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Which of these sentences is grammatically incorrect? And why?
Can I have a bit of water?

I think him dead.

Were I you I'd relinquish it.

I don't want nothing what belongs to you.
asked in grammar



jacquesdor answers:

the last one is a cracker, you got everything in there!! The first should be a drop of water. The middle two are a bit doubtful, I might come back to those!


Supplement from 02/22/2009 08:33pm:

you cant say were you Id relinquish it ..... if I were you maybe.
I think he is dead.


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wumpus answers:

I think the last one is the only one which has a direct grammatical error - a double negative, and the "what" should be a "that".



I think the middle 2 are actually OK, although I would put a comma after the "were I you" bit. That's punctuation, rather than grammar.

A bit of water is stilted, but I'm not sure it's actually a grammatical error.

I think him dead sounds a bit odd, but if you can use psychokinesis to kill somebody then it's grammatically correct.


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rainchild answers:

The last one is incorrect, and the middle two are outdated, archaic forms.


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P-Kasso answers:

Definitely the last one - being a double negative means "I want something that belongs to you". ie wrong and not communicating what you mean.

But it is now so widely accepted that, although technically wrong, it is colloquially common parlance and therefore totally acceptable to all except crusty grammarians who should be extinct by now.

"I think him dead" is okay too, say, in Jamaican patois but, in frightfully proper English grammar, it would only be correct if you could actively use the power of thinking to render someone dead.

ie - telepathy or shamanism - to 'think' someone dead could be just like 'shooting' someone dead.

"A bit of water" is odd because a 'bit' is usually a piece of a solid amount - but "We can expect a bit of rain" is perfectly acceptable so why not a 'bit of water'?

"Were I you..." is that lovely pest the subjunctive case which I have never seen much use for in real life when you can say "If I was you etc" - Not so grammatically elegant but everyone knows what you mean anyway. So who cares...except grammarians flexing their quill pens?

So, last one gets my vote.


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