Words of Wisdom:

"Be who you are not who you want to be" - Diane

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  • Date Submitted: 01/14/2011 05:57 AM
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CONCORD, also agreement. In GRAMMAR, the relationship between units in such matters as number, person, and gender: ‘They did the work themselves’ (number and person concord between they and themselves); ‘He did the work himself’ (number, person, and gender concord between he and him). Lack of standard concord occurs in sentences like The books is on the table and I says do it but he don't do it. Although ungrammatical in the standard language, such usage is consistent with the requirements of concord within some non-standard varieties.
Number and person concord
In standard English, number concord is most apparent between a singular or PLURAL subject and its verb in the third person of the simple present tense: That book seems interesting (singular: book agreeing with seems) and Those books seem interesting (plural: books agreeing with seem). The verb be involves concord for the first person singular (I am, etc.) and uniquely among English verbs has different forms for singular and plural in the past (was, were). Number concord, requiring that two related units should both be singular or both be plural, can involve complements and objects: That animal is an elk, Those animals are elks, I consider him a spoilsport, I consider them spoilsports. Both number and person concord are involved in the use of pronouns and possessives, as in ‘I hurt myself’ and ‘My friends said they were coming in their car’.
Singular THEY
Controversy surrounds the use of they as a third-person singular pronoun, in defiance of number concord. It is common after indefinite pronouns: If someone puts themselves forward in showbiz, they should be prepared for exposure if they err (Observer, 18 Dec. 1988). The practice is popular as a way of avoiding the alleged sexism of the traditional use of masculine pronouns and the awkwardness that often attends he or she phrases. It has a long history: ‘Here nobody hangs or drowns themselves’ ( Horace Walpole, 18c). It can occur where a masculine or...

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