4 Pieces of Debated Grammar
There are many things in the written English language that make the French Revolution look mild. All you have to do is mention specific topics and stand back to watch the fireworks. Why? Because there are good grounds for each argument. Sometimes, it is a tradition. Sometimes it is the fact that there is a rule, and some people are stuck on rules.
No matter what, here are four grammar rules that are highly debated.
The Oxford Comma
This is one that I can get pretty heated over. I don’t understand the debate. It should be simple.
I had to run to the store for apples, sugar, milk, butter, and eggs.
I had to run to the store for apples, sugar, milk, butter and eggs.
Many people, including experts, feel that a comma should not go before the ‘and’. The commas replace the ‘and’. To a degree, I concur, but…..
If you don’t put the comma in, the items listed aren’t what you think they are. Let’s look at the list in the first sentence:
Now let’s look at it in the second sentence:
butter and eggs
What are butter and eggs? I’ve never seen that item in the store. Now I’ve seen butter and I’ve seen eggs, but nothing that is butter and eggs. New frozen breakfast dish? What is it?
The comma is not the ‘and’ so much as distinguishing the separate items in the list. It’s a directional signal. Don’t mix us literary travelers up!
Quotation Marks and Punctuation
When it comes to quotation marks and the various types of punctuation used at the end of a quoted piece, there is a very large debate. It’s one that I dive into constantly.
If I’m quoting from a text, I need to use quotation marks around the words I’m using verbatim. Let’s use this example from CNN.com:
At first, the most ambitious attempt ever to create a new multinational currency all seemed to go so well. The predicted problems with banks and vending machines never materialized. The euro surpassed the dollar in value. The launch was hailed as a success. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/06/europe/greece-how-did-we-get-here/index.html)
Let’s say I want to quote a part of the first line: It has been reported that this is “the most ambitious attempt ever to create a new multinational currency”. What I just did is the fire of this heated debate. I put the period outside the closing quotation marks. Many people say it should go inside. I object! Why? Because the period was not part of the original quote.
I was always told that you only put inside the quotation marks exactly what you are quoting. In this case, I’m not quoting the period. It wasn’t there originally. I only put inside the marks what I am taking from the source.
Real Words - Irregardless
I will admit that I never fully realized that ‘irregardless’ was not a real word because it is used so much. Or is it a real word because of that?
Technically speaking, you never have to say ‘irregardless’. The word ‘regardless’ says exactly what you mean to say when you add the ‘ir’ in front of the word. But over the last few decades, maybe even the last century, we have changed that and given the words new definitions.
So, is it a real word? If you are a purist, no. If you are one who things you should easily adapt language to the times, then yes.
Sentences Ending with Prepositions
I was raised never to end a sentence with a preposition. I followed the rule, but it didn’t seem right. We spoke with the preposition at the end, so it was natural we wrote that way. Now the rule has changed. You can technically write a preposition at the end of a sentence, but some people feel that is still wrong.
He turned to see what I was looking at.
I had to know what he wanted it for.
These two sentences end with a preposition. This used to be incorrect, but now it is accepted. What do you think?
What is your stance on these rules? Do you agree in breaking them? Or do you stick with the rules? Share your thoughts.