Save our children from the Grammar Tribe


Similarly, “dived” is the traditional past tense of “dive”, but “dove” has overtaken it, as speakers have drawn an analogy with “drove” and “wove”. At some stage, like “stopt” – the old past tense of “stop”, common as recently as the 1940s – “dived” may be obsolete. When will we start to dock points for “dived”? The playful Americanism “snuck” is replacing “sneaked”; will that be allowed?

This isn’t nitpicking. The language changes with surprising speed, and there is no perfect form which we can hold modern usage up against. What’s more, many people hold passionate, but incorrect, beliefs about grammar, such as that it is wrong to split infinitives, use “none” in a plural form, or end sentences on propositions – strange shibboleths that have nothing to do with how English is actually used, but are intended to mark the writer out as a member of the Tribe of Grammar People. There is a risk, therefore, that children will be marked down for using perfectly good English, such as “none of them are ready” or “to boldly go where no one has gone before”. If children are going to be punished for using English badly, we need to be damn sure that the people marking them know what they mean by using English well. —Save our children from the Grammar Tribe – Telegraph Blogs.

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