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Grammar gripes April 11, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in older son, writing.
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I really try not to hound people for their grammar or spelling.  It’s obvious, if you’ve spent any time reading this blog, that I’m prone to making errors, even when I do proofread an entry before posting.  Commas will show up for no good reason, I’ll swap your and you’re, and sometimes words will just plain go missing.  (Number of errors and misspellings is usually proportional to sleep deprivation.)

Every once in a while, however, one little thing will get under my skin.  This happened recently when I was talking with my kids and asked, “Does either of you need to get some food?”  The older boy responded not by answering the question but by correcting my grammar.

“Do either of you, you mean.”

“Nope.  Does.  Either is the subject, not you.  You is describing either as it’s in a prepositional phrase.  Therefore the verb needs to agree with either, which is third person, singular.”

He still didn’t agree, so we took the argument to google…where I found a page saying that either phrasing was correct.  Grammatically, it said that the proper form is “does either,” but common usage allows for both forms of do.

I realize that language is an evolving thing, but I think it’s one thing to say that something is correct versus socially acceptable.  It is socially acceptable to say, “Do either of you need something?” even if it is like nails on a chalkboard to some of us.  However, it is not grammatically correct.

Either way, I’m left feeling like I’m shaking a cane at my kids, yelling at them to get off my sentence diagrams.

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Comments»

1. Fluxor - April 12, 2013

As with all languages, once something is socially acceptable for long enough, it becomes correct. My wife likes to complain about the difference between “not fair” and “no fair”. I told her to give it up. She did persevere for a while with our own children, but realized her efforts are of no use.

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mareserinitatis - April 12, 2013

I prefer to go with “unfair” to avoid confusion.

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2. chromaticchopsticks - November 2, 2016

“Does either of you have a pencil?” sounds so unnatural to me. I think eventually the colloquial form will triumph, especially if that’s what kids learn at a young age. “Do either of you…” will then become grammatical since they are native speakers.

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