Why case is important

rogersgeorge on March 6th, 2016

Here’s a comic I read regularly (link to the original: http://maximumble.thebookofbiff.com/2013/08/13/681-play/). However, the comment underneath is what I’m interested in.

Here’s the comment:

When my first child was a baby we would get him educational toys. This one will be good for dexterity. This one will help learn counting. This one sings the alphabet. Now he’s getting interested in things I liked as a kid. He has a few Transformers that I think I have played with more than him.

Look at the last word, him. It’s in what we call the objective case. That means it has to go with the preposition with. Spelling the whole thing out, the sentence means “…I played with more than I played with him.” Maybe that’s what the commenter meant, but I suspect he meant that he played with the toy more than his son did; in other words “…more than he.” Or slightly better, “…more than he did.” You need the subjective case (other languages call it the nominative case) to be the subject of the verb played.

When you compare things with phrases such as more than, less than, and as much as, be sure you say what you’re really comparing.

Okay, I have to add a postscript. Look at the last sentence in the comic itself. it should be “You bought this for whom…”! harrumpf.

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Getting on your case

rogersgeorge on September 27th, 2012

I don’t know why I’m being so hard on comics lately. Usually comic artists are pretty careful about their use of language, and I have a lot of respect for them, what with having to not only draw, but also write, two very different skills, neurologically speaking. This one is from a comic I don’t read regularly. I saw a link to it on a website that I do read, and this was on the first page. I got locked onto the solecism and haven’t read anything else. It looks like it might be a nice adventure tale for those of you who like that sort of comic, PG rated, I suppose. The comic is called Valkyrie, by By Fernando Heinz Furukawa and I don’t know what the comic is about. Shame on me for generalizing after looking at only one page, but judging from the non-human sidekick and the cleavage,  it looks like it’s aimed at boys in their early teens. The link is to the page where I got this cell.

The speaker might be in character to make the goof, and the artist actually knows better, right? After all, with a Spanish/German/Japanese name, he ought to be really good at English, right?

You know what the mistake is, right? We have a nominative being used as a direct object. Nominative is the general term for what my English teacher called the subjective case, because it was used for the subject of sentences. In every other Indo-European language (far as I know) they call it the nominative.

Remember your English teacher saying that with the imperative, you have an implied subject, “you”?  So “Sit down” is really “(you) sit down.” Or in this case, (you) let Sandra and ME deal with your son’s abduction.”

I brought your attention to this example because this mistake most often happens with compound objects of prepositions (it was between him and I) and less often with a direct object. It often happens in the writing and speech of people who fancy themselves as edumacated. They picked it up from being corrected as children, when they started to say something like “Me and Tom went fishing” and the authority figure at hand said, ” ahem. Tom and I went fishing, and is that why you are so muddy?”

So how do you prevent this solecism? The culprit the compound construction. Say the sentence without the compound. Then the wrong way sounds wrong. So: “Let me deal with your son’s abduction.”

Now I think I’ll go see what happened to that son.