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Bad Grammar or Language Change? What is happening to the English language. NBC Nightly News recently aired a criticism of English speakers, accusing us of misusing the grammar of the language.
This is a criticism we have heard from editors, publishers, and readers for at least years. But is it fair? Are we battering English grammar or is English grammar simply changing, as all languages do, over time? Linguists have been struggling with this question for ages.
Take, for example, the plural number in English. English traditionally distinguishes one or more objects by a distinct form, the plural, e. Lately, however, a series of problems has arisen in the language that suggests this distinction is in trouble. For example, have you heard people say things like this: A large amount of pigeons flew by We found less pigeons than we expected English once distinguished nouns referring to substances that are always in the singular by using amount for singular substances and number for countable objects in the plural: A large amount of Kool-Aid, ambition, coffee, or crawfish gumbo A large number of pigeons, bullwhips, armadillos, or blueberry pies The same distinction was made by less and fewer.
Less was used only if the noun were uncountable: Fewer was applied to countable objects: This distinction, too, seems to be swooshing out the window these days. Is that a natural or unnatural process?
One final bit of evidence. Kay Bock, one of the nation's leading psycholinguists, has been researching the plurals of nouns and finding that we are confusing singular and plural more and more.
In English, the noun that is the subject of a sentence agrees with its verb. Roughly, if the noun has an the plural -s on it, the verb doesn't The pigs run but if the noun doesn't have one is singularthe verb does The pig runs.
What Professor Bock is finding is that agreement is not always between the subject noun and the verb, as grammar dictates, but between the noun nearest the verb, whatever its function in the sentence.
A rootery of pigs were running through the barnyard. As the problem of rooting pigs grow, we have to address them. In these sentences, the subject nouns are group and problem, so the verb should contain the -s: A rootery of pigs was running through the barnyard.
As the problem of rooting pigs grows, we have to address it. What Bock is finding, is that agreement is often between the verb and the nearest noun to it, which is not necessarily the subject of the sentence. She thinks language is changing but such sentences sound a lot like bad grammar.
By the way, this has nothing to do with the difference between British and US English, where the British use the plural with what linguists call 'collective nouns' as opposed to our use of rootery above: The Parliament are in session The crew are on alert The team play well together.
The British are consistent in this usage. In the US it seems that our grasp of the sense of plurality is diminishing and, if that is the case, we could see the plural disappear from the language in a relative short linguistic period—perhaps, fewer than years!Grammar: Using articles Articles are used to indicate whether a noun refers to a specific or a general item.
The rules for using articles in English are quite complex, so for students whose first language is not English. English Grammar Articles - Definite Article & Indefinite Article Articles: There are two types of articles in the English language: the definite article (the) and the indefinite article (a, an).
Try the following practice exercises on definite and indefinite articles. A recent article by China Daily discussed that many English language centers are now offering specialized adult classes such as "how to conduct a meeting or interview in English." The average age of these classes ranges from 18 - year-olds looking to develop their careers.
Jun 29, · The standards for racially offensive language are shifting. One word shows how. Changing the way people think about teaching Writing, Spelling, Reading, and Thinking Riggs News. The Riggs Institute Blog.
RSS to subscribe 28 Rules For English Spelling. The letter q is always written with u and we say, "kw." The letter u is not a vowel here. EnglishClub: Learn English: Grammar: Grammar Vocabulary Grammar Vocabulary. This is a short list of grammar terms and defitions.
We have a longer list of grammar terms here.. active voice In the active voice, the subject of the verb does the action (eg They killed the .