Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Just now heard a common error: "A computer and a desire to succeed is all you need." Plural subject, right? Then, ". . . are all you need." Yes, there are times that the parts of a compound subject are so closely joined--"Bacon and eggs is my favorite breakfast"--that the singular is appropriate. However, if in doubt, use the plural! (Just for the record, I don't like eggs in any manner or form!)
It seems that Nissan automobiles have somewhat of a catch phrase, "Look closer." "Look" is a verb and should be modified by an adverb. Thus we may say, "Look closely," or, relative to the mentioned situation, "Look more closely." Now if Nissan thinks such style is pedantic for the average viewer, so be it. It is my purpose, though, to spread the word concerning such mistakes so you won't be learning or relearning improperly. I do believe that the media should set good examples. If folks are alerted, though, they can avoid falling into traps when the media falls short. Many years ago there was some controversy about the cigarette ad, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." "Like" should not be introducing an adverbial clause; ". . . as a cigarette should" would be correct. While some joked about the flaw, Winston laughed all the way to the bank as, if memory serves me properly, the number one selling cigarette for quite a few years.
An associate of mine once retorted concerning a grammatical point, "English is a young language." Yes, it may be young and changing; but to me carelessness should not be one of the results. Rarely now do we find the word "healthful." It's healthy food, healthy lifestyle, etc. No! To be healthy, something must be alive. Now the lobster in the tank at the store may be healthy at that time; but when I'm about to eat it, I trust it will not be alive and, hence, not healthy. How healthful it will be I'll leave to the nutritionists. Further, "eat healthy" is wrong on two counts: see the above discussion plus the fact that an adverb is needed. Hence, we should say, "eat healthfully."