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8:00 PM
Meh. Neither of them seems to be biting.
@RegDwight: I see you horribly misspelled "copyywriter" when editing one of my ancient responses.
By popular request, no less.
It's a non-native speaker move. You hate to see it, but it happens.
That question was typed on my Droid X. I'm surprised there weren't more typos.
I am so tempted to migrate this to Writers, but it wouldn't be fair:
Q: Please check the language rules, spelling, and sentence structure; prove my essay

firdausI choose to study geology because I am interested to study about the earth. My father is the inspiration for me to choose this course. He encourages me to get involve in this area because he as geologist has gained valuable experience and know a lot of information about this jobs. At young age, I...

@MrHen — Another dinosaur question.
8:10 PM
@Robusto It is true. It seems that most of my petty frustrations today have stemmed from the same source.
Hens and dinosaurs don't mix.
@RegDwight Oooh, I especially adore the single tag: words.
@Martha Haha, didn't even notice...
Hens and dinosaurs are related, aren't they? (No offense, MrHen.)
@Martha I like to think we are the more evolved species
8:12 PM
Hens descended from dinosaurs.
@MrHen Ah, yes, I can go for that.
@Martha Well, so are dogs and dolphins. Now what?
Actually, @MrHen, your life partner is probably @MrsRooster, no?
@Robusto I prefer MrsCock
@Robusto You have a strange interest in this Texan's spouse.
8:14 PM
must... resist... urge... to... pun.....
Well, if he's here without his significant other I guess he's going off half-cocked.
O to the M to the G.
Now, was that called for?
Oh, and THWACK!
See? Now you give me a thwack because you know I'm not addicted anymore.
No, the difference is that you cracked this monstrosity in my presence. Of course I'm gonna thwack you then. What I won't do is be dragged out of a perfectly good nap just because you happened to utter something punny.
8:22 PM
@RegDwight: Did you just merge that guy's account? I didn't even know you could do that...
@MrHen Now you do.
@RegDwight Very awesome. I am still learning the power of the software. It seems pretty cool.
@MrHen On some sites, they actually do something even more awesome. They don't suspend spammers, they merge them all into a single account that is suspended for all eternity.
@RegDwight Haha, nice. I feel like turning that into a children's scare story: Be good or you get merged with the spam monster and suspended for all eternity!
Sounds like a movie. Don't let Michael Bay get wind of it.
Cheese 'n rice, what's going on here:
Q: What word(s) describe a woman's voice as "sexy"?

JenI am looking for a word (or two words) to describe a woman's voice that is "sexy" in a slightly deep, smooth, alluring way. The best I could come up with is mellifluous, but I'm looking for something simpler...

Four of the answers mention sultry, and three of them mention sultry and sultry only.
Have an upvote for yours, @Robusto.
8:39 PM
Yeah, Robusto's answer was posted first and is slightly better than the other answers that just suggest "sultry", but it has half the upvotes and isn't the accepted answer. It's a conspiracy, I tell you.
I flagged the newest "answer" to that question, btw.
@Martha Yeah, I like that one most, in a way. The misspelling is just the icing on the cake.
If it were accidental, the misspelling would be sort of funny. But I'm almost certain it was deliberate. In which case, it's just noise.
This is another question that just won't stop popping up:
Q: It is they who lied or It is them who lied?

nicholas ainsworthWhat is more correct: It is they who lied. or It is them who lied. ?

Q: All that will be left is us

mcheemaIn this sentence taken from the movie AI is 'us' the correct form of the pronoun? It certainly sounds better than if it were written with 'we' instead of 'us'. Also, I can sort of see why 'is' is used instead of 'are', and I think this is why 'us' is used rather than 'we', but would be intereste...

Q: Who wants ice-cream?

drewkWith the enthusiastic question of "Who wants ice-cream?" What is the more correct negative response? 1) "Not I" 2) "Not me" Neither response is a sentence. The first response of "not I" sounds stuffy, like it should be followed with an indignant sniff. The second sounds like American idiom ...

Q: "This is her" or "This is she"

Joe PhilllipsUpon answering the telephone, the person calling asks if Joan is available. If Joan is the person who answered the phone, should she say "This is her" or "This is she"?

