Posts Tagged ‘prescriptivism’

  • Finding fault in the right places

    Posted by on July 20, 2015

    A common way to discuss what is correct or appropriate or not in English is by pointing out shortcomings in other people’s usage. This practice has a long tradition in language commentary and pedagogy, and while it can be helpful and enlightening, it’s not always constructive. Not only in the sense that people frequently misidentify […]

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  • Reflections on Real Grammar

    Posted by on July 06, 2015

    Macmillan Dictionary’s recent series on Real Grammar included a quiz that explored people’s attitudes and preferences in English language usage. Editor-in-Chief Michael Rundell wrote that the quiz results suggest ‘a sophisticated understanding of how grammatical norms can change over time or can vary according to the social context’, and that most respondents ‘opted for sensible […]

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  • Real Grammar Twitter chat

    Posted by on June 24, 2015

    To bring down the curtain on our Real Grammar series, we held our first-ever live Twitter chat with regular blog contributor Stan Carey this week. In case you missed it, you’ll find some of the highlights below courtesy of Stan’s specially-created Storify which he put together after the event. Just click through the slides to […]

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  • Real Grammar: a few concluding thoughts

    Posted by on June 23, 2015

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In our series of Real Grammar blog posts and videos, we have discussed frequently asked questions about grammar, and provided evidence-based answers. […]

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  • The double passive is suggested to be avoided (sometimes)

    Posted by on June 22, 2015

    In the annals of writing advice the passive voice is subject to much unfair criticism. In non-specialist contexts, such as news journalism and public discussion, the situation is still worse, with misidentification often added to the mix – many people who peremptorily condemn the passive are ignorant of what it is, let alone when it […]

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  • Real Grammar Quiz, Question 10: can I use “however” at the beginning of a sentence?

    Posted by on June 16, 2015

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In this series, we have brought you blog posts and videos that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions about grammar and usage. There’s also […]

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  • Real Grammar Quiz, Question 9: should I say “Can I…” or “May I …”?

    Posted by on May 27, 2015

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In this series, we’ll be bringing you blog posts and videos that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions about grammar and usage. […]

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  • This ever-changing language in which we live in

    Posted by on May 11, 2015

    In a recent post on double negatives I said we make allowances for non-standard grammar in song lyrics – or most of us do, most of the time. But some lines still give us pause. One source of frequent dispute is the Paul and Linda McCartney song ‘Live and Let Die’, famously used in a […]

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  • Real Grammar Quiz, Question 8: can “like” be used as a conjunction?

    Posted by on April 21, 2015

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In this series, we’ll be bringing you blog posts and videos that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions about grammar and usage. […]

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  • Ain’t nothin’ (grammatically) wrong with no double negatives

    Posted by on April 13, 2015

    When Mick Jagger sings that he ‘can’t get no satisfaction’, there’s no confusion over what he means – we know he’s not saying he can get some satisfaction. In a different context, ‘can’t get any satisfaction’ might be better, but we give singers poetic licence when it comes to grammar. We should, anyway. But we […]

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