I do love CaliforniaTeacherGuy. He sent me this email last week:
My dear Mrs. Chili,
Here are two tortured sentences for you. Perhaps you’ll be kind enough to tell your readers what’s wrong with each one:
“Ecuador wants $350 million a year for it not extracting oil under the Yasuni reserve.” (Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2008)
“It’s estimated that one in 150 children in the United States have autism.” (NEA Today, February 2008)
I love CTG – he finds great Grammar Wednesday fodder for me in some pretty reputable places.
The first sentence references back to this GW episode on gerunds. Ecuador wants the money in exchange for the ACT of not digging in its reserve. We need the possessive pronoun there because it’s the county’s action (or, in this case, its lack of action) that we’re talking about.
The second sentence goes back to my gripe with General Mills; have I told you about this already? About a year ago, I was sitting behind a box of Fruity Cheerios when I saw that the cereal company makes the claim, right there on the box, that only “one in ten kids get enough whole grain.” The subject of that sentence is KID – singular, ONE kid. The same with CTG’s sentence – only one child in 150 children HAS autism – the verb should be singular to reflect the singular subject of the sentence. (I double-checked whether the numbers should have been worked consistently – if one and 150 should either have been written out in numbers or in words – but found here that writing one in words and 150 in numbers is grammatical).
Happy Wednesday, Everyone!
*Kizz commented that it would be helpful if I included corrections for the sentences when I write GW posts like this, and I think she’s absolutely right. Here, then, are the corrected sentences for CTG’s examples:
Wrong: Ecuador wants $350 million a year for it not extracting oil under the Yasuni reserve.”
Right: Ecuador wants $350 million a year for its not extracting oil under the Yasuni Reserve. (note here that I capitalized “Reserve,” as well, as I suspect that “reserve” is part of the place’s name…)
Wrong: It’s estimated that one in 150 children in the United States have autism.
Right: It’s estimated that one in 150 children in the United States has autism.