The “I love my readers” edition!
California Teacher Guy, stalwart supporter of Grammar Wednesdays here at A Teacher’s Education, sent me this email yesterday morning:
My dear Mrs. Chili:
I wrote this response to someone who commented on my blog:
Ms. V: Yes, I trusted–waffling, wavering and weaving every step of the way! Somewhere in the Bible is says that God is faithful even though we are not. It’s a good thing, otherwise none of us, least of all me, would make it.
So here’s my question: Is the phrase “least of all me” correct? Or should I have written “least of all I”?
Whichever is right, tell me (and all your readers) why, O Glorious Grammar Maven!
First of all, thank you for the question – I really do love it when you – any of you – send in Grammar Wednesday fodder. Second, though, I’m not sure I quite qualify as a Glorious Grammar Maven. I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I don’t claim worth enough to have earned the title.
I have scoured my style manuals and grammar guides for the answer to this question, but none was immediately forthcoming, so I’m going to have to wing it:
I’m going to say that it’s “least of all me.” Us is a first person, objective pronoun – it’s used as the object of the preposition in the phrase none of us, which comes directly before the structure you’re questioning – none of who? None of us, not none of we. Me is a first person, singular objective pronoun, which matches the case of the first prepositional phrase – I may be the least of all, but the least of all is me (in the first of those structures, I is the subject of the clause; in the second, least is the subject and me is the object of the verb is – the least of us is who or what? Me).
It’s not immediately obvious that this is true, though – I admit to thinking about it all day and coming up with different answers. If we move the structure around, we say that I am the least of all, and if we took the first bit out – the part about none of us – we would say that I wouldn’t make it. I’m pretty sure, though, that we say me in the structure CTG created because we’re keeping the pronoun cases consistent.
Feel free, linguists, to shred my answer; I am well aware that I may well be full of shit here, because I have nothing written by anyone smarter than I to back my answer up.
Leah of asked this in a comment yesterday:
How do you make a non ‘s’ ending plural word possessive?
I washed the children’s clothes
I washed the childrens’ clothes?
He accidentally walked into the women’s locker room
He accidentally walked into the womens’ locker room?
You get the idea. It’s been bugging me, but my grammar books really are packed away right now.
Leah, plurals which don’t end in ‘s’ take an apostrophe-s to make them possessive; the first sentences of the examples you gave were correct. Further, you’d say something like “the geese’s honking kept her up all night” or “the oxen’s yoke is in need of repair” or “the people’s votes don’t seem to count for much anymore.”
Thanks, you two, for keeping the Grammar Wednesday flame lit! Keep those questions and comments coming!
Happy Wednesday, All!