Good Old Like and As

rogersgeorge on December 16th, 2017

“Like” and “as” are easy to get mixed up. It doesn’t help a lot to say that “as” is an adverb and “like” is a preposition. Too complicated. You might find it easier to remember, perhaps, that “as” goes with verbs, and “like” goes with nouns and pronouns.

Here’s a guy who sounds right both times, uses two different constructions, and we understand him, but he’s wrong! Take a look at the second panel in the Dec 9, 2017 edition of Mr. Fitz:

“Think like I do” sounds right. That’s because you have the verb “do,” that goes with “I.” But technically, it should be “think as I do.” By the way, it’s a good idea to include that “do” in this sort of construction; doing so removes ambiguity.

Then he hauls off and says, “think like me.” And that also sounds correct! It sounds correct because “like” feels like a preposition with that “me” all by itself after it. Well, “like” is a preposition. But he’s modifying a verb (think) with an adjective phrase. That’s a no-no. Take the book title “Black Like Me.” The color, black, an adjective, goes with the pronoun “me.” That’s correct. If he had said “a thinker like me,” since “thinker” is a noun, he would be correct, at least grammatically.

Heavy-duty grammar lesson today. Sorry.

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Another Gödel Joke

rogersgeorge on December 14th, 2017

This post doesn’t have much to do with good writing, but I happen to like jokes that relate to Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. The gist of the theorem is that he proved mathematically that you can’t have a complete logical system, one that doesn’t have unanswerable questions and has no contradictions. This was much to […]

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It Sounds Wrong, but it’s Right

rogersgeorge on December 12th, 2017

Okay, the intransitive verb “lie-lay-lain” is one we often get wrong in the present tense. We say “I’m gonna go lay down,” when we mean “I’m gonna go lie down.” (note there’s no direct object.)  “Lie,” the correct word, sounds okay even when we often say “lay.” Ah, but the past tense of lie, which […]

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A Testimonial for Good English

rogersgeorge on December 10th, 2017

Look what Dilbert said to derogate this document: Full of typos! The rule: typographical errors matter. I wrote about this in the past more than once. Sigh. A couple days later Scott repeated the joke: And a subtle dig—the gal is their tech writer. She could see what the developer couldn’t. That’s why you need us […]

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The Second Most Common Mistake

rogersgeorge on December 8th, 2017

—in English! In English! I’m sure this is nowhere near the top of the list of mistakes humans make. This might not even be second on the English grammar list, but I think it comes right after the one where someone, trying deliberately to be high-class, says “between him and I.” This error is using […]

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