Many people can't extend an answer about "I" vs. "me" (or "she" vs. "her") onto "they" vs. "them".
@RegDwight How is the site doing with regards to sarcasm vs. irony?
8:49 PM
In other news, I just approved an edit for the first time. Whee!
@MrHen You mean sarcasm as in answers or irony as in Alanis Morissette?
@RegDwight As in, "What is the difference between sarcasm and irony?"
@Martha Hm. Perhaps I'm missing something, but extending those other answers onto this question would render "they" incorrect.
So perhaps not a dupe after all?
@RegDwight That would be my conclusion.
Fair enough. But then I would like to hear some explanation as to why. (Yes, I've seen yours, but is it really that simple?)
8:55 PM
Dunno, I'm not the linguist in the family.
Hmm... everyone seems to be talking about my avatar lately.
(But I'll see if I can find something.)
@Kosmonaut Hey Kosmonaut, do shed some light on this.
@RegDwight Shed some light on why people are talking about my avatar?
@RegDwight - I wasn't sure how to take your "things happen" comment. Was that suggesting I shouldn't have made it?
8:56 PM
Augh, I am reading the answers to those questions and apparently I am doing this incorrectly...
@Dusty No, quite the contrary. In fact, I should have said "huge props, kudos and thanks" somewhere in ther.
The "things happen" part was directed at the OP, as in "I assume you didn't do this on purpose."
@MrHen What questions?
@Martha Me vs. I
@RegDwight ah, gotcha. I took it has "things happen, don't be a dick"
@Martha I know what I was taught but apparently it was wrong?
8:59 PM
@Dusty Ah yes. No. Sorry for the confusion.
@RegDwight - No worries. Thanks for moving on it so quickly =D
@MrHen Yes. If it's any consolation, you're not alone. Nohat has a very good explanation in one of those threads.
@Kosmonaut Shed some light on the "it's them/they who is lying" issue.
@Martha Yeah. That was the one that flipped what I knew upside down.
@MrHen Well, you don't label your pictures "I", do you?
9:01 PM
@RegDwight I think that is a bad example, actually
@MrHen How so? Do elaborate.
@RegDwight His example of "Who wants to come": I always say, "I want to come" so my response would be "I do"
"I do" gets shorted to "I"
"Who wants ice cream?" "I want ice cream" -> "I do"
-> "Not I"
It's me who wants ice cream. -> me. -> not I.
Sure, this is what I am just now learning
Logic != language.
9:03 PM
I was taught to put the answer into the original question and use whatever works
"Who bought ice cream?" "She bought ice cream." -> "She did"
"I bought ice cream" -> "I did"
"I did buy ice cream"
"Me bought ice cream" makes no sense
"Who is that?" "That is me" -> "Me"
Which is how I label photographs
Okay, so why is it "that is me", but not "it is them who lied"?
There is an obvious break there that I can now see
But I hadn't noticed it until now
"Who lied?" "They lied" -> "They did"
The phrase is not "they lied".
No, I am just explaining what I was taught as a kid
The phrase is "it is them who lied".
9:06 PM
Sure, but that is a different question
"Who is it that lied?"
But that is the question at hand.
"It is they who have lied."
It doesn't sound wrong to my ears
So, "this is me", but "it is they"?
"Who is it that lied" -> "It is me that has lied"
If it's me, then it's also them.
9:09 PM
Okay, sure
I can understand that
I would chalk that up to a they/them confusion from my childhood
(General note: I am not arguing that either is wrong or right. I'm an innocent bystander to this whole catastrophe. I just try to understand, myself.)
Fair enough
I haven't actually linked up they/them with the whole I/me he/him who/whom bit yet
That's why I keep asking @Kosmonaut for halp, but him ain't halping, like, at all.
Who lied to whom? -> I lied to me -> He lied to him -> They lied to them
It makes sense
The problem is the question:
"Who lied?"
"I lied"
"They lied"
"He lied"
@MrHen Yeah, the -m ending is a remnant of the dative case. (Which is still alive and doing well in German.)
9:12 PM
Which is how I get the answer to "Who wants ice cream?"
@RegDwight yeah, it is the only way I can keep everything together
okay, I figured out another piece
part of what is confusing me in "Who is it that lied" is that I want to put "Whom is it that has lied?"
But no one actually does that
Well, that would be ungrammatical.))
Whom is, again, dative.
How so?
Is that the only reason?
You need more?
Yeah, because I use it to figure out what else goes there
"[x] is it that has lied?" should match "It is [x] that has lied."
or, at least, that is what I was taught
Anyway, sorry for rambling
