Sir: My wife suggested that I write. Here is my dilemma. She and I talk about going to the store, or perhaps I say I'm going somewhere, and some time later I'll ask her, "Are you going with?" or "Do you want to go with?" She says, "With what?" She knows what I mean; she is just trying to let me know I said it. She thinks I should say something after "with." Such as "with me." I think it's improper to add unnecessary words. Help. Who's right?
- Jeff P.Answer: She is, emphatically. You need to add an object to "with." Your wife has been doing you a kindly favor to point out the need so patiently. One of these days she may lose her patience and tell you to go without.
Sir: Violent arguments here on the question of "kissing cousin." Do the people need to be related, even if distantly or obliquely, or can they just be good friends? Please answer soon. I enclose my telephone number.
- Annabelle M.
Answer: Gee whiz. Well, definitions differ. The more conservative say kissing cousins are distant relatives known well enough to be kissed when greeted. The more liberal include nonrelatives if you know them well enough. From the urgent tone, I gather that you prefer the latter, so I should warn you that the kissing is generally defined as more or less formal. If you go beyond that point, you're on your own without a dictionary to hide behind.
Sir: In response to your favorite comment about "snuck," I would like to say I don't object to practical change in a living language, but change spawned in ignorance and adopted by indifference is idiotic.
Answer: Thank you, sir. Jonathan Swift would have loved you. He's the one, you may recall, who denounced the ignorant and idiotic use of "mob" by people too indifferent to say "mobile vulgus."
Sir: What is the distinction, if any, between a police chase and a police pursuit? The police and courts frequently mix the two.
- John F.
Answer: My understanding is that a chase is more immediate while a pursuit may continue over a longer period. I do know it's not good to be either chased or pursued by the law in any case.
QUESTION of the Week, by Betty R.:
"At a rest stop in Ohio I saw a sign informing me that it was 70 miles to the `Indiana Boarder.' Who is this famous boarder, and where does he board?"