Monday, December 7, 2015

Grammar Nazis Unight... I mean Unite!

Hey, friend, rules are rules!  How could you play sports without rules?  How could we live in civilized society without rules?  How could we build a house without rules?

How can we communicate without rules?

A few weeks back i foolishly got involved with a Facebook argument about split infinitives.  I suggested that good grammar in English requires that we NOT split infinitives.  If your Grammar is a bit rusty, here's an illustration I just found in a colleague's paper:

"It behooves a university for multiple reasons  to not overlook recruitment...".

Changed to "It behooves a university, for multiple reasons, not to overlook recruitment...".

Much to my surprise, a friend who earned a MA in English argued that the split-infinitive rule was a silly rule intended to make English sound better. 

Now, I might expect such defensiveness from a scientist colleague, but from an English major- who teaches the subject to foreigners????   Hmmm.

It seems to me, a mere scientist, that ALL English rules are arbitrary and designed only to help us communicate more clearly.  Whereas, a split infinitive doesn't make a big difference, correct spelling, commas, semicolons, and lots of other English conventions don't really contribute in a major way to communications either.  Though, sometimes they do.

Q: What is Grammar? A: The difference between knowing your crap, and knowing you're crap.



  1. I have become so aware of mistakes since I am editing my own books five or six times before anyone else does. I never find a book that has no mistakes. Beware: I edit yours, too!

  2. (knowing your crap vs knowing you're crap) And to think I come to these posts to get away from my wife's wisdom...ughhh:(

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