Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top Five Grammar Myths

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

Last year I was honored to be chosen as MacMillan Publishing’s Mighty Mommy podcast host. Each week I write a parenting column and also record it as a podcast.  In the 7 months that I have had this amazing writing job, I have had the privilege of reaching many thousands of readers and listeners. 

In addition to interacting with my reader base, I am also fortunate to be working alongside some extremely talented writers who share their expertise on everything from training dogs to figuring out the latest technical gadgets. One of our most popular hosts is my colleague, Mignon Fogarty, also known as Grammar Girl. Mignon Fogarty is the creator of Grammar Girl and the founder and managing director of Quick and Dirty Tips. A magazine writer, technical writer, and entrepreneur, she has served as a senior editor and producer at a number of health and science web sites. Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. I read her columns often.

Today I am going to share one of my favorite lessons from Grammar Girl’s plethora of great writing tips—The Top Five Grammar Myths. For more information, you can check her out at

Grammar Girl is a wonderful reference for writers regardless of their experience. 

1. You shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition. Wrong! You shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition when the sentence would mean the same thing if you left off the preposition. That means "Where are you at?" is wrong because "Where are you?" means the same thing. But there are many sentences where the final preposition is part of a phrasal verb or is necessary to keep from making stuffy, stilted sentences: “I'm going to throw up,” “Let's kiss and make up,” and “What are you waiting for” are just a few examples.

2. You shouldn't split infinitives. Wrong! Nearly all grammarians want to boldly tell you it's OK to split infinitives. An infinitive is a two-word form of a verb. An example is "to tell." In a split infinitive, another word separates the two parts of the verb. "To boldly tell" is a split infinitive because “boldly” separates “to” from “tell.” 

3. It's incorrect to answer the question "How are you?" with the statement "I'm good." Wrong! “Am” is a linking verb and linking verbs should be modified by adjectives such as “good.” Because “well” can also act as an adjective, it's also fine to answer "I'm well," but some grammarians believe "I'm well" should be used to talk about your health and not your general disposition. 

4. You use “a” before words that start with consonants and “an” before words that start with vowels. Wrong! You use “a” before words that start with consonant sounds and “an” before words that start with vowel sounds. So, you'd write that someone has an MBA instead of a MBA, because even though “MBA” starts with “m,” which is a consonant, it starts with the sound of the vowel “e”--MBA. 

5. “I.e.” and “e.g.” mean the same thing. Wrong! “E.g.” means "for example," and “i.e.” means roughly "in other words." You use “e.g.” to provide a list of incomplete examples, and you use “i.e.” to provide a complete clarifying list or statement.
Have you ever read any of Grammar Girl’s articles or books?  Let me know in the comment section.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. On all but one. As an old-school writer and a woman whose sons call her the the Grammar Nazi, (My standards did them well. They both can write.) I just cannot split an infinitive.

    One of our sons has the career goal of becoming a writer, and no, we did not discourage him. He is currently in Los Angeles studying comedy. He and I have a running argument about this "rule." He's with you.

    We also argue about two spaces after a period. He claims that the new rule is one, a space saver. I can't get past that one, either.