After that last little discussion on grammar,Â it’s time to play “you’re the writer.”Â Below are the sorts of choices I have to make with every line of dialogue I write.Â I know perfectly well when I’m being ungrammatical.Â And when I am ungrammatical,Â I know that someone, somewhere, is going to look at that and think I’m an ignoramus.Â That’s the dilemma you, as a writer, have to struggle with.Â Do you write “proper English?”Â Or “spoken English”?
Most of you know the character of Jane Rizzoli.Â You know that she comes from a blue-collar background, that she’s a cop who worked her way up to detective, and that she doesn’t mince words.Â So which of the following would Jane say:
“Who should I give this to?”Â or:Â “To whom should I give this?”
“I gotta go.”Â or:Â “I have to go.”
“He’s taller than me.”Â or:Â “He’s taller than I.”
“What’s that meant for?”Â or:Â “What is its purpose?”
“Give me that.”Â or:Â “Give that to me.”
Â “Do you ever wonder about him, like I do?”Â or:Â “Do you ever wonder about him, as I do?”
In every case, I think that either choice is perfectly comprehensible.Â There’s no doubt of the speaker’s meaning.Â Some versions may not be grammatical, but they get their point across.Â And that’s the whole purpose of language, isn’t it?