Here are the answers to last week's challenge, brought to you by Karen Wegner, the first to provide a completely correct answer:
- Jennie and I went to the playground.
- The guard opened the gate for Jennie and me.
- The cheerleaders all came over to Jennie's and my house.
- Jennie and I drove to North Carolina last weekend.
- The clerk gave Jennie and me a discount on the tickets.
- Did Jennie or I leave the Chinese food on the counter overnight?
Other completely correct answers came from Leigh Pedwell, Jing Ping Fan, Stacey Edwards, Daniel Jones, and Krista Allen, and those who missed only the detail of Jennie's and my were Brenda Sing, Mary Anne Benvenutti, Jenny Chappell, Zoe Cohen, Jodi Hill, Chris Zimmel, Tara Allen, and Sonia Verma.
The hardest example in the challenge was clearly number 3, with everyone getting my correct, but only some people making their way to the completely correct Jennie's and my. A couple of respondents went with our instead of Jennie's and my, which is also correct.
Here is an explanation of Jennie's and my. If two people co-own something, the apostrophe-s goes on the second name only, and covers both people, like this: Jan and Dean's songs. They co-own the songs. You use two separate apostrophe-s's if the two people own separate items:
Tom's and David's cars are in the parking garage. [Two separate cars owned by separate people]
But when the second person is represented by a pronoun, there is no apostrophe-s to show that the first person is part of the ownership, so you have to put the apostrophe-s on the name and also use the possessive pronoun:
Jennie's and my house [we co-own it]
As Tara Allen pointed out, that looks an awful lot like the individual ownership of Tom's and David's cars discussed above. However, there is a crucial difference that makes things clear: no s on house. There is only one house, co-owned. If there were separate houses, we would write it this way:
Jennie's and my houses are on the same street.
Krista Allen gets a special callout for noticing an additional problem with number 6. The way it was originally worded, it seemed to be asking simply, "Did one of us leave the Chinese food out?" However, the listing of Jennie and I separately in the original seems to imply that the person is really asking which of the two people did it. Allen suggests this alternative wording: "Did I leave the food on the counter overnight, or was it Jennie?" This rewording gets at the question of which person did it, but I would tweak it further to make the two questions parallel. The verb in the first part is did leave and the verb in the second part is was. For parallelism I would recommend "or did Jennie?" At that point, I would also go to the tradition of naming the other person first, and make it "Did Jennie leave the Chinese food on the counter, or did I?"
Speaking of listing the other person first, Michael Proodian raised the question of this common [incorrect] wording:
Me and Jennie went to the playground.
For politeness, formal language requires putting the other person's name first rather than me or I. (In fact, a name is typically used first when in conjunction with any pronoun.) And then, of course, me should be I, because the pronoun I is one of the subjects of the verb went: I went.
Here is your next challenge. Choose the correct pronoun:
- Who's/whose shoes are in the dryer?
- Who's/whose on first?
- To who/whom should I address my cover letter?
- Who/whom painted your dining room?
- Who/whom shall I say is calling?
- You gave your camp stove to who/whom?
- Those guys in the stretch limo are who/whom?
- Who/whom do you think will be elected?
- Who/whom do you think they will nominate?
- Who/whom do you think will win?
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