Defense of English words

Many problems in English come from using the objective case where the subjective case should have been used or using the subjective case where the objective case is correct. Errors occur especially with pronouns, the words that substitute for nouns to avoid annoying repetitions.

Some of these errors are so prevalent that it seems that they will eventually become an acceptable part of English despite their blatant incorrectness.

For example, if someone knocks on the door, the answer to the question “Who is it?” It should be, “It’s me.” But the trend is to use “It’s me.” That is clearly a violation of the pronoun and the antecedent agreement where IT is subjective and ME is objective. But trying to change the habits of the world is as difficult as changing the rotation of the earth.

Another example is the incorrect application of the subject case or objective case in each of the following:

I and she they’re going to feed Heathrow their meat and potatoes.

Heathrow removed the meat and potatoes from my friend and I.

The correct forms should be:

She and me they’re going to feed Heathrow their meat and potatoes.

Heathrow took his meat and potatoes from my friend and I.

Since pronouns still have variations in the form of the case, unlike the nouns whose place they occupy, that is where the problems occur.

Putting the names that the pronouns refer to would solve the problem.

Larry and Hermione they’re going to feed Heathrow their meat and potatoes.

Heathrow took the meat and potatoes from my friend. Hermione and Larry (That’s me) [See how awkward the correct form, That is I, sounds because it is so rarely used?

Pronouns still use CASE forms to identify their particular usage in the context of the sentence. Unfortunately, inadequate teaching, poor learning, or a combination of the two has perpetuated the problem. One cannot correct what he doesn’t recognize as incorrect. Before you can understand the problems of CASE, you must first know WHAT case is, where it comes from, and why it is called what it is.

The past participle of the Latin infinitive cadere (to fall) is casus, from which English has derived one of its most difficult concepts for students to grasp: Case! What kind of convoluted ideology went into making THAT a part of English grammar? It is a remnant of Latin via Greek. The term merely refers to the fact that the inflections (endings attached to a base to signify meaning) actually had been depicted on a graph to show how the patterns fell progressively from the Nominative through the Locative. Use your imagination to focus on what I mean. I will give you two methods with which to work.

1. Visualize a straight line just like any one of the horizontals on a sheet of lined paper. Place, in your mind a perpendicular from its center upwards (like a huge plus sign (+) without the part sticking down below the horizontal).

Perhaps a right triangle without the hypotenuse would be easier to grasp.

2. The area between the top of the vertical and the right end of the horizontal is the “falling zone” or that area in which the Greeks considered where the incidents of the cases would fall (fell: casus) in order from the nominative to the locative.

3. Consider the vertical leg to be the NOMINATIVE CASE and the horizontal to be the last case in the series to be the LOCATIVE CASE.

4. Now consider 5 straight lines beginning at the vertex, the inner part of the right angle, shooting outward to form decreasing degrees in 20 degree increments.

5. Each of these lines represent the seven cases which are enumerated below:

a. NOMINATIVE: This is the case for all words that function (act like, perform as, are designated as, look like) SUBJECTS, or PREDICATE NOMINATIVE.

b. GENITIVE: The genitive case {from the past participle of gignere [to beget ( see John, I, 1), genitus]} refers to all words that show possession, measure, or source.

Hunh? You know, this ball is John’s (possession), I mean, it’s John’s ball. That is possession.

What about the measurement? Ahhh – John walked a distance of one mile. OF A MILE measures a distance for the Latin word MILE to take the genitive.

Source: We are residents of ROME; the book is made OF PAPER PRODUCTS (double genitive: source and possession).

vs. DATIVE: By name alone and without any knowledge of Latin, a reader would have no idea why this mysterious case is called DATIVE. Look at the source. It comes from the Latin word DARE [pronounced dah ray] which is the infinitive of the English word GIVE (the etymology is at the end of the entry in a good dictionary). How important is “giving” to DATIVE? The DATIVE case applies to words that represent recipients of what is given. Therefore, in the sentence: Mama gave Heathrow her share of meat and potatoes, – Mama is the giver; Heathrow is the receiver; and the meat and potatoes are what Heathrow got (he was really in the mood for pasta). Heathrow, in Latin, would be in the dative case; but, in English, it would be called an indirect object for no other reason than there was no good way to express the relationship directly. In fact, the term Indirect Object in English sheds no light on its meaning or relevance. That is probably the reason for its atrophy, its ultimate disuse, as a relevant term in English grammar.

D. The third line would represent the ACCUSATIVE case, in which are the words that are DIRECT OBJECTS (For whatever reason they are called like that -) in English. The word ACCUSATIVE itself is actually a misinterpretation (mistranslation?) For the Greek word AITIATIKE, which represents what is CAUSED by, or the RESULT of the verb. The aforementioned is really more than you, dear reader, really need to know. Therefore, when Heathrow received his meat and potatoes, those items were the result of the donation, and he, Heathrow, was the recipient (indirect object, dative case) of the verb. Just to add a little complication for flavor, the Latin ACUSATIVE CASE is also used for certain prepositions that show direction, etc. Too esoteric for you? Well. Skip that and I’ll address those issues in another article.

me. The fourth line is for the oh so complex ABLATIVE CASE in Latin, a case that has so many twists and turns that it deserves an entry for itself. On the surface it is the case that encompasses specific objects of prepositions that show separation (as in THE SENATOR LEFT ROME), or the manner in which an action is performed, or the agency through which an action is performed, or the means (without a preposition) by which an action is performed, or the direction in which an object leaves the scene. Furthermore, the ablative case has adopted the essence of what is fondly known (and cursed) the ABLATIVE ABSOLUTE. Its English equivalent is the Often Ignored Nominative Absolute, which has the same function: to create a sentence unit that itself has no grammatical relation to the main or dependent clauses of a sentence, but which DOES have some relevant information to make valuable his existence. . It might have a phrase of its own, but it probably doesn’t deserve it.

F. The fifth line goes to the LOCATIVE or VOCATIVE case, whichever you prefer NOT to put at the end. I chose the VOCATIVE, which is rooted in the word VOCARE, which means TO CALL. Therefore, the vocative case is specifically designated for DIRECT ADDRESS, or speaking directly to a person, place, or thing (as can be done with personification in poetry).

eg Heathrow (vocative), your meat and potatoes are ready.

gram. The last line, which forms the base of the right angle, goes to either of the two that was not on the previous line. In this case, it is the LOCATIVE CASE, which is reserved for specific places such as: Heathrow is at home waiting for its meat and potatoes. The word HOME, in Latin, would take the Vocative case.

What happened to all these cases in English? They still exist, but the English merged some of them into one.

The nominative case, also known as the subjective case, has as members all the words that are subjects, nominative predicates, and adjective predicates. However, just as the rules are bound to be broken, there are exceptions. The subject of the infinitives is in the objective case. Thus, in the sentence: I knew that Heathrow was the one who ate meat and potatoes, in Latin, Heathrow would be in the objective case (as the subject of the infinitive, to be; and ONE would be in the objective case as the subject of the infinitive COMER.

The genitive case is now known as the possessive case and its indicators are the word OF or apostrophes added to a word or any noun.

All other cases have been absorbed into an English catch all case called the TARGET case. It covers all the objects of prepositions, direct and indirect objects, and all the functions of the ablative and the locative. The vocative has been renamed and named for its function: direct address.

But, the most distinctive change is that the endings (inflections) have been removed. Simplicity? Laziness? Practic sense? Just the winds of change? Whatever the reason, the endings are gone. His ghosts are still somewhat evident in some pronouns, but that’s another article to be addressed in the future.

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