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Incorrect Rection

Rection is the older term for grammatical government, as in what postposition a word takes. In the anglophone world, Americans are particularly  prone to making mistakes in this sphere of grammar. For instance, a common error is replacing of with to after the verb ask. This is due to interference between two semantically similar cases involving the same action, viz. “putting a question to” and “asking a question of” someone. The result is a contamination, leading to the oft-heard but unequivocally erroneous *asking a question to, particularly in the language of the media .

Similarly, the postpositions of and for are frequently interchanged erroneously. One is “desirous of” a change but “prepared for” it, just as one “consents to” a strategy but “acquiesces in” it, although the latter verb formerly allowed both to and with as complements, which are now obsolescent.

It is just such grammatical nuances of rection that most often trip up non-native speakers who are otherwise fluent in English.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

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