Right or Wrong?

Like all professionals, officers want to speak and write well. I hope you go over your reports several times to make sure everything is grammatical and correct.

Here’s a problem, though: Sometimes right sounds wrong. Today we’re going to look at three usage points that might sound wrong to people who don’t have a solid background in English usage.

1.  That uniform looks good on you.   CORRECT

The man (or woman) on the street might mistakenly say “looks well.” Nope! “Looks good” is correct. Technically speaking, looks is a copulative verb that requires an adjective. No need to dig into all that grammar, though: just remember that “looks good” is correct.

2.  Major Hanley asked Carol and me to lead the meeting.  CORRECT

Many people, thinking that “I” is more elegant than “me,” incorrectly say “Carol and I” in this sentence. Wrong again. Here’s how you figure this one out:

Major Hanley asked me to lead the meeting.

Major Hanley asked Carol and me to lead the meeting.

For comparison, here’s are sentences in which I is correct:

Yesterday I led the meeting.

Yesterday Carol and I led the meeting.

To learn more, click here and read about Pronoun Rule 3. You can also watch a short video here.

(By the way, you also need to avoid the hideous “to he” construction beloved of sports announcers: Ovechkin passed the puck to he. NO! It’s to him.)

3.  Fifteen minutes is usually enough time to get across town.  CORRECT

You’ll often hear “fifteen minutes are” – a common error. Fifteen minutes is a unit, not fifteen separate things: Use is, not are. On the other hand, you would say “Fifteen laptops are on order” because laptops are separate things. To learn more, click here and read about Rule 2.

sticky notes asking if it's right or wrong



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *