1

I'm trying to talk about several grammatical errors that a Negro makes when he's speaking: "us wants" and "I is."

I'd like to give an example so that you'll know what I want. For “Thats” and “aint,” I may use "omission of apostrophe," and I want to know how I can describe the kind of errors given above.


These words are actually from a dialogue in Jean Toomer's short story "Blood-Burning Moon," which was first published in the 1920s. I just copied "Negro" because Toomer himself used this word in the text. I thought it was a neutral word and did not mean to suggest anything political.

10
  • To be clear, omitting the written apostrophe is no more a grammatical error than any other spelling mistake is. One should avoid confusing writing errors for grammatical ones. What you're asking about, however, is indeed a grammatical error because you can hear its issue without needing to read how it has been transcribed into written form. Grammar is about syntax and morphology, which you are in fact asking about, so the reference to mere writing errors may risk confusing answerers who will want to answer the grammatical question.
    – tchrist
    Dec 24, 2023 at 17:10
  • 3
    You cant omit an apostrophe when youre speaking. Dec 24, 2023 at 17:40
  • 1
    Unless you're quoting from an old book, I don't think anyone has used the word negro in about 50 years. Let's just call it 'unwise' & move on rapidly. You perhaps need to research at least the first elements of African American English [AAE & its close cousin AAVE] to see why some of these forms are not 'incorrect', they are dialectic.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 24, 2023 at 17:50
  • 1
    Please do not drag the euphemism treadmill, political causes, neo-taboos, social justice, cultural relativism, and race baiting into a simple question of terminology. This is a simple question with a simple answer.
    – tchrist
    Dec 24, 2023 at 18:22
  • 4
    Thanks for your ideas! These words are actually from a dialogue in Jean Toomer's short story "Blood-Burning Moon," which was first published in the 1920s. I just copied "Negro" because Toomer himself used this word in the text. I thought it was a neutral word and did not mean to suggest anything political. Again, thanks for your answers!
    – Yuhang Ma
    Dec 25, 2023 at 1:48

1 Answer 1

4

Agreement error

This is called an agreement error. It is a grammatical error not a writing error. When you get back copy marked up by a proofreader, a circled agr indicates this problem.

The Wikipedia article on Agreement says:

In linguistics, agreement or concord (abbreviated ᴀɢʀ) occurs when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves making the value of some grammatical category (such as gender or person) "agree" between varied words or parts of the sentence.

For example, in Standard English, one may say I am or he is, but not "I is" or "he am". This is because English grammar requires that the verb and its subject agree in person. The pronouns I and he are first and third person respectively, as are the verb forms am and is. The verb form must be selected so that it has the same person as the subject in contrast to notional agreement, which is based on meaning.

8
  • 1
    Yes, but you are not addressing the elephant in the room, are you?
    – Lambie
    Dec 24, 2023 at 18:12
  • 1
    @Lambie I answered the question asked. I refuse to be drawn into slapping people down just because the Holy Inquisition of Political Language would levy their full wrath upon them, complete with all the crushing social opprobrium they can bring to bear on their innocent victims. That's something you expect of China, not the West.
    – tchrist
    Dec 24, 2023 at 18:33
  • Frankly, I don't think that Chinese people are expected to know anything about all this. So, that is a consideration well outside the bounds of what you indicate.
    – Lambie
    Dec 24, 2023 at 19:00
  • @Lambie What do you mean Chinese people are not "expected to know anything about all this?"
    – Yuhang Ma
    Dec 25, 2023 at 2:04
  • @tchrist Thanks for your answer. I will take it.
    – Yuhang Ma
    Dec 25, 2023 at 2:04

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.