Letters & Opinion

A Teachable Moment

I really must protest! My favourite newspaper let me down rather badly last Saturday and brought me untold grief when it decided that it would ‘correct’ that which needed absolutely no correction in my piece entitled: This One’s for You and You and You.

Given my well-known pedantry regarding such grammatical structures, I trust you will appreciate how I must feel every time I see that the correct word ‘sung’ was replaced by the incorrect word ‘sang’ (line 2, para. 3).

This is one of the most common infringements of past participle usage, and to have had it imposed on someone who has spent her life teaching that very thing (among others), and insisting upon its correct usage in classrooms across the globe, not to talk of Saint Lucia, is a hard pill to swallow!

It is the past perfect tense which is needed, not the simple past. I shall therefore use this opportunity positively, as a teachable moment.

Extract from text: ‘’…I asked if she’d (she had) +(past participle)’’watched’’ the parade on TV and ‘’sung’’ (had sung) the National Anthem; ‘’had’’ is understood, before ‘’sung’’, having been used earlier in the sentence, and one must therefore be consistent and obey the same rule, ensuring that the first verb in the compound sentence is again followed by the past participle form of the second verb, hence the word ‘’sung’’ not ‘’sang’’. Here are some other past participle verbs to which there appears to be a national aversion: sung, rung, shown, drunk, swum, driven, swung, wrung, stung stunk, sprung, spun, sped, shrunk, run, begun. Instead, the simple past tense verb form is incorrectly employed with the verb ‘to have’ and the verb ‘to be’.

Now, there do happen to be a few folks who, like me, are totally turned off by this kind of abusage. I trust you will understand why I can’t let the altered ‘sang’ go by without mention, without correction.

I rather suspect the foregoing is probably as clear as mud to those who do not care one jot about such things, but I do – and I would like to believe that you and your proofreaders do as well.

Finally, here’s hoping The Voice will be sufficiently unruffled and self-assured to carry this letter in its Weekend issue so that interested readers may be both delighted and enlightened.

–Nahdjla Bailey

1 Comment

  1. Queen LEAR’S leery Much A Do About Nothing
    Madam you make a purr-fect companion for Peter Josie.
    Your names indicate some lineage with the respected Ghandi inspired Asian Subcontinent.
    In that case Peter Josie already adores you since he is chronically ALLERGIC to Afrocentric females
    He also adores anal word smiths like Ricky Wayne- and you seem to fit that category.
    I hope you enjoy a cocktail or two as he is a master mentor to bar tenders, island wide.
    Cupid, let fly 🙂

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