Dem Cows, Dey Behooved

 grammar  Comments Off on Dem Cows, Dey Behooved
Sep 272015

Maybe there’s something in the water … or maybe there’s something in the air (besides a song, or besides autumn (oh, happy autumn, by the way … only a few days late)).

Twice in the past week I have heard the word behoove used incorrectly. In both cases, the incorrect usage was as a verb meaning befuddled, as in “It behooves me why the grocery store would stop selling its most popular prune juice.”

Behooved is not befuddled. Behooved is not confused, curious, or wondering.

Behooved is also not a description of the podiatric state of bovine and equestrian animals, as in “Dem cows, dey behooved.”

Merriam-Webster has this to say about the verb behoove:  transitive verb. : to be necessary, proper, or advantageous for.   intransitive verb. : to be necessary, fit, or proper.

An example: It behooves us to study the writings of the American forefathers to understand their views of government.

I don’t think I realized that behoove also has an intransitive state. I looked up some examples and it goes like this:

Tenacity is a quality that behooves in an athlete.

Several sources claim the intransitive usage is archaic. [ Incidentally, that means that you can’t use the intransitive while you are modifying your writing … after all, you know the adage, “You can’t have archaic and edit too.” (Sorry, I’m tired. If you need me to explain the adage to you, write me.) ]

Anyway, just remember … it behooves all of us to pay attention to our vocabulary!