Sir: In a book I was reading recently I found the statement: "He intuited years ago what researchers are just now learning." Is "intuited" a proper word? I have never seen it used this way.
- Alice J.
Answer: Yes, it's proper enough, and it's been around a long time, though some folks still object to it. The word is what is called a back-formation from "intuition," just as "diagnose" and "donate" are back-formations from "diagnosis" and "donation." If you hesitate to use it, simply say someone "knew intuitively."
Sir: I have problems with people saying things like "Where are you going to?" and "Where is it at?" and "The trouble seems to reoccur" and "Me and Joe are going to the store" and "Let's keep this secret between you and I." I hear the last from people who think they are being very proper. Is language such a fluid thing that, eventually, errors like these will be considered correct?
- Karen D.
Answer: No, not if we're all good boys and girls and eat our broccoli as we should. Borderline errors may get by now and then, but what you cite are gross errors that must never be accepted. I'm sure no reader of this column needs to be told what they are, so I won't insult you by listing them.
Sir: The statement people make that irritates me most is "I could care less" when they try to indicate how little they care about some matter. I've heard presidents, senators and talk show hosts use this - and even journalists. Of course they mean to say "I couldn't care less." Will somebody please tell them how utterly wrong they are?
- Richard S.
Answer: Bless you, I've been telling them for years, but do you think they listen? The trouble is, "I could care less" is an affectation and people use it even when they know it's wrong. They think it's witty, and of course they're half right. Someday everyone will grow tired of such a silly statement, and then we can get back to sanity. Maybe.
Sir: Did you happen to notice something wrong in a letter you printed recently? To quote: "Why can't they speak like you and me?" The "me" should be "I." A second "speak" is understood: Why can't they speak like you and I speak?" - Clare
Answer: Oh, but you're wrong. In the sentence you quoted, "like" is a preposition, and "you" and "me" are the objects. Sorry about that, Clare.
WRY QUESTION of the Week, put by Bill C.:
"I read a help-wanted advertisement saying a firm `is now hiring full-time adults only.' Is it now possible to be a part-time adult?"