Grammar Wednesday

Okay; we’re getting back to the typical Grammar Wednesday format.  Ready?

We’ve been over this one before, but it seems that Kizz feels we must do it again.  I love this explanation she sent me; I can just picture it as a Chalkboard Manifesto, can’t you?

From Texts From Last Night (.com)

(919): Learn some fucking English or leave me alone! “Your” is for something that belongs to you, like ‘your herpes’. And “you’re” is a contraction for “you are”, like “you’re not sleeping with me”.

I would hasten to add here that the punctuation should go inside the quotation marks, and that one of my pet peeves is to start sentences with a conjunction; I would put those two closely related sentences together with a semicolon.  Beyond that, though, I think it’s as good a clarification of the difference between “your” and “you’re” as any.

I just finished assessing my Local U. freshman essays, and by the time it was all over, I had a stack of things to go over with them when we next met.  Chief among these prickly grammar issues is the fact that words like toward, backward, forward, and anyway DO NOT have an ‘s‘ on the end of them.  I don’t know whether putting the ‘s‘ on the end is a regionalism, but ALL of my (native New Englander) students – to a person – were shocked when I gave them the heartbreaking news.  One young man even accused me of forcing him to reconsider his entire view of life, so certain was he that “backwards” was a word.

That’s all for now; I have lesson planning to do.  Oh!  Remind me to tell you a story about Lisa tomorrow!



Filed under bad grammar

10 responses to “Grammar Wednesday

  1. I learned from a native UK-er that the way you advocate with the punctuation is actually a US thing while in the UK the period would go outside the quotation. I like the UK way because it seems WAY more logical to me but I do try to do it the American way since, you know, I live here and all.

  2. I don’t think the added S is a regionalism; I’ve seen it a lot.

  3. Danny

    Ooh, forgive me, but you’re making my descriptivist blood boil!

    The quotation punctuation issue is indeed a regionalism – although I’ll give you this one, because you are teaching in the US, and that’s the standard there.

    However, I’d love to hear your objection to the -wards suffix – the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t share your opinion, giving quotations all the way back to Chaucer, and noting that in most cases the -wards form is (at least nearly) synonymous with -ward. In fact, it suggests that if anything -wards is more common (in British use) in toward/towards.


  4. Danny, don’t boil. I may come off as a grammar Nazi here once a wee, but I’m finding that my association with several linguists (whom I respect and admire greatly) has given me new ways to think about grammar rules. While Grammar Wednesday is often the most hotly debated material I post here, it’s never intended to piss anyone off; I’m coming to understand that grammar is kind of in the eye of the beholder….

  5. twoblueday

    I’ve been going along thinking that “backward,” and “backwards” meant two different things. Silly me.

    I perceived “backward” as being a bit of criticism, as in, “Gerry Rosser went to a small midwestern high school, so we can understand that he’s a bit backward.” (He’s a bumpkin, a rube, a country chawbacon). Maybe there’s a shyness connotation there, too.

    “Backwards” has always seemed directional to me. “Gerry put his shirt on backwards.” “I was walking forward, but looking backwards.” (I don’t think I ever put an “s” on forward).

    For some reason I smell that bumpkin I mentioned above when I hear someone say “anyways.” Is “anyways” ever correct as an alternative to “anyway?”

  6. twoblueday

    Muhammed Ali used to brag (and maybe still does” that he was the “greatest of all times.” It always grated to me. Shouldn’t that be “of all time” without the “s?”

  7. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” I’m not sure, Gerry. I would imagine that, since we like to group time into eras or periods, that there can be more than one of them.

    Oh, and my kids (academic, not biological) say “forwards” quite a lot.

  8. goofy

    “toward” is more common in US English, and “towards” is more common in British English.

    “anyways” meaning “in any case” and “to any degree at all” are mainly found in South and South Midland US English.

    “backwards” seems to be common in the US, as in “bend over backwards”.

  9. Danny

    My blood may have been boiling more in my tongue, which was in my cheek, than anywhere else :p, to horribly mix metaphors.

    I know where you’re coming from. It’s just that whenever I hear a language-related claim without something like ‘in this sort of environment, you should think about doing xyz’ it bugs me!


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