Everyday is Grammer Day


March fourth is not just a pun on march forth, but it's also National Grammar Day, sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

Comments (30)
  1. NTAuthority says:

    You made an error on the post title: ‘grammer day’ is not a grammatical error, as far as I know it’s a spelling error.

  2. Gabe says:

    NTAuthority: What’s wrong with a little mispelling?

  3. Random832 says:

    The use of "everyday" as a noun phrase [rather than "every day"], however, is a grammatical error, so he’s got both angles covered

  4. "Grammer", of course, means "having more grams" – that is, heavier.

  5. Gabe says:

    Maurits: I’m pretty sure that "having more grams" is actually "grammier". No, "grammer" describes "one who grams".

  6. Neil (SM) says:

    I liked the 10 grammar myths from the National Grammar Day page.

    http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/top-ten-grammar-myths.aspx

  7. [ "Grammer", of course, means "having more grams" – that is, heavier. ]

    This could be useful for the next Scrabble game, thank you. :P

  8. Boris says:

    Re: Neil’s link: Really? Irregardless is a word, but "where are you at?" is wrong? Be consistent at least. The "at" at the end of that sentence encourages the other person to use "at" in the answer, thereby serving a legitimate goal of restricting the range of responses. Or, based on intonation, it can be use to express annoyance as if the question was "why aren’t you here yet?"

  9. tomslee says:

    "having more grams" – that is, heavier.

    I think you mean "more heavier".

  10. tomslee says:

    I agree with Boris. The best candidates for "non-standard but approved" language use are regional uses that gain use and have well-known meaning within a well-defined community or geographical area. "Where are you at?" qualifies, like the "Give us a loan of that X" that was used where I grew up. But "irregardless" comes from nowhere and should go back there.

  11. Philip says:

    I sometimes get annoyed at how I get annoyed at grammatical errors. I’ve inadvertently trained myself so that if, for example, I read something that mixes up "its" and "it’s", or "less" and "fewer", I notice it and lose my focus on what the text is actually saying. It’s a useful skill when writing and proofreading, but it’s harmful when trying to simply read.

    The explanation at http://www.stephenfry.com/2008/11/04/dont-mind-your-language…/ makes some sense to me. I have to remind myself that although language contains a collection of technical rules and syntactic constructs, and as much as I like systems of rules, they are not the most important part – language is primarily a tool for communication; and nor are they the most interesting part – language can have an artistic quality in itself. I find it hard to make sure I don’t lose those aspects under the technicalities.

  12. Aaron says:

    On the grammar myths link, and ending sentences with a preposition:

    It is my understanding that this rule, as with the rule for not splitting infinitives, is simply the result of grafting the Grammar of Latin onto English.  In Latin, for instance, infinitives cannot be split because they are a single word.  

    The problem with prepositions isn’t so much that they add an extra word without changing the meaning, but rather that the part of speech called “preposition” consists of both prepositions in the Latin sense and also verbal particles.  Verbal particles can easily be moved around in a sentence without changing the meaning, and can therefore appear at the end of a sentence.  

    For instance, consider the sentence “He locked up the computer.”  In this case, “up” is a verbal particle and as such can move to the end of the sentence without changing the meaning, “He locked the computer up.”

    Conversely, consider the sentence “He walked up the stairs.”  In this case, “up” is a preposition in the traditional Latin sense, and therefore cannot be moved from its traditional position.  If we rewrite the sentence as “He walked the stairs up,” it becomes unnatural and one can see why this form of the sentence would be considered less correct.  It has nothing to do (as far as I know) with whether the preposition is redundant in the context of the sentence.

    [“That’s the one which I looked at.” Here, “at” is a preposition (object is the relative pronoun “which”). The issue is whether this must be rewritten as “That’s the one at which I looked.” -Raymond]
  13. Anonymous says:

    @Aaron

    In addition to Raymond’s comment ("that’s the one I looked at."), keep in mind that prepositions can also be re-ordered if they appear in a question.

    To use your example, "He walked the stairs up" doesn’t make sense, but, "Which stairs did he walk up?" sounds somewhat reasonable.

    To change the subject a bit…  I agree with @tomslee that "Where are you at?" is regional.  This phrase has always bothered me (the "at" just seems to hang out there without any purpose), but I’ve known a lot of people especially from the south who talk like that.  I’m sure where they come from, they all talk comfortably like that irrespective of how it offends my yankee sensibilities.

  14. Gabe says:

    The problem with not ending a sentence with a preposition is that it just doesn’t make sense. There’s just no logical way to refactor sentences like "What are you up to?" and "Which building did they knock down?" such that they don’t end in a preposition, so why have the arbitrary restriction?

  15. Aaron says:

    Raymond and Anonymous,

    I believe the difference there is that the two sentences, while semantically equivalent, have different deep structures (or at least employ a different transformation, leading to a different intermediate structure on the path from deep structure to surface structure).  I think the former has the relative clause “I look at,” in which the verb is “look at” and there is no preposition.  Here, the relative clause directly modifies the subjective compliment, whereas, in the latter, the relative clause is “I look” and the compliment is modified by the prepositional phrase “at which I looked.”

    I haven’t worked it out myself, but I believe if you work backwards from the surface structure for each of those, you will have a similar set of transformations leading back to slightly divergent deeper structures.  

