: when verbs don’t agree :

ringThings get out of hand.

According to the rules, which are rigid and unbending, verbs must agree with subjects. End of discussion. And if they don’t? Then you, my friend, will be labeled a dope and banished from decent society. This is according to experts and English teachers, right-thinking people of all stripes.

If the subject is singular, the verb is singular. If the subject is plural, the verb is plural. Fine, but what if the subject is non-specific, like ‘few’ or ‘contents’ or ‘any’. That’s where it gets hairy. Exceptions and technicalities abound. And who, pray tell, has time to learn the petty ins and outs of grammar?

Well, I do, but I lack the desire. So I located a loophole. A great, big, gaping loophole to shove every mistake into — from minor misstep to blatant stoopidity. Twist some words, contort their meaning, yank it out of context and, bingo, we’ve got the perfect cover.

Plus, it comes from no less an authority than The Elements of Style, which clearly and explicitly states the sole duty of a writer is to satisfy him/herself. 1 So if starting trouble between verbs makes you happy, knock yourself out. Feel free to mix and match tenses, dangle participles, use double negatives, whatever floats your boat.  I like the simplicity of that approach myself. It’s easy and effortless; things I excel in.

In fact, I’m so charmed by the theory of pleasing yourself, I’ve formally adopted it as my life’s mission. Right now, I feel it’s my duty to take a nap. So …

copyright © 2016 the whirly girl


1
“Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one.”
page 84, The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, copyright 2000

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: