Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Everybody Think I Goofed

The bad news: There’s a typo in paragraph three of my article. The good news: There is none in the seventh. It just looks like there is.

When I first read the phrase “everyone come here,” I thought that was a mistake. Turns out it’s not, at least not in Australia, which is where the new Curve editorial regime is from. Australians, like the English, treat collective nouns as plurals. So it’s correct to say, “Everyone come,” because Australians think of “everyone” as a group of individuals, and use the same verb form they would use in the sentence, “One hundred thousand people come every year.”

Americans, on the other hand, think of “everyone” as a monolithic group, so the word gets a singular verb, the same form used in the sentence, “One person comes every day.”

Yes, you can certainly make the argument that I am an American writer writing for a primarily American audience, and so Australian words should not be put in my mouth. But what’s done is (are?) done. And I have to admit, the Australian way of thinking does kind of make sense. Isn’t “everybody,” by definition, more than one person?

This is my story, and I’m sticking to it, because I would rather you know that I’m a grammar dork than suspect that I don’t know how to conjugate.

1 comment:

Don Clausing said...

I've always thought it was pretty ironic that in English we only have one person whose conjugation varies from all the rest, and the Brits and there lingua groupies want to reduce that further. Then again, the sentence, "Everyone has their own favorite irony," is proper English for most Americans.