I wanted to point out a couple of things that I constantly hear, from people who should know better. Without getting too technical and invoking a lot of grammar jargon like predicate and participial I’ll just briefly mention a few things I hear most often.
What I hear is “Him and I talked…” or “Me and her met…” I hear it at work, on television (you’d think the writers of the shows would know better, wouldn’t you?) This does you no credit, because you’re bound to end up working for someone who knows better and will cringe everytime you say something like that.
The word “and” is a signal that both halves of that conversation are the subject. Here’s what you can try: Remove the “and” along with either the first or second party, and what do you have? “Him talked…” or “Me met,” or “Her met.” I know no one would say those things, but for some reason when they’re together, people can’t see it. Simply put, whichever pronoun you use in front of and after the “and” has to be able to stand on its own, as if the second one wasn’t there.
Correct: “He and I talked” or “She and I met”
The Death of the Infinitive “To Be”
Another trend I’ve noticed over the last several years is that of dropping the verb “to be,” as in “I need briefed,” or “He needed taught.” It makes it sound as if “briefed” and “taught” somehow became nouns, things you could pick up at the grocery store. This is not just slang people use in informal conversation with friends, I hear this from degreed professionals in the office. How did this happen? Where did this start? The first time I heard it was from a guest speaker at a convention who uttered the first example phrase, “I need briefed.” I’ve been scratching my head over it ever since, and that was probably 20 years ago, and the usage seems to be picking up steam over time. It’s such a tiny little verb, maybe that’s why it gets overlooked? It may be trendy, but it sounds, and is, wrong.
Now this one I see in print All.The.Time. Most often I see then used when it should be than. ‘Than’ is comparative, as in “Steve is taller than John,” or “Marcy’s cookies were better than Sue’s.”
‘Then’ is used in time situations. “If he arrives on time, then we’ll go to the movie,” which specifies “That is when” the event will occur. Maybe the ‘e’ in ‘when’ and ‘then’ can work as a little mnemonic?
Wrong: Had went.
Right: Had gone.
Go-Went-Gone. I go. I went. I had gone.
There are more I could get into but if you have questions, here’s a great site which can help with a quick question, and minimal, but effective, explanations: Common Errors in English Usage.