Of all the places he vacationed, Ian's favorite is the time when him and his best friend went to Virginia.

I just was asked in an exam to identify the error in this sentence. I think the error is "is". Shouldn't it be phrased in the past tense or is it still grammatically correct?

The reason I ask is because one of the five answer choices was: correct as it is. I remember the question but not all the five choices I had to choose form.

I do remember one more, where they underlined "OF" as the error to the sentence.

I'd appreciate any feed back.

  • 2
    So you think "him went to Virginia" is correct?
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 7, 2017 at 1:20
  • 3
    (But of course the sentence also has a serious semantic problem.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 7, 2017 at 1:21
  • 3
    (In fact, the sentence is very poorly written from several standpoints. Who created this test?)
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 7, 2017 at 1:22
  • Thanks guys, so "Him" is the error right? Also am I correct in saying that by taking out the conjunction "and his best friend" is the best way to see if the sentence doesn't' makes sense?
    – Ian Simons
    Jul 7, 2017 at 1:47
  • 2
    "So 'Him' is the error right?" The exam is the error. It is bugged in supposing that there is only one problem with the sentence. The grammar problem of using him is the least important problem. @curious-proofreader already pointed to a more important (though not grammatical) problem.
    – Drew
    Jul 7, 2017 at 1:57

1 Answer 1


In my mind there are four errors:

  1. The use of "him" in places of "he" in "him... went to Virginia" is clearly an error (as pointed out).

  2. The other issue making this odd sentence read so badly is the disagreement between "places he vacationed" and "the time when".

  3. In addition, there is a tense/time disagreement between "vacationed" (past) and "is the time when" (present).

So, if rewritten as follows, it is improved:

Of all the times he vacationed, Ian's favorite was the time when he and his best friend went to Virginia.


Of all the places he vacationed, Ian's favorite was Virginia where he went with his best friend.

  1. More controversially though, from my perspective as an Australian English speaker, it's the use of the verb "vacationed" that grates on my ear as a fourth error. Do you guys really say, "I vacationed New York last week." ?

Even if I substitute "holidayed" (the equivalent verb in UK and Aus English for "vacationed") then I still feel like a preposition is missing. For example, in my version of English, it must be, "I holidayed in Singapore before starting the job in London." and could never be, "I holidayed Singapore before starting the job in London". "Holidaying" is something that is done at or in a location, not something that is done to the location. I am assuming this would be the same with "vacationed" in US usage, but you are welcome to correct me if I am wrong.

So this is where I end up:

Of all the places he had vacationed in, Ian's favorite was Virginia where he went with his best friend.

  • 1
    No, we do not say "I vacationed New York", but we do allow for elided prepositions in this sort of construction: "of all the places I've vacationed" (with no in) is just as normal as "of all the places I've been" (with no to).
    – Hellion
    Jul 7, 2017 at 5:16
  • 2
    Your reason (3) is not valid. "Of all the places where he holidayed, Virginia is his favourite" -- he has a current favourite from all the places in the past.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 7, 2017 at 7:41
  • @Hellion Good differentiating. Jul 7, 2017 at 7:50
  • @Hellion Yes I understand and agree. I had not considered elision.
    – Thylacine
    Jul 9, 2017 at 0:03

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