Three Grammar Rules to Break

We were all taught some so-called unbreakable grammar rules.  But language changes–it grows by adopting and creating new words, and it also shrinks by discarding old rules that are no longer useful or make sense.  Here are some of them:

1. Never start a sentence with And or But.  Why not?  You can start a sentence with any word in the language.  What makes these two words different?  Nothing.

2.  Never end a sentence with a preposition.  Again, this makes no sense.  If it sounds better to put your preposition at the end, feel free.  Otherwise, you might end up with a sentence like, “With whom was that person I saw you?”  We are all more comfortable with “Who was that person I saw you with?”

Want to hear a prepositional phrase joke?  (You didn’t know one existed, did you?)

A young woman who lived in the South was invited by her Harvard boyfriend to fly to Cambridge and attend a fancy party.  She was all a-twitter, and being a very friendly person, at the party she sat next to a Muffy or a Buffy and started talking to her.  Soon she asked M (or B), “Can you tell me what this fork is for?”

M (or B) sneered at her and condescendingly said, “Up here, we don’t end sentences with prepositions.”

The Southern belle then said in her sweetest Southern accent, “Oh, I’m sorry!  I am so sorry!  Let me try again:  Can you tell me what this fork is for…………….bitch?!”

3.  Never use the passive voice.   If you want to avoid blaming someone or avoid taking the blame yourself, the passive voice is handy:  Mistakes were made.  The report was misplaced.  One time when you are compelled to use the passive voice is in the following sentence:  I was born in (name your location).  Otherwise, you would have to say My mother bore me in (location).  Weird, right?

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