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  1. #1
    I'm Still Standin' AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    "Each" followed by pronouns

    I'm not in agreement with an editor. It's a small thing, but before I demand my way I should, of course, be sure I'm right. And I've thought about this enough that I've managed to thoroughly confuse myself.

    The original sentence, with a noun change to make it suitable for all ages:

    He kissed each finger, flicking it with his tongue, leaving it glistening.

    The editor would like both uses of it to be changed to them. Yes? No? Reasons?

    If it matters, editor is British, I'm American. Nearly all editor's other suggestions will make the manuscript better, as she clearly knows her stuff.

    Maryn, confuzzled
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  2. #2
    Meow SuperModerator alleycat's Avatar
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    Them sounds better to me.

    Or maybe . .

    He kissed each finger, flicking each with his tongue, leaving them glistening.
    .

  3. #3
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. Torgo's Avatar
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    I think 'it' is correct, but to be honest I'm not actually that great at grammar (I am a story guy not a copy-ed.) Now I'm wondering what the original noun w- oh actually as I type I just realised what it probably is.

    EDIT: Oh, balls, maybe 'them' does sound better. Ignore me.

  4. #4
    The Squeaky Toy in the Night. Kerosene's Avatar
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    I like alleycat's suggestion. "Each finger" sounds plural as a group to me.
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  5. #5
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Honestly, I think it's 'it' as the attention is given to each finger individually. Using 'them' makes me think all fingers all at once.

    Ari, not a grammarian
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  6. #6
    Meow SuperModerator alleycat's Avatar
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    The more I look at the sentence the more I become unsure.

    Now I'm thinking it is probably correct.

    Call me Mr. Wishy-Washy.
    .

  7. #7
    I fight like a dairy farmer Corussa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ari Meermans View Post
    Honestly, I think it's 'it' as the attention is given to each finger individually. Using 'them' makes me think all fingers all at once.

    Ari, not a grammarian
    I'd agree with this; use 'it' to match the singular of 'each'.

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  8. #8
    It's just a jump to the left... SWest's Avatar
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    There's this group of fingers, and something happens to each of them, whereupon they are all...whatever they ended up becoming.



    Westie, who repped what she thinks Maryn's thinking
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    Wish Me Away

    Ours is characteristically the kind of if-it-isn't-this-it-has-to-be-that, dichotomized, either/or thinking that philosophers from earlier times have cautioned can lead to a simplistic misreading of reality. And, indeed, psychologists today have discovered it is the mark of a lower or less psychologically evolved stage of cognitive and emotional development. - Riane Eisler

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  9. #9
    I'm Still Standin' AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Ah, but it is safe to accept the word of someone who keeps shoes so far beyond their useful lives?

    Maryn, who has a T-shirt advertising a 1989 event in regular rotation
    Get to work. Success isn't built on the power of your dreams.


    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
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  10. #10
    It's just a jump to the left... SWest's Avatar
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    Those shoes have, sadly, passed on.

    ETA:

    OK...I think I've figured out what makes my brain pop: I do not know where to look.

    I'd address this scene in either of two ways:

    All singular: He kissed Sam's left thumb, flicking it with his tongue, leaving it glistening. Then Sam's right thumb suffered the exact same fate.

    All plural: He kissed both of Sam's thumbs, flicking each (of them - implied) with his tongue, leaving them glistening.


    Westie, who has lost considerable sleep thinking about this
    Last edited by SWest; 02-04-2013 at 08:30 PM.
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    Wish Me Away

    Ours is characteristically the kind of if-it-isn't-this-it-has-to-be-that, dichotomized, either/or thinking that philosophers from earlier times have cautioned can lead to a simplistic misreading of reality. And, indeed, psychologists today have discovered it is the mark of a lower or less psychologically evolved stage of cognitive and emotional development. - Riane Eisler

    I couldn't be here in spirit, so I came in person. - Red Buttons

  11. #11
    Totally Ninja! quickWit's Avatar
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    I'd have him skip her fingers and head straight for her honeypot.

