This piece was triggered by listening to Paula & Francois on RJR this morning (March 18, 2019). The two issues that caught my ears when I joined a bit late were 1) when to use who vs. whom and 2) ‘this is he’ vs. ‘this is him’.
The 2ndissue is one that I spend some time on with my Greek students as it relates to the Greek text of John 1:1. Paula got it right. Though the conventional/popular one is ‘this is him’, this is technically incorrect, grammatically. Why? The verb ‘to be’ in Greek as well as in English (indeed in all languages I have studied or been exposed to) is irregular and demands a subject form before and after it.
So, if someone calls my phone and asks “May I speak with Clinton please?” The only grammatically correct answer is “This is he.” The subject form is the form with which you could begin a sentence in standard Jamaican or British English. So, both ‘this’ and ‘he’ could start a sentence and control a verb but not ‘him’.
It should help too to point out that in comparison/contrast statements involving the self, such as “Samuel is brighter than (I, me)”. Since the sentence is not fully complete as is but needs a part of the verb ‘to be’ [though only implied] for completeness the subject form rule applies. So, the correct statement is “Samuel is brighter than I [am]”.
My wife and I were walking on the campus of Nova Southeastern a few years back when I saw the unusual but grammatically correct wording on a gazebo “You are you and I am I.” With contained excitement I called her attention to it. I did this because if I told our children what I saw, our son Samuel would very likely ask me who else could verify my story.
The who/whomissue depends on if the word needed is the only subject that could be linked to the main verb. If the word needed cannot qualify here then choose ‘whom’. Also, if the needed word is preceded by any preposition (by, to, in, with, from, through, around, etc.) then you choose ‘whom’. Persons familiar with the Bible could use the Isaiah 6 text as a good example of the rule here “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?”
Pronouncing words with ‘cc’ is problematic for some speakers. Take your cue from the never butchered double ‘c’ word ‘success’ with a certain exception. So ‘succinct’ is not pronounced as sussinct’ but as ‘sucksinct’, same with accessory not ‘assessory’ but ‘acksessory’ and likewise with the hardly used word for the proverbial tailbone ‘coccyx’, it is pronounced as ‘cocksix’ not ‘cossix’. Moving on rapidly now.
The rule does not apply to words like ‘succour’ or ‘succumbed’ and double ‘c’ words that have a vowel other than ‘e’ or ‘I’ right after the cees. It does not apply as well to foreign language words used in English like the Italian musical term staccato, meaning ‘short, detached’.
There is still much care needed from many speakers concerning verb/noun agreement with plural words such as ‘data’ (singular, ‘datum’) ‘criteria’ (singular, ‘criterion’) and ‘media’ (singular, ‘medium’). A plurality of persons who channel spirits though, is mediums, not media!
Even if, like me (re sermons/Bible studies) you do your speeches in mixed language (Jamaican and standard English) when you are in standard English mode you must know how to pronounce correctly.
Rev. Clinton Chisholm, Academic Dean, Caribbean Graduate School of Theology