Category: Grammar

September 25, 2012

It’s All Grammar—So What?

It’s a frequent complaint among linguists that laypeople use the term grammar in such a loose and unsystematic way that it’s more or less useless. They say that it’s overly broad, encompassing many different types of rules, and that it allows people to confuse things as different as syntax and spelling. They insist that spelling, […]

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Grammar, Semantics, Usage, Words 9 Replies to “It’s All Grammar—So What?”
August 7, 2012

The Data Is In, pt. 2

In the last post, I said that the debate over whether data is singular or plural is ultimately a question of how we know whether a word is singular or plural, or, more accurately, whether it is count or mass. To determine whether data is a count or a mass noun, we’ll need to answer […]

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Grammar, Semantics, Usage, Words 15 Replies to “The Data Is In, pt. 2”
April 18, 2012

Grammar and Morality

Lately there’s been an article going around titled “The Real George Zimmerman’s Really Bad Grammar”, by Alexander Nazaryan. I’m a week late getting around to blogging about it, but at the risk of wading into a controversial topic with a possibly tasteless post, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the arguments […]

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Editing, Grammar 7 Replies to “Grammar and Morality”
March 4, 2012

Rules, Evidence, and Grammar

In case you haven’t heard, it’s National Grammar Day, and that seemed as good a time as any to reflect a little on the role of evidence in discussing grammar rules. (Goofy at Bradshaw of the Future apparently had the same idea.) A couple of months ago, Geoffrey Pullum made the argument in this post […]

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Descriptivism, Grammar, Prescriptivism, Usage 10 Replies to “Rules, Evidence, and Grammar”
February 21, 2012

Here’s You a Benefactive Dative

Yesterday I heard an interesting construction that I’ve only heard of once before. Several months ago a coworker of mine was talking about a family reunion she’d been to, at which one of her cousins had offered her an apple and said, “Here’s you an apple.” I’d never heard anything like it before, but I’d […]

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Grammar, Varieties of English 18 Replies to “Here’s You a Benefactive Dative”
January 11, 2012

More on That

As I said in my last post, I don’t think the distribution of that and which is adequately explained by the restrictive/nonrestrictive distinction. It’s true that nearly all thats are restrictive (with a few rare exceptions), but it’s not true that all restrictive relative pronouns are thats and that all whiches are nonrestrictive, even when […]

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Descriptivism, Grammar, Prescriptivism, Usage, Words 13 Replies to “More on That
October 1, 2007

The Passive Voice Is Corrected by Buzzword

I was just reading this article about Adobe’s new online word processor, and something caught my eye. In the screenshot, there’s a sentence that’s highlighted, and a bubble in the margin says, “Passive wording fixed.” First of all, it makes me groan to think that so many people still think that the passive voice is […]

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Grammar, Usage 3 Replies to “The Passive Voice Is Corrected by Buzzword”
August 5, 2007

Grammar quiz

From time to time, websites such as MSN and Yahoo challenge their readers to quizzes on grammar, spelling, and punctuation. These quizzes are often written more to stump than to educate, so the questions are worded in confusing ways, and the answers are masked in vagueness to the point where even those who know the […]

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Editing, Grammar, Usage, Words 7 Replies to “Grammar quiz”
February 12, 2007

In the Order It Was Received

I was on hold just now, listening to the prerecorded voice tell me every thirty seconds that my call would be answered in the order it was received, and I wondered what the heck was going on in the grammar of that sentence. In colloquial English, there would be an “in” at the end, and […]

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Grammar, Usage 8 Replies to “In the Order It Was Received”
January 2, 2007

Editing Chicago

Those who have worked with me before may remember that I was once nicknamed “The Index to The Chicago Manual of Style” (or just “The Index” for short) because I always knew where to find everything that anyone needed to look up. I’ve always been a fan of the big orange book. It is so […]

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Editing, Grammar, Rants 7 Replies to “Editing Chicago”
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