Category Archives: Grammar

Five Grammar Rules (for You to Poop on)

Ah, there can be no more promising start to an article than a reference to the Insult Comic Dog.  This blog is both hilarious and timely!

Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog“Joanna has a great grasp of current pop culture…FOR ME TO etc. etc.”

Anyway, to business.

If there’s one thing my years as an SAT/ACT grammar tutor taught me, it’s that the English language has a lot of rules.  If there’s a second thing it taught me, it’s that I knew precisely none of them.  Thanks to a nifty phenomenon called Universal Grammar, I had been able to understand and use proper English without ever explicitly learning how.  Consequently, my first day teaching was spent alternately mumbling: “So that’s what a participle is!” and refusing repeated requests for refunds.

Violent studentKid, if your parents are rich enough to pay for a private tutor, they’re rich enough to pay me to fart around on for forty-five minutes.

I know English grammar inside and out now, of course.  Four years spent drilling kids in preparation for a bullsh*t standardized test will do that to a person.  But as I picked up the rules, I happened to pick up something else: the realization that some of what we’re taught in English class is absolute crap that can and should be ignored.  For example…

1. “Don’t end a sentence in a preposition.”
We can blame Latin for this one.  Once upon a time, English had a perfectly functional native grammar that allowed speakers to use terminal prepositions with impunity.  Then a bunch of jumped-up Classicists got a hold of it, furrowed their brows and declared: “Nah, bruh.  Latin.

Roman bath houseYou love the Classical period so much, why don’t you, uh…do whatever the hell it is they’re doing in this picture? (from

But Latin is not English and never will be.  For starters, English is a Germanic language, not a Latin/Romance one.  Furthermore, the practice of grafting Latin rules onto an English framework was based in the misguided belief that Latin was pure–at least, purer than whatever mouth-farts the Anglo-Saxons had been lobbing at each other.  You can see why that’s an arbitrary and chauvinistic justification.

2. “Don’t split your infinitives.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, "Don't split your infinitives."Darling, I love you, but I will throw down over this one. (from

This one also comes to us courtesy of the Classicists, who never met a Latin rule they wouldn’t take to bed and press against their clammy loins.  The most famous example of a split infinitive occurs in the opening narration of Star Trek: “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

“Actually,” the fussy prescriptive grammarian pipes up, “it should be: ‘Boldly to go,’ or ‘To go boldly!'”  To which I respond: “Boldly go on this!” while extending my middle finger.  Everybody laughs and high-fives me.  I am finally popular.

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