You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

Rubbish you were taught: the lot

The Baltimore Sun

A goodly bit of what people are told is "proper English" amounts to no more than an accumulation of shibboleths and fetishes, crotchets promulgated by self-appointed grammarians that lodged in bad pedagogy but have been repeatedly exploded by actual authorities.  In the "Rubbish you were taught" series of videos at Baltimoresun.com, I picked fifteen of the most common specimens. Links to the whole series are below, but if you look for them at The Sun' s and my Facebook pages, or my Twitter links at @johnemcintyre, you can view them without incurring a subscription charge.  Before you accuse me of despoiling all that is good and true and noble in our English tongue, I ask you to consider this: I have chosen to expose fifteen zombie rules out of the multitude of actual rules and useful distinctions in English. You may pride yourself in having mastered these zombie rules, but to the extent that you are focused on them in writing and editing, you are wasting your time on things that don't matter and very likely neglecting things that actually contribute to accuracy, precision, and clarity. 

 

Video 1:  “None” only as a singular  

 

Video 2: “Hopefully”

 

Video 3: No prepositions at the end of sentences 

 

Video 4: “That” and “who”

 

Video 5: “Literally” 

 

Video 6: Beginning sentences with “and”

 

Video 7: “Data” only as a plural 

 

Video 8: “Over/more than”

 

Video 9: “Loan” as a verb

 

Video 10: “Convince/persuade”

 

Video 11: “Since" for "because” 

 

Video 12: “Decimate”

 

Video 13: Split infinitive

 

Video 14: Split verb

 

Video 15: Singular “they”

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