10 Wrong Grammar Rules Everyone Knows


Don't Preposition Me

A teacher in London tackles prepositions with her Year 5 students. © Eleanor Bentall/Corbis
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.)

Related Articles


  • 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


What's the Difference Between Misogyny and Sexism?

What's the Difference Between Misogyny and Sexism?

The terms sexism and misogyny are often used interchangeably, though they have distinct meanings. HowStuffWorks explains how they're different.