Why Grammar Grumbles?

Let’s just say it. Those people whose grammatical acumen stops at the 12 items or less line are annoying: just enough knowledge to be dangerous, and the worst kind of pseudo-grammarian, hoping to make themselves feel better by isolating those who make different choices from them. On the other hand, though, they are correct in their, well, identification of incorrectness.

Grammar at its worst is a meaningless standard that artifacts like me hold on to as a way to make ourselves feel better at the expense of others. But that is the last reason that I chart the examples that I chart here. Of course, I am interested in grammatical correctness. But I also understand the relationship between grammatical correctness and clarity or meaning, i.e. incorrectness rarely obscures clarity, which ultimately is the goal of language (over correctness).

So why the grumbles? Simple. Grammar is fun. It’s fun to know the rules (that, let’s be honest, not many people know) but also fun to learn how much more there is to know, or how much even someone like me (who knows a lot about grammar) doesn’t know. Or, even better, to learn that some of the rules that even eclipse the knowledge of the 12 items or less crowd (not saying much) can’t work or don’t work (see: restrictive vs. non-restrictive clauses with a preposition).

Ultimately, the site strives to keep grammar in the conversation, to provide a forum to both see examples and discuss the inherent ambiguities in any grammar. Because it’s that ambiguity that keeps it fun and interesting. (And, yes, that last sentence is a fragment. And, yes, I split an infinitive in the sentence before that one.)

Plus, the best (really, only) way to address grammatical correctness is to activate one’s monitor, that voice inside that automatically identifies something as not quite right. By hearing multiple examples that are real from (pseudo-)important sources, it is hoped that one’s monitor can at least be primed, if not activated.


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