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29 March 2012

More on Prince Charles's watch/see confusion....

This message just in from Old Nitpicker, a friend from the west of Scotland who commands great respect for running speedy marathons at the age of sixty-five or, since he is a mathematician and computer expert, 1000001—which looks a lot older.

“I must pull you up on that – “The Telegraph quoted Charles as saying that The Killing is 'one of the only things we can agree on seeing together'. . . . . Either way, the sentence is not grammatical." Doesn’t conform to accepted English usage - fair enough. But nothing wrong grammatically.  If you and I are stargazing in the twilight, I might well say, “Venus is one of the only things we can agree on seeing together.” (because with my poor eyesight I cannot discern any other stars) Old Nitpicker

     Yes, Comrade Nitpicker, you are right, but only in one sense. Let me give some examples:
     “Can you see that star?”
     “Yes, I can. I have been watching it for years and noticed how it changes positon with the seasons.”
     “Do you you see the television set in the corner?”
     “Yes, that’s the one I watch the news on every night.”
     “Do you see what I  mean?”
     “Yes, I do but don’t forget I am watching you closely.”
     I could go on….

1 comment:

  1. Hm, I began to read Old Nitpicker's comments and then realised he was making a different point from the one that bothers me. I am always unsettled by the phrase..'one of the only'. What does it mean? Surely 'only' can only (sic) refer to a single item or occurrence and the correct usage by the heir apparent should be 'The only thing on which we can agree.....' or 'One of the few things on which we can agree...."

    All of which reminds me of an old riddle. What's the difference between Prince Charles, a gorilla and a bald man?

    One's a heir apparent, one's a hairy parent and one has no hair apparent!