Word of the Day: Hypercorrection

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Word of the Day: Hypercorrection

Definition: Misusing grammatical rules by overthinking how they should be applied or applying them in the wrong context

At some point, we might have been told that it is better manners to say ‘yourself’, instead of ‘you’. Or ‘you and I’ instead of ‘you and me’. But if your teacher were to tell you that ‘Fred and yourself did a good job on this homework’, that would be a hypercorrection. Why?

Just pretend that Fred was no good at homework because he was invisible. The teacher would really be saying ‘ … Yourself did a good job on this homework’.

(Invisible friends, eh. Can’t take ’em anywhere.)

Other languages have different words for ‘you’ depending on whether you are being formal and informal. In English, hypercorrecting a personal pronoun might be a way we think we are making up for it (just my theory). But there are examples of common hypercorrections in lots of other languages.

So next time you are holding forth to your friends about the finer points of grammar, you can tell them why ‘Please reserve front row seats for the emperor and me’ is correct usage, but ‘The emperor and me will have soup’ is not.

Me like soup.

By | 2017-05-19T08:20:56+00:00 March 3rd, 2015|Grammar, WOTD|0 Comments

About the Author:

Minnie has a Master of Public and International Law degree, and specialises in writing for vulnerable audiences—making complex policy meaningful to those who need it most.

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