Sunday, May 28, 2017

Whoever or Whomever?


Fran from Suttons Bay was watching reruns of Criminal Minds when she heard the following dialogue:  “The killer wants to inflict fear not only in the victim, but in whomever finds the body.”  She wonders if that should have been whoever.

The preposition in certainly does need an object, but an object isn’t always a single word; it can be a phrase or even an entire clause, which is the case here.

When trying to determine whether the pronoun in this sentence should be whoever or whomever, you have to determine exactly what it is doing -- what its function is. Whoever is the subject form; whomever is the object form.

A verb always needs a subject, whether overt or implied. The verb finds in this sentence needs a subject, and in this case that duty falls to the subject form of the pronoun, whoever. That means that whoever is automatically locked in and can't be used for two separate functions. The object of the preposition in is the entire clause: “in whoever finds the body.”


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





Saturday, May 20, 2017

Embarrass


Van from Petoskey was curious about the word embarrass. It seems to have come into English from the French, but it has cousins in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. It now means to make a person or institution feel awkward or self-conscious, but that meaning evolved over time.

Originally, it meant to impede progress by putting up a barrier of some kind. The Portuguese equivalent, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, referred to restraining animals with a leash or cord. In 18th century England, a road would be embarrassed if it was blocked by fallen trees or an avalanche of rocks.

Being blocked, literally or metaphorically, would lead to confusion and uncertainty. It would stymie and perplex a person, and the inability to act would make him or her feel helpless, leading to a feeling of inadequacy.

These feelings often trigger the fight-or-flight response. The subsequent release of chemicals often causes an embarrassed person to blush as blood flow increases to the blood vesels in the cheeks.

The suggestion that embarrassment must involve exposed buttocks is not seated in reality.


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.




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