Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

I THINK I have been won over by a charming Dane. Gunner Pedersen sends an example of syntactical error (many of our pet gripes being semantic, or at least lexical) from the usually virtuous pages of the Weekly Telegraph. `Within the next few weeks,' it said in May, `Ms Millar's will also be one of the hands that rocks the cradle.'

Put simply, the mistake is to have taken the antecedent of the relative pronoun that as 'one'; in fact it is 'hands'. There is no doubt about this: both good 'old' Fowler and updated Fowler revised by Dr R.W. Burchfield note the error under 'number' and agreement' respectively.

But why is the error made? I think it might be partly a consequence of a little learning. I mean that people have learnt the danger of false agreement when the nearest noun to the verb is taken wrongly for its subject. For example: `One of the men were swearing', when it should be was (the subject being 'one' not 'men'). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.