81 – Midi-rant: The Education Secretary in a comma tangle

“It says here that Nicky Morgan is your Education Secretary.”

“She is indeed.”

“Goodness me!”

“No, no, they say she is quite good.”

“It’s not that!”

“What do you mean it’s not that? You wouldn’t want cabinet ministers to be incompetent, would you?”

“No, no, it’s how she was quoted in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. She is supposed to have been speaking about changing her mind on gay marriage.”

“Oh yes, yes, she used to be against. I mean, honestly – in this day and age …”

“No, no, NO: it’s not THAT!”

“So what is it then?”

“How they put it.”

“How did they put it?”

“What changed my mind was talking to same-sex couples.”

“So? All credit to her, I’d say. Not everyone would publicly admit to changing their mind – and on such a sensitive issue at that.”

“No, no, no, it’s this idiotic comma!”

“What idiotic comma?”

“The one they plonked after ‘mind’. Look at this!”

And, indeed, there is was, leaping off page 5.

 “What changed my mind, was talking to same-sex couples.”

“Oh yes, yes, it’s not all that uncommon, the comma separating the subject from its verb.”

“How come? Isn’t that a basic punctuation principle? I mean that you don’t separate those bits of the sentence that are closely related?”

“Of course it is. But I don’t think British schools used to be bothered. They may be now, but they weren’t for a long time.”

“Good grief!”

“I know, I know. So many folk are in the dark.”

“Including newspaper sub-editors?”

“Including newspaper sub-editors. And, of course, to avoid this error in all contexts you need to be taught that the subject needn’t be a noun phrase and may be a nominal clause such as this.”

“I wonder what your Education Secretary would make of that.”

“‘Must try harder,’ I should imagine.”

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13 thoughts on “81 – Midi-rant: The Education Secretary in a comma tangle

  1. Another example of long-term relationships not lasting: Divorcing, a verb, from its’ noun – I just do’nt understand why their getting it so much wronger these days?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m TERRIBLY sorry, Jennie: I’ve only just spotted this comment, which has been sitting in the Pending folder. I feel awful no to have replied sooner. In theory, I am on Goodreads but have been inactive. So I have no right to complain – I am absolutely hopeless at promotion.

    Like

  3. Please don’t apologise Anna – as you can see I’m just as bad 🙂 Better late than never. I am also hopeless at self-promotion; it all seems so tedious. Ill try to connect with you on Goodreads if that’s OK.

    Like

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