Gotta Love Internet Grammar: Pronoun Abuse
Have you seen that coffee mug that says:
“I’m mentally checking your grammar“? (Available from CafePress)
Well, a lot of us grammar nerdies do the same thing with Internet stories.
My chuckle for today came from a video clip and story from Jukin Media showing a pediatrician giving shots to a baby.
(I misread Jukin at first as Junk In. Second chuckle)
“This pediatrician was giving a baby a shot when he began singing a song to keep them calm. As he hummed a goofy tune and playfully poked their tummy, he quickly administered the shots and distracted them from their pain.”
The writer used three singular and four plural pronouns in two awkward sentences. he, them, he, their, he, them, their
To avoid the his/her problem, the writer used plural pronouns. While this practice is becoming more accepted, it’s awkward and grates on grammar proficient ears.
If a sentence seems awkward, rewrite it. Try this next version with one pronoun.
To distract the baby, the pediatrician tickles and taps the baby’s arms, legs, and tummy while singing a boppy song. Tickle, tickle, tickle. Bop, bop, bop…Shot. Giggle, giggle.
Success! No tears.
One more shot. Tickle, tickle, tickle. Bop, bop, bop. Shot.
Oops. Baby takes one deep breathe, scrunches up his face, and howls.
Oh well, it worked the first time.
If you have too many pronouns in a sentence, you will produce an awkward sentence and possibly confuse the reader. Rewrite it.
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Read an excerpt of Triumph Over Terror here.