    However, if you INSIST on taking the long route...'them', while probably not technically correct, sounds better to me.
    Grill me a cheese.

  12. #12
    I'm Still Standin' AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quickWit View Post
    I'd have him skip her fingers and head straight for her honeypot.

    However, if you INSIST on taking the long route...'them', while probably not technically correct, sounds better to me.
    Who says it's really fingers? Remember, I changed the noun to make it board appropriate. Also, who says it's a she?

    Maryn, sly grin
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  13. #13
    Totally Ninja! quickWit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    Who says it's really fingers?
    Ooo, that's diabolical! Hmm...is it really gall bladders? OMG - is it really a chick with mulitple Gall Bladders?!

    that would be sore hawt if it they them was.
    Grill me a cheese.

  14. #14
    Moderator In Name Only AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    He kissed each finger, flicking it with his tongue, leaving it glistening.
    It sounds much better the way you've written it. It gives a much more vivid image of kissing and licking each one at a time. Besides, it's correct.
    --Roger J. Carlson

  15. #15
    O Tannenbaum, O . . . Chase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    He kissed each finger, flicking it with his tongue, leaving it glistening.

    The editor would like both uses of it to be changed to them. Yes? No? Reasons?
    Your editor is one enamored with the singular them. Many are. Still, the style of matching pronouns to antecedents in number is always correct, so you're right whether your choice is all singular or all plural:

    All singular: He kissed each finger, flicking it with his tongue, leaving it glistening.

    All plural: He kissed the offered fingers, flicking them with his tongue, leaving a high-glistening five.

    Your first choice is my choice.

  16. #16
    Meow SuperModerator alleycat's Avatar
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    Well, if these are not actually fingers but, uh, something else (of which there are two), then I would definitely go with it.
    .

  17. #17
    O Tannenbaum, O . . . Chase's Avatar
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    Leave it to a scholarly-looking, well-dressed cat to think of his ears being licked. Now I'll have nightmares about overly moist ears.

  18. #18
    Meow SuperModerator alleycat's Avatar
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    Yeah, but I'm not wearing pants.
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  19. #19
    Caped Codder jaksen's Avatar
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    All I can imagine is a hand covered in spit.

    :-/
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  20. #20
    pretending to be awake onesecondglance's Avatar
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    I'd go with "it" - I don't think this is a UK/US english thing.
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  21. #21
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Why not eliminate the problem word?

    He kissed her fingers, flicking them with his tongue, etc.

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW Kittens Starburst's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BethS View Post
    Why not eliminate the problem word?

    He kissed her fingers, flicking them with his tongue, etc.
    This is best, and common sense tells you he's attacking each finger individually, not getting stuck into them all at once.

    If you want to keep the fingers individual, my instincts say 'them' (just like in the above sentence, in fact). But I could be wrong.

  23. #23
    resident curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    I'm not in agreement with an editor. It's a small thing, but before I demand my way I should, of course, be sure I'm right. And I've thought about this enough that I've managed to thoroughly confuse myself.

    The original sentence, with a noun change to make it suitable for all ages:

    He kissed each finger, flicking it with his tongue, leaving it glistening.

    The editor would like both uses of it to be changed to them. Yes? No? Reasons?

    If it matters, editor is British, I'm American. Nearly all editor's other suggestions will make the manuscript better, as she clearly knows her stuff.

    Maryn, confuzzled
    The second "it" means he left his tongue glistening.

  24. #24
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kittens Starburst View Post
    common sense tells you he's attacking each finger individually
    For absolute clarity, she could say something like, "He kissed her fingers one by one..."

  25. #25
    Needs More Hands.... Fallen's Avatar
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    He kissed each finger, flicking it with his tongue, leaving it glistening.


    You know, I fall on the 'them' side. Purely because I get the sense that he's finished kissing all the fingers before the participles kick in. (He's gone along 'flicking them with his tongue, leaving them glistening.)

    He kissed one finger, then another, flicking each with his tongue, leaving them glistening.
    Last edited by Fallen; 02-02-2013 at 04:42 AM.

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