The house sank into its poorly constructed foundation.
*The ship had sunk before the crew had a chance to save the gold boullion on board.
My dictionary tells me that “drank” used with “had” or “have” is sneaking into regular usage because of the connotations of “drunk” with intoxication; as in “The group had drank their fill of the museum in just a few hours.” I am resisting that trend for all I’m worth.
Finally, we come to pronouns. This is a HUGE problem for a lot of people and something that stumped my grammar students last semester. What *I* do to figure out which pronoun to use in which situation is take out everyone but the pronoun from the sentence to see which sounds right:
*Steve, Larry and I/me went to the movies on Tuesday. *I* – not *me* went to the movies, so the correct pronoun is “I.”
*Her/She and Jess managed to keep the store open during the blizzards. *She* would have managed to keep the store open, even if Jess weren’t there.
This lesson was actually a “light bulb” moment for one of my grammar students last term: his eyes got big and he said “OH! I GET it now!” He nailed that section of the final, and I imagine that he’s reducing multiple subjects down to just the pronouns – and getting them right – every time.
Questions? Clarifications? More pet peeves? Bring ’em!