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A grammarian walks into a bar: A National Grammar Day vignette | COMMENTARY

I was having a quiet ale with Mignon Fogarty—a pint of Smithwick’s for me and a gin and tonic for her—when some muttering on the far side of the bar grew louder.

Impactful! Stupid word! Who made it up, anyhow?” He was an older guy with gray hair and a forehead as crimped as an assistant managing editor’s. And he wouldn’t shut up. “We already had perfectly good words without these yahoos making up ugly new ones. It’s not even English!”

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Fogarty stood up, walked around the bar, and spoke firmly into his ear. “It’s a noun turned into an adjective by adding the –ful suffix, a standard pattern in English that led to words like thoughtful, a word not applied to people braying ignorant remarks about language. So give that some quiet thought or you’ll be drinking your Bud Light through a straw.”

He settled up and scuttled out like a columnist fleeing a fact-checker.

Fogarty sat down and took a demure sip of her G&T.

“Grammar Girl takes no prisoners, eh?” I said.

“Damn straight,” she said.

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