Archive for the ‘adverbs’ Category

How do you put a call INTO a friend? Is that a good idea?

Friday, February 21st, 2014

INTO and IN TO can be confusing. If you are a grammar-savvy reader, it might be enough to explain that INTO is a preposition (as in "into attending her high school reunion"). INTO takes an object (in this case, ATTENDING). IN by itself is an adverb that describes the verb coming before it, and TO is a separate preposition (as in "…he put a call in to a friend…."). IN describes the verb PUT. FRIEND is the object of the preposition TO.

Consider this sentence from an al.com column about tonight's (February 21, 2014) speaker (author Ann Patchett) at the Hoover library Southern Voices conference:

When a recent divorcee gets talked in to attending her high school reunion, she works to overcome her phobia of highway driving to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

Then consider this sentence that appeared recently in an al.com article about a change in police vests:

Hagler recalled seeing Chicago police officers wearing load-bearing vests when he was there for an International Association of Chiefs of Police convention, and he put a call into a friend on the Chicago force.

If you want to be correct but don't care so much about the actual grammar rules, think of this in terms of visual image. You don't want to PUT A CALL INTO your friend. Ouch! (That might require some sort of surgery or mystic spell.) You also don't want to TALK THAT DIVORCEE IN (the way the control tower might talk a plane in during bad weather). The images you want are "put IN a call" and "talked INTO attending."

These sentences should read this way:

When a recent divorcee gets talked into attending her high school reunion, she works to overcome her phobia of highway driving to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

Hagler recalled seeing Chicago police officers wearing load-bearing vests when he was there for an International Association of Chiefs of Police convention, and he put in a call to a friend on the Chicago force."

COMMENT: I'd like to take this opportunity to commend the Hoover Public Library in Hoover, Alabama, for its wonderful Southern Voices conference. Year after year, their great staff bring outstanding well-known authors and new rising stars in a unique format that is loved by readers and authors alike. This year is no exception, beginning this evening with a talk by novelist and non-fiction author Ann Patchett.