Pilot Editor's Lapse Calls for Instruction
I spoke with a member of the Professional Organization of English Majors (P.O.E.M.) from Lake Wobegon, Minn. She read Steve Bouser's column on grammar.
Her reaction and mine were that Steve needs to find the grave of Mrs. Owen, my former English teacher at Pinecrest High School, and pray for forgiveness.
In his April 22 column, he used the word "and" as an example of an article. It is not an article. It is a conjunction. Starting a sentence with "and" is not the same as starting a sentence with an article. The first is considered a rule that should be broken rarely unless the writer is King James and the publisher is Gutenberg. The latter is permissible but boring.
Secondly, "Think big!" and "Don't go away mad" are different grammatically from "Shop local." All sentences have a subject and a verb. These are no different. These have an understood subject: "you." In the case of "Don't go away mad," the word "mad" is an adjective modifying the pronoun "you" (the understood subject). It is not an adverb modifying "go." It is "you" that may be "mad." Mad is not a method of movement, although it may be the state of Bouser's mind.
As for "Think big," note that the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary lists "big" as an adverb as well as an adjective.
Yet, in the sentence "Shop local," the word local cannot modify "you." The word "local" is only a noun or adjective, not an adverb. Hence, the proper term is "shop locally."
To paraphrase an old but famous newspaper story, I will end this letter with a "proposition": If Bouser would better study the craft of his work, then the readers of his work might be less suspicious of his craft.
Robert M. Levy
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