Thursday, November 20, 2014


The Church received the following grammar related question from a correspondent:

I have a question that would not bother many people, but it is this: “Those” and “These.” It seems that in the past, people would say something like “I will take three of those.” Now it is “I will take three of those ones.” These ones, those ones, would anyone but I wonder?

The Church would opine that “these ones” and “those ones” are symptoms of an individual suffering from LGS – Lazy Grammar Syndrome.  Adding “ones” to these or those seems like a redundancy.  Further, unless one is talking about place value in the realm of mathematics – “what number is in the ones column?” or is playing the card game “Go Fish,” there is no use for the word “ones.”  [Outside of a card game, “Hmmm… Looks like Wild Bill Hickok drew some Aces and some Eights,” I’m not sure when you’d put an “s” after a word representing a numeral.  Someone correct me please.]

“These” and “those” imply a gesture or the requirement of an additional clue in the context of the text or conversation.  “I’d like these apples (perhaps closer in physical proximity to the speaker) and those oranges (perhaps across the aisle)” might serve as an example.  Wouldn’t it be clearer to express, “I’ll take these apples and those three oranges.”?

There are many examples of LGS in modern speech.  Reversal of I (the personal pronoun) and me (the object of a preposition) bugs the Church no little bit.  This one grates: “Charley is walking to the store with Max and I.”  The same goes for “we” and “us.”  Other gripes?  Fragments masquerading as sentences.  And sentences beginning in “and.”

LGS should not be confused with LDS (Lazy Diction Syndrome) a spoken language issue – not LDS, the religious affiliation – wherein people mispronounce words.  Walter Cronkite was death on this practice and used the second month as his prime example: “It’s Feb-RU-ary, not Feb-EWE-ary.”  How may of us get that one wrong?  Although the late Norm Crosby made a career out of “misrenouncing” words, the rest of us would sound much more intelligent were we to avoid such malapropisms. 

What the Church finds most irritating however is LFS – please employ context clues to figure this one out – which involves the overuse of a certain profanity.  Most everyone knows that the “f-word” can be used in all seven parts of speech, but, sadly, some folks set out to prove that within about every three minutes of conversation.  Folks suffering from LFS, because it is such a preventable condition, routinely dishearten the Church.

People will argue that if the communication takes place, then the proper use of grammar is not important.  I would disagree even to the extent of suggesting that these ones (oops!) suffer from a little bit different but equally virulent strain of LFS.

Years ago, an aging (and pretty cranky) junior high English teacher complained to me, her site administrator, that the practice of decent English is lost upon our young people.  I told her I would address this within the hour.  She returned to class and I set to creating a poster with Tempera paints.  Allowing only a few minutes for it to dry, I entered her room with an eight-foot ladder, a staple gun and the fresh poster.  Amid her lecture, I set of the ladder in the front of her room climbed it high, and stapled the poster where she could not bring it down. 

The text of the poster? 

“If it sounds right, it ARE right.”

I’m not sure if that solved her problem.  I didn’t get to work there much longer.

© 2014
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. One of my pet peeves (like fingernails on a chalk board) is the use of NEW-cue-ler instead of NEW-klee-er. Look in the dictionary. There is no such word a NEW-cue-ler. The word is an adjective relating to the core or NEW-klee-us of something. The worst bit is that President Jimmy Carter served as an officer on a NEW-klee-er Submarine and can't say the word correctly.

    1. Must be a Southern thing. "W" (43) had the same problem with the word...