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Michael Jacobs

'Mind Your Language' by Michael Jacobs

June 2001, no. 231 01 June 2001
Purists and lawyers, sit down. You may need smelling salts or whisky, according to taste. Ready? All right. I predict that your children, or perhaps your children’s children, will read in grammar textbooks that they is the third-person singular pronoun when referring to a person, as well as being the third-person plural pronoun. It will be confined to an animal or a thing. Appalled? I admit to ... (read more)

'Mind Your Language' by Michael Jacobs

April 2001, no. 229 01 April 2001
It isn’t difficult to establish conversational tone in writing. And since a column about language and usage ought to be a conversation, we’ll go for that tone. Let’s start with a workout for a current, overused device. There’ve been three of them before this sentence: four now. You’ll find them if you look (Five.) Yes, we’re looking at the conversational contraction, and it’s time to ... (read more)