Children copy what they see and what they hear. As educators we need to be at the top of our game setting good examples. I recently heard a political director for a prominent news hour say, “Him and Walker were really doing a lot of that.” He followed it with, “We seen them.” Not long after that, I heard a well-known vocal artist say, “You and me can do things together.” Walking down the street, I heard these comments: “He don’t know it,” and “Him and his brother had a condo.” The lead actor on a police program said, “What else do we got?” Even in the Annie movie, children will hear, “I never seen a bow this big.” Where has our English language gone? If we don’t set the standards for what we teach and what we say, our students will be making the same kinds of mistakes. As we are looking back on last year’s school year and ahead to next year’s, let’s concentrate on our own grammar and what we’re communicating to our students.
Some of the mentioned grammar mistakes are easily fixed. Let’s look at one such common mistake—using the wrong form of a pronoun—and learn a simple process that we can teach students for determining the right form of a pronoun to use.
Pretend you went out for dinner and are now telling a friend about it. Should you say, “Me and her went to dinner,” or “She and I went to dinner,” or “Her and I went to dinner”? The answer is fairly simple to determine.
- First, start by eliminating her or she.
- Look at what’s left. Would you say, “I went to dinner,” or “Me went to dinner”? Of course, “I” is correct.
- Next, eliminate the “I” from the sentence. Would you say, “She went to dinner,” or “Her went to dinner”? “She” is correct.
- We have two subjects: she and I. In compound subjects like this, the I always comes last.
- Now put it together. “She and I went to dinner.”
When you eliminate yourself or the other person, it's easy to determine what’s correct. Whenever you are talking about two or more people in a sentence, and you’re not sure whether to use he/him, they/them, I/me, etc., determine what sounds right, one person at a time. Then put it all back together again.
We all make mistakes from time to time, but be aware of what you’re saying and set the best example possible. Remember, children repeat what they hear. Use this summer to listen to what people are saying. Write down any of those grammar mistakes that you want to make your students aware of next school year. Start the year off with the right words!
Share Your Story:
Do you think it’s important to use proper grammar in everyday conversations? What if students are in ear shot? Share your thoughts by posting under the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!