Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grammar

I happen to know that I have at least 2 grammar-experts who read this blog. So here's the question: Is it proper to say "On your mark, get set, go!" OR "On your markS, get set, go!"

Usually I can use logic to figure out what's right, but this makes sense both ways to me. YOU only have one "mark" to get on - so the first makes sense. But, then again, you're talking to multiple people here and they EACH have a mark. Which means there are multiple markS to be had.

I know, random. But a Google search would be fruitless since you never know if the person writing it is a good grammar-a-tition or not (how's that for a made up word!).

Naomi says "On your marks, get set, go". And I was about to correct her when I got stuck in this mental conundrum. Help me out.

22 comments:

erica said...

In foreign languages, 'you' can indicate 1 or more persons. This means that when you say, " on your mark..." you can be speaking to one or more persons. I think the same rule applies in English, even though we don't have the word distinction for 'you' as a singular or plural word.
I think it should be on your mark...

angela michelle said...

how many people are running? erica's right that we would say "your" either way.
if more than one, then you command THEM to get on their markS.

angela michelle said...

i think it's referring to runners in a race, each of whom has their own mark to start from.

Mark A said...

Is that your final answer?
Being completely confident that I am not one of the two experts referenced in the post, let me none the less add my two bits. In far flung places such as England where they invented this silly language that we persist in propagating, they say "runners to your marks". What possible difference could it make though? When using the term, is there any chance of confusion ether way? "wait, wait hold the race I only have the one mark"
Now if you want to talk about one that does matter, how about the use of "Irregardless"? What is that? What do users even mean by it? Some of the most "educated" people I know use this with such authority that it leaves me wondering if with my inferior education, am I not party to some exclusive elitist lexicon?

kashurst said...

Well now, that depends. Are me and Angela racing? Or is it me racing against, say, you, or Ruth, or Jessica? Because then it would make a difference. So some people who may be racing don't even HAVE a Mark and have to go find one! I'm glad that I have only just the one Mark. So...I say it is definitely "on your Mark!" Unless, of course this is some very strange race where you would be on both Marks at once...

Ruth said...

I agree with Ang- if there's more than one person racing there's more than one mark.
Mark- I agree. What is the point of "irregardless?" Why not just say "regardless?"
Kelly and Mark- Your comments make me miss you and I wish I could see you soon!

Ruth said...

P.S. Why can't writing papers be as much fun as this grammar discussion? I have to go back to writing my boring paper now.

Clyde said...

Nancy, your family is just silly... And your Dad (my girls called him Uncle Earl) not even join the discussion yet.

angela michelle said...

Kelly, you're hilarious. So are you saying that when they say "on your Marks" one of our Marks is going to CARRY us?

I'm with Mark on the total stupidity of "irregardless." I think people say it because it sounds like a big, long, smart word.

Other pet peeves of meaningless language: "I could care less" (when you really mean is "I couldn't care less) and ... oh, now I forgot my other one.

And then there's the hugely overused "literally," as in "I was literally on Cloud 9." Really? There's an actual, literal Cloud 9 and you were standing upon it?

erica said...

nancy, who knew a grammar question could be so much fun.

Mark A said...

I heard a guy on NPR say "They literally killed the goose that laid the golden egg".

Nancy Sabina said...

WHAT!?! If they HAD a goose who laid golden eggs, why one Earth would they kill it? I am literally dying to know!

This is one of my greatest posts ever thanks to all your fabulous comments. Keep it comin' people!

Nancy Clark said...

Maybe just stick with "Ready, set, go" ...or is it, "Get Ready; Get Set; Go" ...???

Ruth said...

Okay, here's one. Is Proselytizing a word? One of my professors used it today and I've never been sure. Its always sounded made up to me.

Mark A said...

Looks legit to me...
http://www.onelook.com/?w=Proselytizing+&ls=a
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=63557&dict=CALD

angela michelle said...

Ruth, I don't know about proselytizing, but I do know that the official LDS Style Guide sidesteps the issues of "Book of Mormons" vs "Books of Mormon" by suggesting use of "copies of the Book of Mormon"

Grandpa Earl said...

IMHO, each runner has a mark. In long footraces there is actually one long mark extending across the track, but as each runner has a distinct starting lane, he also has a distinct section of the mark. During the race the runners are free to take any path down the track, so the lanes are only for the start. On short races, the marks are staggered to compensate for the circular portion of the track (the outside lane has farther to go round the circular track than the inside lane)so then each runner has a starting mark absolutely distinct from the other runners' and they must stay in their lane the entire race. Therefor, it is correct to say "On your mark", whether there are few or many runners, as you are addressing each runner to present themselves at their appointed mark.

Nancy, did you miss out on "The Goose that Laid the golden Egg"? The story is that they killed the goose to get all the eggs out at once, but, of course, found none and no more goose.

I'm with Angela on "I could care less". I am unmoved as to Irregardless, although it might be a wee bit pretentious.

Ruthie said...

One of my favorite blogs for a good laugh is The "Blog" of "Unecessary" Quotation Marks. http://www.unnecessaryquotes.com

Grandpa Earl said...

I should start one for unnecessary commas. I am very fond of commas and use them promiscuously. Whenever I go back over something I've written I find myself deleting commas by the gross.

Brooke said...

literally used improperly is one of mine as well.

along with the classics "atm machine" and "pin number"

and i am hesitant to say "gps system" because i'm not sure what the "S" stands for.

Nancy Sabina said...

I have seriously enjoyed all of thes wonderful comments. But, I must say, I am not convinced of the correctness of either way of saying it. Maybe they're both right. I guess I won't be correcting Naomi on her way of saying it any time soon.

But thanks for the laughs people. Loads of fun! This conversation made me seriously long for an Ashurst reunion.

Jessica said...

Brooke- I'm pretty sure GPS stands for Global Positioning System.. so.. "whenever" you talk about a GPS, don't say system behind it. It must be a Texas thing, but literally all the people in our ward say things like: "whenever I went swimming...." instead of "when I went swimming...". Problem: my kids think whenever is the correct word to use. As regards to On your mark. I think since it's a phrase/saying, it should be 'on your mark' not marks, as you're usually not literally telling them to get on their marks