10 Wrong Grammar Rules Everyone Knows


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Don't Preposition Me
A teacher in London tackles prepositions with her Year 5 students. © Eleanor Bentall/Corbis

This is a grammar myth that won't die. More specifically, it's a grammar myth that a billion well-meaning know-it-alls won't let die.

Ending a sentence with a preposition -- something like "She's not someone I would go to the batting cage with" -- is perfectly fine. The sentence is clear, and no one would argue its structure. (Although why you wouldn't go to the batting cage with someone is more of a mystery. What will she do to you?!)

So why do we have this idea that ending a sentence with a preposition makes for an inexpert turn of phrase? It makes sense if you're Julius Caesar but probably doesn't apply to you or me. In Latin, ending a sentence with a preposition really was incorrect. In 1762, an Anglican bishop printed a book of grammar and basically co-opted the Latin rule for English. A good try, but English-speaking peoples had been ending sentences with prepositions for ages, and the practice persisted [source: O'Connor and Kellarman].

Author's Note: 10 Wrong Grammar Rules Everyone Knows

Confession: If you had told me fully half of these dictums were hard and fast rules that should never be broken, I would have believed you. On the same note, if you had told me the same rules were all nonsense I would've been equally convinced. While we might have a few days throughout our adolescence of actual grammar education, most of what we learn is through common usage. So let's all give ourselves a break for not knowing it all and accept that our "rules" will no doubt evolve anyway. (But go crazy finding the myriad grammar mistakes in this article.)

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Sources

  • Alford, Henry. "The Queen's English." Strahan and Co.: London. 1846. http://books.google.com/books?id=FqIUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PR3&dq=henry+alford+1864&hl=en&ei=OL1tTMrfFY28sAOo4rT0Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22to%20scientifically%20illustrate%22&f=false
  • Bucholz, Chris. "7 commonly corrected grammar errors (that aren't mistakes)." Cracked. April 24, 2012. (May 29, 2014) http://www.cracked.com/blog/7-commonly-corrected-grammar-errors-that-arent-mistakes/
  • Doyle, Gabe. "Debunked Myths." Motivated Grammar. (May 29, 2014) http://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/debunked-myths/
  • Fogarty, Mignon. "Top ten grammar myths." Quickanddirtytips.com. March 4, 2010. (May 29, 2014) http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/top-ten-grammar-myths
  • Marsh, David. "10 grammar rules you can forget." The Guardian. Sept. 30, 2013. (May 29, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/sep/30/10-grammar-rules-you-can-forget
  • Murphy, Eric. "AP Stylebook seeks to destroy American way of life by accepting 'hopefully.'" Minnesota Daily. April 17, 2012. (May 29, 2014) http://www.mndaily.com/blogs/unfit-print/2012/04/17/ap-stylebook-seeks-destroy-american-way-life-accepting-hopefully
  • O'Conner, Patricia T. and Kellarman, Stewart. "Most of what you think you know about grammar is wrong." Smithsonian Magazine. February 2013. (May 29, 2014) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/most-of-what-you-think-you-know-about-grammar-is-wrong-4047445/?no-ist
  • Owen, Jonathan. "12 Mistakes Nearly Everyone Who Writes About Grammar Mistakes Makes." Huffington Post. Nov. 20, 2013. (May 29, 2014) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathon-owen/grammar-mistakes_b_4312009.html
  • Perlman, Merrill. "Conjunction-itis." Columbia Journalism Review. Nov. 7, 2011. (May 29, 2014) http://www.cjr.org/language_corner/conjunction-itis.php?page=all&print=true
  • Zwicky, Arnold. "However. . ." Language Log. Nov. 1, 2006. (May 29, 2014) http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003723.html

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