Posts Tagged ‘realgrammar’

  • There are plurals, and then there’s plurals

    Posted by on March 07, 2016

    Last month I gave an overview of grammatical agreement, also called concord, and explained the difference between two main types of it: formal agreement and notional agreement. In this post I focus on a common phrase that exemplifies the difference: there is, where there is known as a dummy, existential, introductory, or anticipatory subject. There […]

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  • 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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  • 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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  • Language, logic, and Lewis Carroll

    Posted by on September 14, 2015

    One of the joys of reading Lewis Carroll lies in his treatment of logic – the wonderful mixture of care and irreverence with which he manipulates the everyday rules and conventions through which we make sense. As a mathematician who wrote books on logic, Carroll seems to have delighted in playing around with it in […]

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  • 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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