  16. Steve D says:

    I’m the grammiest!  At least I will be when i have finished my grammerisation.  Now where was that left-over cake?

  17. Xenophon says:

    A teacher I knew claimed that March 4 was known at Boston Latin School as Exelaune Day, after a verb one finds frequently in The Anabasis–those hoplites marched a lot, and where did they march? Forth.

    Fowler, in Modern English Usage, treated the "no split infinitives" and "no prepositions at the end of a sentence" shibboleths with little respect.

  18. J says:

    I disagree with Boris.  I’m just not seeing why anyone would give a more specific response to "where are you at" vs "where are you".  They both mean the same thing.

    And I have the opposite perspective concerning intonation.  I think "Where are you" is far more powerful at expressing annoyance when you stress the word "are", whereas "Where are you at" implies a more casual, laid back tone.

    Perhaps that ambiguity is based on regional differences.  Irregardless*, I think it demonstrates why the phrase is fine for speech, but not writing.

    (*I actually hate the word irregardless)

  19. Cheong says:

    You grammer, and I pounder (ponder).

  20. Worf says:

    The grammar faux pas that irks me most is confusing "lose" (didn’t win, object disappeared, etc) with "loose" (not tight).

    They aren’t synonyms. They aren’t homonyms. Yet they’re freely swapped around. Like everyone’s keyboard has a problem with the "O" key.

    Heck, I don’t think it started from Engrish, either.

  21. Pi says:

    Your right. People are stupid/lazy. There grammar mistakes upset me.

  22. Paul says:

    Gabe,

    You are up to what? Or refactor it and replace the "up to" construct entirely: What are you doing?

    They knocked down which building?

  23. Paul says:

    Gabe,

    You are up to what? Or refactor it and replace the "up to" construct entirely: What are you doing?

    They knocked down which building?

  24. bahbar says:

    @Worf,

    Well, as much as it irks me too, the fact that the o in lose is pronounced like the one in loose, instead of the one in dose, hose, nose, pose or rose cetainly does not help foreigners. I certainly made the mistake when I starting learning English.

  25. Aaron says:

    Worf,

    The loose/lose confusion, as bahbar mentioned, likely comes from the inconsistent spelling of the /uː/ phoneme in contemporary English.  

    "Engrish," on the other hand, is a result of the liquids (/ɹ/ and /l/) not being differentiated in some Asian languages.  In such languages, the alveolar lateral flap (‘r’ sound) and the alveolar lateral approximate (‘l’ sound) are essentially considered equivalent.  One can use either sound interchangeably without altering semantic value, though often only /ɹ/ is used.  As a result, when a native speaker learns English, they may have difficulty even hearing the difference between the liquids at first.

  26. Someone You Know says:

    @Gabe

    I would argue that in "Which building did they knock down?" the word "down" is not functioning as a preposition. The verb phrase in this sentence is "knock down", not "knock". There are many phrases like this in English: "chat up", "point out", "screw over", etc.

  27. Gabe says:

    Someone You Know: So are you saying that I am safe in asking "Who did you screw over?" instead of having to ask "Over whom did you screw?" Nice to know!

    The problem is that they say the rule is "don’t end a sentence with a preposition", then they say "a preposition is a word like ‘up’ or ‘over’". The real story is that a preposition is a word that connects other words, and so it is bad form to leave a preposition at the end of a sentence with nothing to connect to. Since words are only prepositions when they function to connect other words, words like ‘up’ and ‘over’ are not always prepositions, and thus can end a sentence when they are not. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be a problem to end a question in a preposition when you are asking what word the preposition connects to.

    To put it another way, prepositions are binary operators. It certainly doesn’t make sense to end an equation with a binary operator! However, some symbols can be both binary operators and unary operators (like – in C), so it’s perfectly fine to end an equation with a unary operator that just happens to be the same symbol as a binary operator. Furthermore, it’s perfectly OK to write an equation like "12 = 7 + ?" because you’re asking what is the second operand for the binary operator.

  28. Someone You Know says:

    @Gabe

    I would take that analogy further. Most modern programming languages use infix notation for binary operators, but using (e.g.) postfix notation instead is logically equivalent and does not change the meaning of the equation. Prepositions are the same way: sticking them at the end does not generally change the meaning of the sentence, provided the word in question is actually being used as a preposition.

    If it isn’t being used as a preposition, but looks like one, that’s analogous to a programming language where some or all of the binary operators are also valid identifiers, which I think we can all agree would be a superbly awful language to have to write a parser for.

  29. Neil (SM) says:

    Gabe:

    I think you must not have read the article. The article itself claimed the rule "Never end a sentence with a preposition," is a myth, for precisely that reason.

    There are some cases where removing the preposition makes no sense.  In those cases it’s perfectly correct to end a sentence that way.  According to the article, the rule only applies to cases where the sentence means the same thing whether or not the preposition is at the end, e.g. "where are you at?"

    My thinking is "where are you at" is more idiomatic and informal, and not to be used for writing.  However, I agree that if you are accepting irregardless and ain’t as real words then you have to accept other informalities as well.

    Although one might argue that while ain’t and irregardless might be real words in the dictionary, they still don’t belong in formal writing.  And neither does "where are you at."

  30. Good Son says:

    The last time someone told me my Grammar was bad got a punch in the nose.  No one talks about my Dad’s Mom like that and gets away with it.  

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