Sorry, I got dragged away
And I will have to go again
9:17 PM
@MrHen But in "x is it", x is the subject, and it is the object, while in it is x it is exactly the other way round.
It has been very busy lately... I'll be back later.
I don't really care if I am right or wrong; I just want to know what I should be doing
@Kosmonaut Okay.
@RegDwight Yeah, but what does that mean?
Why does that switch the form of [x]?
@MrHen Oh well, then you're on the wrong site anyway.))) We tend to err on the side of descriptivism.
9:19 PM
I was explicitly taught that [x] should take the same form in both of those two sentences
@MrHen Because the x switches positions with the it.
@RegDwight I don't even know what that means
@RegDwight Okay, that makes sense. I wouldn't say, "He is he."
@MrHen Well, in a nutshell, descriptivism is when you say that grammar follows usage, and prescriptivism is when you say that usage must always follow grammar.
So... if I replace both occurrences of it...
@RegDwight ah
He is him that has lied? -> Him is he that has lied
Oddly, that doesn't sound wrong to me
@Reg: I disagree with this: "prescriptivism is when you say that usage follows (and always must follow) grammar".
Remove "follows", "and", and the brackets; then I will agree.
Yay! Thanks.
9:23 PM
@Cerberus Yeah, I was going to provide examples, but I can't keep up with MrHen.
@RegDwight Sorry. I type fast :P
@Reg: Well, who else could!
So, @MrHen, for example, a prescriptivist would say "you must never end a sentence in a preposition, and never use less with countable things", and if you ask him why, he'll respond "cause I said so".
@RegDwight Sure. Okay, I understand the labels now.
A prescriptivist may very well have excellent reasons, such as tradition, aesthetics, etc.
9:25 PM
Well, I am CS so I tend to like rules for syntax and grammar :P
He should just be wary of the reverse naturalistic fallacy: "it is so in actual usage because it would be better if it were so".
I don't really care where they come from just so long as I know what I am supposed to be doing
@Cerberus but a tradition of saying "do as I say, not as I do" is not a particularly admirable one.
@RegDwight It is if whatever you are doing is a terrible, terrible thing
@Reg: That is not the tradition I had in mind; rather, "these and these reasons are traditionally considered important in writing, therefore x would be encouraged by traditionalists".
9:27 PM
@Cerberus Well, style guides is a whole nother story. But we're talking grammar here.
@Reg: I'm sorry if I missed the first part of the discussion here. Perhaps the problem (if any) lies in the distinction between grammar and style?
@Cerberus Actually, the discussion has nothing to do with either
@Cerberus Nah, no problems and no discussions, actually. Only explaining the difference between pre- and de-
I merely didn't know the terms
@MrHen: Oh... has it been solved?
9:29 PM
The actual discussion was about "it's they who lied" vs "it's them who lied".
@Cerberus Yep
and "Who wants ice cream?"
@Reg: Ah, I see. And I presume that is all clear now?
and I still am not happy with the answer to that
@Cerberus Well if by "clear" you mean the exact opposite of "clear", then yes.
"Who wants icecream" is actually interesting. What is it that you're not happy about?
@Reg: I am glad you read me so clearly; that was exactly what I meant.
9:31 PM
I was taught the following rules:
Who wants ice cream? -> I want ice cream -> I do
The negation of that is "Not I"
No, the negation of that would be "I don't".
Ah, true
9:32 PM
That's the key!
Well, OK. So what is the problem?
Sorry if I'm having you repeat things...
Actually, that one just solved itself
For "who wants ice cream", if you're gonna include the verb in your answer, then the pronoun should be nominative: "I do!" If, however, you leave off the verb, then the pronoun should default to the most natural form, i.e. "me!" Or something like that.
Okay, sure
Of course "I do" is grammatical. Nobody would ever say "Me do". But we are not talking about "me do". We are talking about "me", period.
Martha beats me to it.
9:33 PM
And ditto for negation: "I don't", or "not me".
Yeah, that totally makes sense
Okay, so...?
I can see the problem now, actually
I need either a position or a question!
@Cerberus So, that was kind of the starting point for me.
9:34 PM
So let me describe how I ended up at the wrong path:
Ooh, ooh, may I tell MrHen about [whisper]editing[/whisper]?
"Who wants ice cream?" -> I do -> I
@Martha :P
@Cerberus Both the question and the position are right here:
A: "It is they who lied" or "it is them who lied?"

