Category: Grammar

September 10, 2019

My Latest for Grammar Girl: “Verbing Nouns and Nouning Verbs”

A lot of people dislike it when nouns like task and dialogue are turned into verbs, but this process has been a normal part of English for centuries. In my latest piece for Grammar Girl, I explain why we should all relax a little about verbing nouns. Read the whole piece or listen to the […]

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Grammar, Usage 0 Replies to “My Latest for Grammar Girl: “Verbing Nouns and Nouning Verbs””
July 5, 2018

I Request You to Read This Post

Several weeks ago, I tweeted about a weird construction that I see frequently at work thanks to our project management system. Whenever someone assigns me to a project, I get an email like the one below: I said that the construction sounded ungrammatical to me—you can ask someone to do something or request that they do it, […]

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Grammar, Varieties of English 6 Replies to “I Request You to Read This Post”
May 19, 2017

For Whomever the Bell Tolls

A couple of weeks ago, Ben Yagoda wrote a post on Lingua Franca in which he confessed to being a whomever scold. He took a few newspapers to task for messing up and using whomever where whoever was actually called for, and then he was taken to task himself by Jan Freeman. He said that […]

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Grammar, Usage 5 Replies to “For Whomever the Bell Tolls”
November 15, 2016

Whence Did They Come?

In a recent episode of Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast, John McWhorter discussed the history of English personal pronouns. Why don’t we use ye or thee and thou anymore? What’s the deal with using they as a gender-neutral singular pronoun? And where do they and she come from? The first half, on the loss of ye […]

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Grammar, Historical linguistics 5 Replies to “Whence Did They Come?”
October 31, 2016

Stupidity on Singular They

A few weeks ago, the National Review published a singularly stupid article on singular they. It’s wrong from literally the first sentence, in which the author, Josh Gelernter, says that “this week, the 127-year-old American Dialect Society voted the plural pronoun ‘they,’ used as a singular pronoun, their Word of the Year.” It isn’t from […]

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Grammar, Usage 23 Replies to “Stupidity on Singular They
September 8, 2016

To Boldly Split Infinitives

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek, so I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about split infinitives. (So did Merriam-Webster, which beat me to the punch.) If you’re unfamiliar with split infinitives or have thankfully managed to forget what they are since your high school days, it’s […]

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Grammar, Usage 8 Replies to “To Boldly Split Infinitives”
February 4, 2016

A Rule Worth Giving Up On

A few weeks ago, the official Twitter account for the forthcoming movie Deadpool tweeted, “A love for which is worth killing.” Name developer Nancy Friedman commented, “There are some slogans up with which I will not put.” Obviously, with a name like Arrant Pedantry, I couldn’t let that slogan pass by without comment. A love […]

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Grammar, Usage 16 Replies to “A Rule Worth Giving Up On”
March 5, 2015

No, Online Grammar Errors Have Not Increased by 148%

Yesterday a post appeared on QuickandDirtyTips.com (home of Grammar Girl’s popular podcast) that appears to have been written by a company called Knowingly, which is promoting its Correctica grammar-checking tool. They claim that “online grammar errors have increased by 148% in nine years”. If true, it would be a pretty shocking claim, but the numbers […]

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Grammar, Usage 6 Replies to “No, Online Grammar Errors Have Not Increased by 148%”
February 23, 2015

Fifty Shades of Bad Grammar Advice

A few weeks ago, the folks at the grammar-checking website Grammarly wrote a piece about supposed grammar mistakes in Fifty Shades of Grey. Despite being a runaway hit, the book has frequently been criticized for its terrible prose, and Grammarly apparently saw an opportunity to fix some of the book’s problems (and probably sell its […]

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Editing, Grammar, Punctuation, Rants, Usage 18 Replies to “Fifty Shades of Bad Grammar Advice”
February 11, 2015

Why Is It “Woe Is Me”?

I recently received an email asking about the expression woe is me, namely what the plural would be and why it’s not woe am I. Though the phrase may strike modern speakers as bizarre if not downright ungrammatical, there’s actually a fairly straightforward explanation: it’s an archaic dative expression. Strange as it may seem, the […]

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Grammar, Usage 32 Replies to “Why Is It “Woe Is Me”?”
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