Tag Archive - prepositions

Pass the Collocations

Collocations. Isn’t that a neat word? It refers to regular pairings of words, and boy, there are many I use incorrectly and have to look up. Problem is, we get so lazy and weird in our speech that we’ve accepted many pairings that are just plain wrong, so I’m going to give you a list of the correct pairings for certain phrases we regularly use. There are myriad, but I’m going to pick the ones I like:

  • Abide with: I abide with my husband.
  • Absolve by: I was absolved by the judge.
  • Absolve from: And he absolved me from the penalties.
  • Accord with: I’m in accord with the new policies at work.
  • Account to: You will have to account to the principal for what you did.
  • Account for: He must account for his actions.
  • Advise of: She advised me of the rules.
  • Advise about: You need to advise me about the issue soon. (And be careful not to mix up advise and advice, which many do!)
  • Agreeable to: He’s agreeable to my plan.
  • Agreeable with: Your idea is agreeable with mine.
  • Answer to: You must answer to your parents.
  • Answer for: I have to answer for my crimes.
  • Averse to: He is averse to seeing scary movies.

As you probably noticed, I only covered the letter A—which should give you a clue about next week’s post . . .

More Like Me or I?

Do you look more like me . . . or do you look more like I? The case of a pronoun following this kind of comparative structure, typically at the end of a sentence, depends on who or what is being compared.

If you write “My sister looks more like our father than I,” for example, one would assume that the “I” implies “I do.” But you wouldn’t fault someone for thinking you mean your sister looks more like your father than like you. This is often a source of confusion, so it’s best to reword for clarity. If the point is whether the sister looks more like the father, the pronoun should be objective (me, not I): my sister looks more like our father than she looks like me.

Instead of writing “My sister looks more like our father than me,” I might rewrite “My sister looks more like our father than like me.” That pretty much eliminates the problem. And if you add the word do to that first example, you won’t have any confusion either: “”My sister looks more like our father than I do.”

Between I or Me?

I see this a lot, and from what I’ve researched, objective case confuses some people. It does me too. A quickie grammar lesson. When you have a subject of a sentence, you’ll often find an object somewhere near or at the end. For instance, the sentence “He passed the food to me” has He as the subject and me as the object. In this sentence: “He passed the food between us,” the word us is in the objective (think object) case. We don’t say, “He passed the food between we.” We is in the subjective (subject) case. So if you put on your thinking cap, which is the correct sentence below?

  • Just between you and I, I think the guy’s nuts.
  • Just between you and me, I think the guy’s nuts.

If you said the second one is correct, you’re right. Between and all other prepositions are followed by the objective case, like:

  • He stood before you and me
  • The truth is within you and me
  • The sky is above you and him (not he)

So between you and me, this isn’t all that hard, is it?

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