MarthaIt's they. Who lied? They did. → It is they who lied.

Which ended up getting negated as Not I
Oh... that! Let me read it.
9:35 PM
Which was wrong
So, I got that
Now let us see if I can get my head wrapped around the lying one...
Who has lied? -> He has lied -> They have lied
Who is it that has lied? -> It is him that has lied -> It is them that have lied
I believe both "they" and "them" are used; "they" would be the choice of traditionalists.
This is valid:
@Cerberus That would be my understanding as well. But I would never call Martha a traditionalist, so I dunno, really.
> Who is it that has lied? -> It is him that has lied -> It is them that have lied
But traditonalists would disapprove, because it should be "he" in the second step according to tradition etc.
9:38 PM
@Cerberus Why?
Yeah, why?
Because "he" would be subject complement.
See, both "him" and "them" sound wrong to me there. I think the "it is [x] who" construction still resists objectifying the pronoun.
@Martha So who is the key, then?
Subject complements should be in the nominative case according to those who adhere to Latin-inspired, traditional rules of usage in English.
The relative clause is 100% irrelevant.
Well, to traditionalists.
The personal pronoun is here part of the main clause, not of the relative clause.
9:41 PM
@Martha So you would say "It's me, Martha!" but "It's I who is Martha"?
@RegDwight I dunno, possibly. (This is like trying to explain why it's "it looks like", not "it looks that" to my boss.)
Well, then there are three types of usage.
Well, I wouldn't say "It's [x] who is Martha", period - why would I when there's a much less awkward construction available, namely "I'm Martha"?
Yeah unrealistic examples can be off-putting.
@Martha Oh come on, you all know what I mean. Why would you ever say "It's [x] who lied", either?
Why not just "They lied".
9:45 PM
@Martha "I am who is known as Martha," perhaps?
I still don't see why there should be more to it than the simple opposition between considering the subject complement nominative (I) and objective (me).
The "it is [x] who" construction only works in the third person. It's slightly awkward even there, but it can be used for extra emphasis on the pronoun (rather than the verb).
They way I look at it is this: "He is him who has lied" actually works.
"He is he who has lied" is redundant
@Martha That is actually interesting. It might explain a lot of the confusion. At least to me.
@MrHen Don't fall into the trap of believing that descriptivist grammar is devoid of rules for syntax and grammar. What makes it different is the rules are deduced from usage rather than decided on from someone's idea of "first principles". It's much more like hard science where rules are determined by observing nature rather than like math or philosophy, where you draw conclusions by reasoning.
9:47 PM
Nohat is right.
@nohat Understood. My earlier comment was an expression of desire, not necessarily an allegiance to one side or the other.
But thanks for the head's up. :)
@MrH: I don't think this really works: "He is him who has lied".
@Cerberus Works as in, "this is stupid" or works as in, "this is wrong"?
@Cerberus I agree. Besides, in "it is...", the "it" is not the third person singular neuter pronoun, so replacing it with 'he' doesn't really work.
@Martha I am just trying to remove the word that doesn't change spelling from form to form.
9:51 PM
I think the problem with phrases that have the form <personal pronoun> who <verb phrase> is that such phrases are very formal
nobody says "he who has lied" in casual speech
@MrHen: Doesn't work as in "it is he who" would be far better in any context, though even that is stilted.
@Cerberus I would expect "it" to be replaced by something more descriptive. Something like "John."
At least, if I had to use it. I hardly expect it to ever be appropriate in any context.
Unless you were cast in The Village
@MrHen Yeah it would probably be more common with "John", and with "it's" rather than "it is".
@Cerberus "It is he who has come to save us."
@MrHen Except you can't do that: you can replace the "he" with "John", but like I said, the "it" is not actually a pronoun in this construction.
9:54 PM
@Martha Er, than what is it?
@MrHen Right, that would work in a formal context.
@MrHen I suppose Martha is zeroing in on dummy pronouns.
@MrHen A placeholder or indicator or something like that. (Did I mention I'm not the linguist in the family?)
@Cerberus Yeah, John the Baptist uses it in NKJV if I remember correctly
Q: It's raining. What is?

KitI wanted to leave the question title as is so as not to take away from my amusement :). Anyway, It's raining. What is raining? Is it the sky? The clouds? The weather? The rain? What is "it"? Any historical insights on the statement?

9:56 PM
@RegDwight Precisely!
Okay, so is there still a question? Some people would say "it is they who...", others say "it is them who...". The latter will be more common as it is more informal; the former is the choice of traditionalists.
I completely disagree that "it" in "It is he who" is that form of "it"
"It" is referring to a very specific object.
At least, that is how I have been reading it.
I agree that both "it"s aren't identical.
See definition 3a in Robusto's answer, @MrHen.
The 'it' in "It's raining" is for a verb that has no argument, whereas the 'it' in "It is he who…" is for a verb that has no subject but does have an object (or complement, if you like that terminology)

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