Notes on A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar

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Chapter 1 – Introduction

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p. 3 

Of course, the small number of controversial points that there are — trouble spots like who versus whom — get all the public discussion in language columns and letters to the editor, so it may seem as if there is much turmoil; but the passions evinced over such problematic points should not obscure the fact that for the vast majority of questions about what’s allowed in Standard English the answers are clear. For example, try writing down the four words the, dog, ran, away in all twenty-four possible orders. You will find that just three orders turn out to be grammatical, and there can be no serious disagreement among speakers as to which they are.

p. 4

Perhaps the most important failing of the bad usage books is that they frequently do not make the distinction we just made between standard vs non-standard dialects on the one hand and formal vs informal style on the other. They apply the term ‘incorrect’ not only to non-standard usage but also to informal constructions. But it isn’t sensible to call a construction grammatically incorrect when people whose status as fully competent speakers of the standard language is unassailable use it nearly all the time. 

p. 9 

Subjects are normally obligatory in declaratives but are usually omitted in imperatives.

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Written by drpage

February 15, 2009 at 10:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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