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Discussion > Some grammar policing

I should post this comment here instead of going OT in the main post.

In his BEST post, Bishop Hill says,

"Steven Mosher, who has been to meet the BEST team, has posted some interesting comments at Keith Kloor's site"

What?

has been to meet?

Now, it is not for me to question anyone's grammatical error, since my wretched record is known by all and sundry. His Grace is among the few (along with Roy Spencer and Willis Eschenbach) whose command of English I admire. And His Grace said in the past that he reads and re-reads what he posts in order to ensure the correct use of English.

But I have to ask: Is it grammatically correct to say "has been to meet"? I would have thought "has met" is the standard usage. This particular construct sounds nice to me, but unusual as well.

So, has Bish made a mistake, or is it all legit?

Mar 23, 2011 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

sHx

No, no, I think that this is soooo up to date!

His Grace has possibly picked up this construction by meeting "youfs" from south of the border at his recent lecture date in St Andrews, where representatives of the output from the current English education (euphemism) system have fled to try to avoid tuition fees. Or is that an urban myth?

Mar 23, 2011 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

The 'standard usage' would surely (Lord help us) have been 'met with'. I'm of the opinion that both of the options sHx discusses could be regarded as grammatically correct, and to my ears there is a subtle difference. The Bishop's version suggests a meeting in the past, to which Mosher travelled, whilst sHx's preference could be taken to refer to a meeting (again in the past) at an ambiguous venue (either party could have travelled). I'd therefore suggest that the Bishop's original form is the more specific.

I may of course be completely wrong!

Mar 23, 2011 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

"has been to meet"

I took it to mean that SM had made the journey. If so, it's perfectly correct, IMO.

Mar 24, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Gentlemen, thank you all very much for that. You are the best.

I agree that 'has been to meet' suggests SM made a journey to meet (with?) the BEST team. That didn't occur to me before.

"I have been to China" is OK. "I have seen the Great Wall" is OK, too. Both clearly implies that I made a journey sometime in the past to China to see the Great Wall. A slightly wordier but more explanatory sentence would be, "I have been to China to see the Great Wall".

It seems I got confused by the absence of a word denoting a particular location in Bish's sentence. This, "SM has been to Berkeley to meet (with?) the BEST team" would not have alarmed me as much.

Mar 24, 2011 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Oh, BTW, feel free to replace China and the Great Wall with England and the Hadrian's Wall. That'd be more politick perhaps.

Mar 24, 2011 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Definitely not 'with' sHx under any circumstances. 'To meet' is perfectly complete and does not require the superfluous 'with' at all, ever.

I have been to China and seen Hadrian's Wall. That sentence has the advantage of being true, grammatically correct (crosses fingers!) and totally misleading. Funny thing language.

Mar 24, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

sHx

The Bishop is following good precedent. The nursery rhyme goes:

"Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
I've been up to London to visit the Queen."

I think "I have been" in this context means "I have gone and have now returned".

Mar 24, 2011 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

"I've been to London to see the Queen" according to my memory. It was a long time ago, though...

Mar 25, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Cumbrian Lad,


"Definitely not 'with' sHx under any circumstances. 'To meet' is perfectly complete and does not require the superfluous 'with' at all, ever. "

It's odd how some of these things sound right to me at least.

I met with the estate agent - yuck.

If you continue to use pliers to undo nuts, you will meet with difficulties. OK?

He told the workers that their department was being closed and met with a hostile response. OK?

I suppose in the last two cases you could drop "with" with no loss of meaning. there are also other constructions which convey the same meaning.

If you substitute "meet" by "encounter" adding "with" sounds really naff.

I find that youf talk jars, but on the other hand, giving lectures on grammar is handing hostages to fortune with every sentence.

Mar 25, 2011 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

James P

Given that nursery rhymes are transmitted orally everybody's version is correct. However, I have consulted the family copy of The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, which I take to be the definitive text. (Yes boys, I did wash my hands first.) It has:

"Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?
I've been to London to look at the Queen."

There is a Scottish variant:

"Poussie, poussie, baudrons, where hae ye been?
I've been to London, seeing the Queen."

I am looking forward to a happy evening's browsing.

Mar 25, 2011 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Cosmic, you're absolutely right about the hostages to fortune. I'm sure there is an immutable natural law that causes anyone picking up on incorrect punctuation in an internet post to immediately miss out an apostrophe or abuse a semicolon. Grammar, like language, is something that evolves slowly so there is rarely a single view of its correctness at any point, just a larger or smaller majority in favour or agin.

I think in your examples above that, rather than approve or disapprove of the 'with' in any particular case, I would move the goalposts and suggest that the words met/meet are being overused and could readily be replaced by a better word. So one could have or encounter difficulties, and receive a hostile response. (I'm now wondering if meet/met should ever be used of inanimate objects or abstracts, and should be reserved for the act of people meeting?)

I very definitely believe, however, that it's reached the point on a Friday evening when I need to search for a bottle of something from the Allendale Brewery to float me safely out of the rocky margined bay of grammatical pedantry onto the wide ocean of colloquial inexactitude.

Mar 25, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Last person to speak on grammar but I would say "has been to meet" versus "Has met" are different to me. And after starting writing this I see the pussycat example clarifies it. If the pussy cat has met the queen did the Queen visit the cat?

Mar 29, 2011 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

hehehe...loves the amateur linguisticians....after what they say about mann and co

Apr 17, 2011 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes