Three-Year-Old Grammar Shark

My three-year-old son just corrected my grammar. He was right. I, the English major and former high-school English teacher, was wrong.

Grady: Daddy, somebody at school kicked my foot today.
Me: It’s ok, Grady. I’m sure they didn’t mean it.
Grady: No Daddy, it’s just one person.

He was referring, of course, to my usage of “they” as a pronoun to replace “somebody.” My pronoun was plural, and his antecedent was singular. Pronoun/antecedent agreement. Oldest mistake in the proverbial grammar book, and I was guilty as sin.

I realize that some people use “they” to refer to an antecedent for which the gender is unkown (as I did). Nevertheless, despite common usage, it’s still grammatically incorrect. Things I *could* have said?

  • It’s ok, Grady. I’m sure she or he didn’t mean it.
  • It’s ok, Grady. I’m sure your friend didn’t mean it.
  • It’s ok, Grady. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional.

Anyhow, as with much of parenting, I wasn’t quite sure whether to be embarrassed, indignant, or proud. I’m posting it on my blog, so I must be proud. Now when he’s 15 and does it on a regular basis…then it won’t be quite so cute.


Comments

Three-Year-Old Grammar Shark — 1 Comment

  1. The big problem is that the English language doesn’t have a singular word for a person when we aren’t aware of their gender. It’s not our fault. What, did “they” run out of words?

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