Posts Tagged ‘prescriptivism’

  • Agreeing with grammatical concord

    Posted by on February 01, 2016

    In a post last month about neither was vs. neither were, Liz Potter looked at hundreds of real-life examples from the British National Corpus and found that neither in singular and plural uses occurred about equally often. Reviewing more recent corpus data led her to conclude that the plural use could be gaining the upper […]

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  • Real Vocabulary Quiz, Question 5: is it OK to use the expression “be comprised of”?

    Posted by on January 20, 2016

    Our Real Grammar series showed how the evidence of language in use often undermines or contradicts the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people insist on. In this series on Real Vocabulary, with Scott Thornbury, we’re bringing you blog posts, videos and a quiz that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions about vocabulary. ______________ […]

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  • Neither was or neither were?

    Posted by on January 18, 2016

    Macmillan Dictionaries recently received a query about an example at the entry for the phrase ‘neither … nor …‘. The example was this one: Neither his son nor his daughter were at the funeral. The writer queried the presence of a plural verb in this example, believing this to be incorrect because neither, being singular, […]

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  • Your new favourite slang

    Posted by on January 11, 2016

    When people peeve about words they hate, the same kinds of words crop up repeatedly, such as business jargon, colloquialisms, and slang. Young people are often the main creators and distributors of these new words and phrases. They may use them to signal group identity, as John E. McIntyre writes, or to express themselves or […]

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  • Appraising Pinker’s prescriptions

    Posted by on December 21, 2015

    In September I took the UK Independent to task for publishing a misleading set of ‘words you’re using wrong’. These listicles usually mix legitimate facts with myths, misinformation and pet peeves without much basis in the evidence of how people use English. Instead they rely on fallacy, fancy, bogus rules and dogma to tell people […]

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  • Real Vocabulary Quiz, Question 4: Is it acceptable to talk about “growing a company”?

    Posted by on December 09, 2015

    Our Real Grammar series showed how the evidence of language in use often undermines or contradicts the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people insist on. In this series on Real Vocabulary, with Scott Thornbury, we’re bringing you blog posts, videos and a quiz that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions about vocabulary. ______________ […]

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  • Due to general usage, this phrase is fine

    Posted by on November 23, 2015

    In his short story collection Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris begins a paragraph with this line: ‘Due to his ear and his almost maniacal sense of discipline, I always thought my father would have made an excellent musician.’ To many readers – probably an overwhelming majority – there’s nothing wrong with it. But […]

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  • Real Vocabulary Quiz, Question 2: Is it OK to ask “Can I get a coffee?”

    Posted by on October 21, 2015

    Our Real Grammar series showed how the evidence of language in use often undermines or contradicts the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people insist on. In our new series on Real Vocabulary, with Scott Thornbury, we’re bringing you blog posts, videos and a quiz that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions about vocabulary. […]

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  • Real Vocabulary Quiz, Question 1: When do you say “awesome”?

    Posted by on October 06, 2015

    Our Real Grammar series showed how the evidence of language in use undermines or contradicts many of the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people insist on. In our new series on Real Vocabulary, with Scott Thornbury, we’ll be bringing you blog posts, videos and a quiz that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions […]

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  • Words change, and that’s OK

    Posted by on September 28, 2015

    Many of the bugbears of language purists hinge on what they believe is the incorrect use of particular words. But the meanings and usage of words change all the time: new senses emerge, old ones fade or shift, and senses can vary greatly from one context to another. This month Macmillan Dictionary introduced its Real […]

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