I was recently asked by a colleague at work to look through his first, very rough, draft of a piece he had written in English. I’m still not sure exactly what it was, but he mentioned something about it being a film review, being seen by his class, and for the parents of the pupils. Or something.
Anyway, it was incredibly basic, and caused me to giggle a fair number of times. The layout and, in particular, the spelling were atrocious, giving me a tittle of an ego boost.
I had a few minutes today to give the text another quick look, when I came across a mistake neither I nor the other “qualified” English teacher had seen at the first reading. The first sentence recounted the basic situation of the film, revolving around the “horrifying” lives of some school students.
Whilst I have never given it much though before, probably because I, like many others, use this word incorrectly, it suddenly occurred to me that horrify is a transitive verb. Transitive verbs need an object (e.g. I am horrifying the children at school with my outlandish behaviour), and there was no object in the text to be horrified.
What is needed here is the adjectival form of horrifying, which is “horrific”.
The film is about the horrific lives of some children…
is now how the text is formulated. I cannot say just how much joy I experienced by realising this mistake and rectifying it so that it is without error.
Now I think about it, can horrifying be used as an adjective? Nuts! I am befuddled. Oh, well, it’s back to my usual state of confusion until I can find out the correct answer to this conundrum.