Laura on Life

Spoon-feeding grammar and vegetables

By Laura Snyder

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[September 05, 2012]  Son: "Can I ask you a question, Mom?"

Mom: "Sure."

Son: "My homework is asking me what the subject is for each sentence.

Mom: "OK?"

Son: "Well, I'm pretty sure that the subject is English, but would it be the same for every sentence?"

Mom: "First of all, the subject of a sentence would be the person, place or thing that the sentence is about. Secondly, English is the course you are trying to conquer."

Son: "But my notebook said 'Subject' on the front and you told me to write 'English' there."

Mom: "Indeed I did, but there wasn't a sentence for you to dissect, was there? What's the first sentence you have?"

Son: "Eat fruit or vegetables at every meal."

Mom (smiling): "Really? I like your English book!"

Son: "Why? It's not like English people know anything about eating healthy."

Mom (sarcastically): "I'm sure you know more 'English people' than I do."

Son: "Yep... So... if it's not 'English,' what is the subject?"

Mom: "The subject is 'you.'"

Son: "Me?"

Mom: "No. 'You.'"

Son (disparagingly): "Oh come on, Mom. That word isn't even in the sentence. You just want me to eat more vegetables."

Mom: "Very true, but 'you' is understood."

Son (tentatively): "I don't understand."

Mom: "In the sentence, 'you' is understood."

[to top of second column]

Son: "I don't know my grammars very good, but shouldn't you say: 'You are understood'?"

Mom: "I don't understand... and it's 'very well,' not 'very good.'"

Son: "OK, I'm very well confused."

Mom (frustrated): "Son, stop. Let's start at the beginning. The sentence is 'Eat fruit or vegetables at every meal.' It doesn't specify who is to eat the fruits and vegetables, so we must assume it is 'you.'"

Son: "Leave me outta this!"

Mom: (SIGH) "Say the sentence as if you were telling someone else to eat: 'You eat your fruits and vegetables at every meal.'"

Son (logically): "No, I don't."

Mom (suspiciously): "Are you paying attention?"

Son: "Yes."

Mom (annoyed): "No, you're not. Go away."

Son (with sudden insight): "Don't you mean, 'You go away'?"

Mom (excited): "Exactly! 'You' is the subject!"

Son (lost again): "You mean, you are the subject."

Mom: "I mean you are not getting any dinner tonight!"

Son: "At least I don't have to eat any vegetables."


Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author and speaker. You can reach her at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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