Word Nerd

Understanding Grammar

I think grammar is interesting and useful but I’ve never really considered the question, “Does grammar matter if you’re still understood?”

It can be hard sometimes, when speaking, to remember all of the grammatical rules that guide us when we’re writing. When is it right to say “the dog and me” and when should it be “the dog and I”? Does it even matter? In the video below, Andreea S. Calude dives into the age-old argument between linguistic prescriptivists and descriptivists — who have two very different opinions on the matter.

After watching the video, I still don’t know which side I fall in with most. On the one hand, I was angry when the Oxford Dictionary added a secondary meaning to the word, “Literally” because so many people were using the word to mean its opposite, ‘figuratively.’ That’s a very prescriptivist stance.

Upon further reflection, I can understand the descriptivist’s point that the dictionary should be updated to reflect the way people actually speak. As a teen in the 80s, my generation stretched and expanded the definition of words like “awesome,” and “bad” so that they no longer meant “awe-inspiring” or “bad and unpleasant” to mean something more akin to “great” and “good”

So where do you fit in the spectrum between prescriptivists and descriptivists? Go to my FB Page to weigh in and join the conversation.

Quartknee is an internationally beloved author, storied entertainer, and legendary night-life impresario. He’s also a prominent aesthete and all around tall guy.