18 May, 2015

Grammar Wars

On our way back from holiday last weekend, we stopped off for a walk at Stourhead - one of the most famous gardens in the UK. Next to the new hand-driers in the toilets was a sign explaining their use, and on that sign was a grammar war. Here it is...

If you can't see that image, let me explain. The phrase 'dries your hands quicker', has been changed to 'dries your hands more quickly' by somebody. Somebody else, however, has added a note to say that 'quicker is OK'.

This is a grammar rule I get confused about a lot. Which words you can modify by adding an -er, and which you have to modify with a 'more' I get wrong a lot in conversation. Is there a definite rule, or is it a matter of just knowing which -er words exist? 

The day after we got back, we were in church and I spent an un-Christian amount of time pondering the grammatical correctness of the words to one of the hymns we were singing. Perhaps you can help me with this one too. The words we sing are:

Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?

My instinct was that the last sentence should be, Is it me, Lord? But am I right? My logic is that I wouldn't answer the question, 'Whom shall I send?" with the words, "Send I." I would answer "Send me." (Or "Don't send me", of course!) So the correct word in the full lyrics should be me and not I. What do you think?

And for reading to the end of a short but pedantic post, you shall be rewarded with another photo of Stourhead - one that is perhaps more indicative of the overall atmosphere!


  1. I agree with the second comment - quicker is ok. But like you I'm not sure about the technicalities of it - there's probably some rule involving gerunds and past participles twice removed that makes it wrong.

    The second one is trickier because it seems an odd thing to say anyway. It seems to be a way of saying 'Will you choose me?' but an odd way of phrasing it and I agree that 'Is it me?' seems more sensible.

    And I went to Stourhead just a couple of weeks ago - a lovely place!

    1. We loved Stourhead!

      It is a bit odd. It's from the book of Isaiah, but I think Isaiah just says, "Here I am. Send me." I think the hymnist might have tried a bit too hard!

  2. I love the word 'hymnist'! I also wonder if the word 'do' is redundant in the third sentence?

    1. Ah yes, good spot! Using extra words is a bit of a fashion now. I watch a lot of athletics and it drives me mad that the commentators never say "He's 20 years' old", they always ALWAYS say "He's 20 years of age"!

  3. Of course if you still lived in Bristol, 'Send I' would be perfect grammal.

    1. I saw this comment in my reader and thought, I bet I know who wrote that! It would indeed. Maybe the hymnist was just Bristolian?


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