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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:18

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] So here's something weird and cool about English and languages in general. It's that they have a sense of number kind of encoded into them. We call this grammatical number. And the way this plays out is in the difference between singular and plural in English. The idea of there being one of a thing or more than one of a thing. More than one of a thing. There we go. And this extends throughout the language and I want to talk about today, the way it applies to pronouns. So the singular form of me is me. Right, that's the singular form. The plural form of it, excuse me. The plural form of me is us. Because you know, there are many. Assuming, okay, assuming I was cloned. There's one of me, fine, that's singular. But let's say I walk into like a cloning machine, you know, and it's like, a part of it has got little bubbles and it's full of this weird, viscous liquid. It shoots out another David. Suddenly there's two David's. May the earth tremble. But how do we refer to ourselves? More than one me is us. The grammatical number increases. I'm part of a group now. Or for a more normal prosaic, non-cloning example, let's say my sister and I are going out for coffee. I'd refer to the two of us together as us. That's the grammatical number, it's plural. So it's important to remember when you are writing or speaking, to keep singular and plural straight throughout the course of a sentence or a paragraph because you don't want to mislead people into thinking you're talking about something else. Let me show you what I mean. For example, I would say I looked at my watch. I don't have a watch anymore. Do you have watches? Do people still have watches? Now I wouldn't say, I looked at our watch, unless, I don't know, a partner and I shared a watch. Unless my little sister and I both had the same watch and we traded it back and forth each month. Which is pretty unlikely and kind of silly. And so what I'm trying to say is that "our" doesn't agree, doesn't match up with "I" or "my." This is plural and this is singular. That is a very strange place to wear a watch. What is that, at the elbow? Alright, so we've got the dog wagged its tail. Dog is singular, its is singular. Want to make sure these things match up. We made our beds. This is plural and this is plural. As opposed to we made my beds. Which, who has multiple beds first of all. But it would also sound like multiple people, including me, were assisting me in making my many beds. There are two exceptions to this. And they are you and they. And either one can be singular or plural. So there can be a singular you or a plural you. There can be a singular they or a plural they. And I'll explain more about singular they later. The important thing is to be consistent overall. So if you establish that something is singular, you need to maintain that singularity throughout the rest of talking about that thing. So if I'm talking about cantaloupe, and here's a test, can I spell cantaloupe in real time without looking it up. That looks right to me. The cantaloupe was delicious. In the next sentence, I would say I ate it in one sitting. And it's not I ate them, it's I ate it because there's only one cantaloupe, you see? That's what I mean about grammatical number and grammatical number agreement. You just want to make sure that this thing, which we call an antecedent, links up with a pronoun. So the thing you say before you use the pronoun has to match up in terms of whether it's singular or plural. You get that figured out, you will be a master of grammatical number. You can learn anything. David out.