Let’s stop perpetuating grammar myths

I’ll admit, I’m an easy target for “grammar mistakes you need to stop making” lists, but they’re starting to get on my nerves. The latest one I saw — 15 Common Grammatical Errors That Drive You Completely Insane (on Buzzfeed, of course) — started strong, with “your/you’re” and subject-verb disagreement. But then, at No. 3, was…

Don’t sweat it: Due to / because of

Earlier this year, I gave a presentation called “Sweat This, Not That: Real Rules vs. Grammar Myths” at the American Copy Editors Society national conference. The point of the presentation was that it’s easy for editors to get hung up on “rules” of language that are nothing more than peeves, shibboleths or outdated rules –…

Style and grammar, or why lots of things aren’t ‘wrong’

Originally posted on Grammar Monkeys on June 4, 2012. What do we talk about when we talk about grammar? Strictly speaking, grammar is the unique patterns of a language, the system of how speakers can put together words and sentences. Grammar encompasses morphology (how to form words), syntax (how to form sentences) and semantics (what words…

Nutty non-rules of grammar

Originally posted on Grammar Monkeys on April 18, 2011. Recently I got a voice mail message from a reader saying that the verb “rise” could be used only with animate subjects, and thus our headline “Speed limit may rise to 75 mph” was incorrect, and it should have said “Speed limit may be raised to…