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JEFF BROOMES: Writing and speaking well matter


JEFF BROOMES

JEFF BROOMES: Writing and speaking well matter

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AS I BEGIN this week’s article I am moved to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to those many people who either called or emailed me relative to last week’s. I also commit, as requested, to writing a similar column on mathematics.

I commend the Class Three student from St George who identified the claim by the commentator that “we have lost too much wickets” as wrong. As he said, “wickets” is countable and should carry the antecedent “many.” Hence, “we have lost too many wickets”.

I am not sure if this young student also heard the commentator make the point that this year’s version of the ICC T20 was the best ever played between the many cricket-playing countries. I am sure that he would have been just as alert to the bad speech of that adult.

When making such connections, the word “between” can only be used in relation to two entities. The word “among” must be used for three or more. Hence, between this and that country, but it must be, “the best ever played among the cricket-playing countries”.

It got worse when the commentator said that there was never a “more better” run-chaser than Kohli. This batsman’s record speaks for itself, but correct expression should also be allowed to speak with loud clarity. Joining “more” and  “-er” is never right.

There are three comparisons of adjectives and adverbs, the positive, the comparative and the superlative. We may have a happy friend (the positive), but we may have one friend happier than another (the comparative or the comparison between two) and the happiest of three or more friends (the superlative).

Words of three or more syllables usually carry “more” and “most” to make their comparatives and superlatives. “She is more beautiful than her sister”, or “Susan is the most beautiful of the group.” These words “more” and “most” must always go in place of and never with -er or -est.   

How often do we hear the radio or television announcer inform the country that “there are a large amount of cars in The City today?” My throat gets very dry and I rush for a glass of water on these occasions. 

The word amount and its sister words, “much” and “less” always accompany non-countable words. Hence, “amount of water or traffic”. The words number, many and fewer are the accompanying friends of countable nouns. So, “number of cars or many bags and fewer days”.

I cringed when the commentator said: “None of the countries were able to match Jamaica in the relays.” The facts were true but the expression bad. “None” is an indefinite subject that means not one or no amount both of which are singular.  Hence, “none of the countries was . . .”.

Twice a year, at Crop Over and at Christmas I see the bright golden sun of our lovely land replaced with a deep green hue, the type that engulfs our airwaves and sensitive ears. I know you have heard: “I lives in Brooklyn now”. How about: “I works in Bridgetown.” Even in times of drought, all our vegetation instantly presents a blinding greenness in response.

There is only once in grammar that the suffix’s’ can be attached to the end of a verb, and that is if the verb comes after a singular noun or the subject pronouns “he, she or it”. You can never say: “I lives or I loves or I works or any verb that has the suffix’s’ attached”. It must always be: “I live or I love or I work”.

Remember, writing and speaking well really do matter!

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as vice-president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]

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