We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
On Forensic Fridays, we dissect the English language to see what it’s made of and how to use it properly. Well, at least we do that on most Fridays.
Today’s subject isn’t exactly a matter of grammar, although it does pertain to communicating. It’s more a matter of simple math and common sense.
I read two different obituaries this week—yes, I do read them since people my age appear there now and then—involving people approaching their 71st birthdays but proclaiming in the text that they were in their 70th year. Really?
Does that mean before their first birthdays they were in their zeroeth year? I don’t think so. The day you were born, you entered your first year of life. At the end of that year, you had your first birthday and entered your second year of life.
Since we don’t consider the day of birth to be our first birthday, each birthday ends the year it signifies. Turned 35 on your last birthday? Then you’re in your 36th year right now.
Similarly, since there is no such thing as the year zero, New Year’s Day of year 1 represented the end of year one and the beginning of year two. Right now, we are in the 2013th year of the Christian calendar. New Year’s Eve will mark the end of that year and the beginning of the 2014th year. Next year will be designated 2013 because we will have completed 2013 years as we enter it.
As I said above, it’s not rocket science—just logic and simple math. No grammar involved here, but let’s do try to communicate in a rational manner.
What grammatical misuse bothers you? What particular area of grammar would you like help with? I’d love to hear and help.
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