Ask the Book Doctor: About Common Errors

Saturday, October 14, 2023

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I was watching a reality show some years back wherein celebrities were competing in attempts to win money for their favorite charities. Something happened in it that has bothered me for years. Cyndi Lauper said something like, “I felt bad about that.” The MC, who I thought was supposed to be the smartest person in the show, corrected her and said, “You felt badly, Cyndi. The correct word is badly.” Cyndi dropped her head and with embarrassment “corrected” herself and said, “I felt badly.”

Am I crazy? Wasn’t she right in the first place?

A: You’re not crazy. You felt bad about the MC’s response, because he was wrong. To feel badly means that you aren’t able to feel with your fingers. To not feel well emotionally, you feel bad. I could go into great grammatical explanation of the difference, but grammar is boring. Just know that your gut feeling was right. I feel bad for Cyndi for having been correctly so badly.

Q: For some reason I keep seeing and hearing people say “I’s,” as in “That was the end of John and I’s relationship.” Is “I’s” now accepted in the English language?

A: Oddly the answer is yes, but not when “my” is the correct pronoun. “I’s” can mean “self,” but it’s rarely used in that sense these days. In your example, “John’s and my relationship” would be the correct form.

Q: Lately it seems everyone is saying “based off of” instead of “based on” and “based out of” instead of “based in.” For example, I’ve heard “Based off a survey we learned that our home office should be based out of Chicago.” What do you think of these uses?

A: First, while both “based out of” and “based in” are correct, they need to be used to mean what they intended.

“Based out of” means that a place may have headquarters in a specific place, but most of the work is done at other locations. “Based in” means that the person or company is in one location most of the time. “Based off of,” however, is a variant, whereas “based on” is the preferred usage. “Based on the better roads in that area, we chose to drive the southern route.”

Q: I want to know what you think about the use of “me and,” as in the following example: “Me and my mother went to the store.”

A: What I think doesn’t matter. It’s wrong. The correct usage would be “My mother and I went to the store.” We wouldn’t say “Me went to the store,” so the correct pronoun is “I.”


Send your questions to Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style: Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing, and owner of Zebra Communications. or Read Bobbie’s Zebra Communications blog at


Anonymous said...

As someone who has taught writing at the post-secondary level for thirty-five years, I cringe at how the word "myself" has become normative usage for "me." As in "The hotel clerk was very kind to Alice and myself."

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