Pronoun Mistakes #4: TV Talk
Careless grammar in run-of-the-mill television shows no longer surprises me, but I’m still startled when pronoun errors crop up in quality productions, spoken by characters assumed to be educated. Here are some gleanings from my recent viewing.
Note: The third example is an approximation of what was said. However, it accurately illustrates the pronoun error made by the character.
Incorrect: That’s why he was so insistent that me and Mrs. McCarthy left him alone so he could come to you.—Father Brown, Series Three of the BBC production Father Brown, “The Invisible Man.”
Correct : That’s why he was so insistent that Mrs. McCarthy and I left him alone so he could come to you
The pronoun error is using me instead of I in the compound subject “Mrs. McCarthy and I.” I is a subject form; me is an object form. (American usage would probably have “insistent that Mrs. McCarthy and I leave him alone.”)
Incorrect: [Mr. So-and-So] whom, I suspect, would never want to be made a fool of. —Miss Marple, Part 2 of The Body in the Library, BBC production Miss Marple.
Correct : [Mr. So-and-So] who, I suspect, would never want to be made a fool of.
The error is using the object form whom for the subject form who. The error often occurs when who is separated from its verb by an expression like “I suspect” or “I believe.” The pronoun who is the subject of the verb “would want”: “who would never want to be made a fool of.”
Incorrect: Me and my colleagues sold a fake antique to an Italian bishop—Thomas Cromwell, Episode 2 of the BBC production Wolf Hall.
Correct : My colleagues and I sold a fake antique to an Italian bishop.
The pronoun me is incorrectly placed in the subject. Me is the object form of I.
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