Believe it or not, there are times when being grammatically correct isn’t the way to go. Those who know me will be shocked if they knew I felt this way. At times, grammar can interrupt the flow and possibly even cause misunderstandings among your readers. Increasingly, previously iron-clad rules are being dropped, and top editors are now embracing new grammatical rules.
The language is constantly evolving and grammar needs to evolve too, to fit with the language and the way people speak. Changes to the language are often greeted with horror at first, but then they’re accepted and the previous rules forgotten. Who remembers that ‘plane was once spelt with an apostrophe? Here are three grammatical sacred cows that have been slaughtered in recent years.
The Government Have Spoken
Technically, a government or any other large institution or company is one entity, even though many people are involved in it. This is why it’s grammatically correct to say, “the government has spoken.” In reality, this sounds quite stilted, and may even cause confusion, particularly if the speaker then goes on to refer to the government as it. These days, it’s acceptable to refer to a large institution as “they” and to say “the government have spoken,” particularly if it’s clear that you’re referring to a group of people within government.
Marley and Me
This cutesy film title isn’t as grammatically incorrect as you might think. It was always drummed into us that when referring to yourself and one other person, you always used “Marley and I” not “Marley and Me.” This has now been dropped, possibly due to a recognition that it’s not possible to stop people using “Marley and Me” or “Myself and Marley.” It’s another one that takes the stodge out of the language.
She Closely Supervised the Team
Previously, the wisdom was always that an adverb was only ever to be used after a verb and at the end of a sentence. Now it can be inserted anywhere in a sentence, which can be useful, because leaving it until the end can feel a bit contrived, and again, contrary to how people speak. In this sentence, it’s much clearer that the words closely and supervised are linked, so the sentence actually flows better.
What grammar rules have you seen change/ Do you think it’s a good idea for grammar to adapt to changes in the language, or should it remain an anchor in a storm of change?
What grammatical rules have you seen disappear? Do you think dropping certain grammatical rules is a good idea, if it ultimately increases understanding and improves communication?