A time-honored practice in writing is…let’s call it “borrowing.” You see someone else’s clever turn of phrase, a few words that perfectly describe what you’re trying to convey, a zinger pun, and you decide to use it in your own writing. Maybe you change the words around to fit your situation, or maybe you don’t, but it’s just harmless borrowing, right?
The Language Ninja is hoping you are having a splendid middle-of-February, and that your Valentine’s Day was a wonderful celebration of affection between you and the one you love most. For the Ninja, it was a day largely spent weeping. Let’s get started!
Q: When is it appropriate to use “I,” “me,” or “myself” in a sentence?
A: If you are an elected official giving a press conference or a director of marketing giving a presentation, it is mandatory that you use “myself” in any instance you might possibly be tempted to use “me” or “I.” No, it isn’t “correct;” it just makes you sound important.
I’ve always had a thing for Valentine’s Day that I can’t explain. Maybe it’s the incongruous combination of red and pink. Or maybe it’s the stupid puns on hokey valentines and cheap, terrible candy. Could be the hearts, because I really do love hearts. Beyond all those solidly rational reasons, though, my absolute favorite thing about this holiday is that it’s an entire day built around celebrating something that, in the day-to-day, is all too often taken for granted: your special someone.
Remember the neutral male pronoun? In case that sounds like jargon to you, let me provide an example:
If a student hopes to earn an A on his final report, he should not only study all the previous course material, but also bring his teacher gifts and perform various other tasks that serve to boost his favoritism ratings.
While this is clearly objectively excellent advice, notice the consistently male pronouns. Am I writing to a class of only male students? Am I assuming that only the male students are required to perform brown-nosing acrobatics while the female students are naturally gifted enough to earn A’s on their own? Do only the male students care about their grades? This is so confusing!