Grammar Rules May Be Out of Style
By Christa Skousen - 4 Dec 2006
Students stress over grades and primp communication skills all in hopes of preparing for the future, but staying up-to-date on grammar rules as they evolve can be a difficult task.
Christopher Rogers, a junior from Springville majoring in Middle Eastern studies, Arabic and editing, said he realizes grammar proficiency is important, but it continues to be a challenge for him.
"I may not agree with die-hard grammarians, but I do believe that knowing how to speak and write according to grammatical rules is important for success," he said.
But articulate speech isn't just a concern for students. There is a demand for grammar publications worldwide. The punctuation guide "Eats, Shoots and Leaves," by Lynne Truss was a No. 1 New York Times best seller and sold more than 3 million copies.
Yet a grammar book today may look somewhat different from the copy sitting on your grandmother's shelf. English is an evolving language, and many experts agree it is high time to toss a few old rules out the window.
"I think 'whom' is on the way out, and I say good riddance," said Bill Walsh, a copy chief for the Washington Post, via e-mail. "Except in something like 'for whom the bell tolls,' 'who' works just fine."
Walsh said he is also rooting for the singularization of the sexless plural pronoun. Currently the phrase "everyone should do their homework" isn't grammatically correct. In this particular instance, "his" would be the traditional answer, but a greater awareness of sexism has rendered that not such a good option.
"'His or her' is clunky. 'Her' is patronizing. 'Their' is the only sensible solution, but I'm duty-bound not to use it - yet," he said.