Monday, March 31, 2008

Grammar Monday: Look! Over There!

Today I'll focus on two issues, mostly because it's my blog and I make the rules, but also because my dear friend Jenni is always coming up with interesting little questions for me, and I want to answer one before she racks up a dozen that I haven't answered yet. Before I move on to regularly scheduled grammar programming, I'll conquer her question about which preposition to use with the word procrastinating.

You don't need to use a preposition with the word procrastinating. That is my official answer, and I have yet to find a contradiction to that in any of my favorite grammar guides. Instead, just leave it as it is. I am procrastinating ironing my trousers. I am procrastinating taking out the garbage. I am procrastinating going to the gym so that I can bring Grammar Monday to the people of the internet. The logic behind this is that to procrastinate means "to put off," which already includes a preposition, so to add one after the word procrastinate would be redundant. For example, one might try to say, "I am procrastinating on doing the dishes," but if you inserted the meaning instead, it would read, "I am putting off on doing the dishes," which simply makes no sense at all. The additional preposition is unnecessary. Even if you do not agree with my reasoning, you must admit that inserting the preposition is, at the very least, verbally awkward. It kind of sounds like you're talking with marbles in your mouth, which is a fine way to choke.

Item two today is a clarification of when to use the words there, their, and they're. This is quite simple if you just keep the definition of the words in mind. The definition of there is "in or at that place," so it refers to a point in space or time. There is the road. Put that enormous plate of cookies there, where I can reach it without moving. I would like to go there after we're done here.

The definition of their is "a form of the possessive case of they." In other words, it refers to something that belongs to them. It shows that they possess whatever object is being indicated. It is their dog. We will go to their house for dinner. I wish that scuba mask belonged to me, but it is theirs.

They're is a contraction formed by the words they are. If you would not say "they are" instead, you cannot use the word they're. They're going to the beach. If they're having a good time, they aren't showing it. Let's go where they're going to be.

Not too hard, yeah?


Jennifer said...

thank you for addressing the their/they're/there issue. That one really drives me when people miss it.

My problem with lacking a preposition, while I see your point, was that I fuond it grammatically awkward to have verbs back to back, ex. procrastinating doing. If you see no problem with this, then ok. I will tell myself it is ok. Maybe you could omit the 2nd verb and just say, procrasting the dishes? I don't like that either. *sigh*
Why can't I just be content. :P

Shiz said...

You are a grammar magician!