Re: Grammar in College?

Subject: Re: Grammar in College?
From: SANDRA CHARKER <scharker -at- OZEMAIL -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 15:13:53 +1100

Not so much about grammar as about usage...

I've noticed a few articles here recently that used 'one' as Kirsten Alexander
does in the following:

> One's writing improves over time and the brief span of high school
> is not enough time to develop into a finished writer.

Is this a trend in US usage? And if so, when is 'one' used?

a) I've thought for a long time that English could use 'one' to resolve the
s/h/it dilemma. But in this example, and in others that I've noticed but can't
quote right now, the "One" seems to be a formal replacement for something you
(I mean one) might call 'inclusive you'.

"One's writing improves over time..."
"Your writing improves over time..."
"Our writing improves over time..."

I can't see any difference in sense. Is there a difference in tone? What is it?

b) What is US English doing about s/h/it -- and let's leave the sewage jokes
with that other topic. In spoken Australian English, there's quite a strong
trend to using they as a singular. For example:

"As time passes, a writer realises that their high school work was not as good
as they thought at the time."

That's a bad example because the sentence reads more naturally with plural
writers; I'll find some better ones if anybody's interested. The usage is still
uncommon in writing, probably because it grates on the grammatically aware. I
myself recognise its utility, its common sense, and the parallel with 'you',
but I'll write a long, long way round to avoid it.


Sandra Charker


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