I think one or the other of us has written posts on the subject of dying grammar and punctuation, but I don’t remember what they were or what we said.
So I’ve started a new category called “dying grammar and punctuation.”
Dangling modifiers are a major category of dying grammar; I see them constantly and am even hearing them on news programs as well.
Today I came across another category that I’m pretty sure is fading: possessive pronouns in front of gerunds, as in “do you mind my sitting here” versus “do you mind me sitting here.”
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Here’s another candidate for a rule that will be gone in 20 years: the distinction between “its” and “it’s.” Everywhere, even in published material, the latter seems to be displacing the former.
And what with basal ganglia and contagious speech patterns, we’re probably all subconsciously learning to favor “it’s”. The more often we favor it (it’s), the more often we favor it.
One could even make a grammatical case for this displacement–one that doesn’t invoke the French! Possessive nouns get the apostrophe (“the cat’s pajamas”), so why not possessive pronouns*?
*In fact, we already have one pronoun that does get an apostrophe: “one”, as in “one should mind one’s ps and qs.”
Another 20 years from now, comma splices won’t be comma splices.
They’ll just be commas.
That’s my prediction.
Twenty years from now comma splices will be correct because:
a) no one under the age of 30 (or thereabouts) knows what they are
b) no one over the age of 30 (or thereabouts) has any idea how to teach them.
Also, comma splices don’t exist in French.
The French have a whole Académie dedicated to “fix[ing] the French language, giving it rules, rendering it pure and comprehensible by all,” yet they don’t have a rule that says Don’t use a comma to join two independent clauses.
Well, I say: If French people don’t have to care about comma splices, neither do we.
Participles that may be on their way out
Speaking of non-standard participle use, here are three I think are probably disappearing:
- Run – being replaced by “ran,” as in “I had ran”
- Swum – being replaced by “swam,” as in “I had swam”
- Become – being replaced by “became,” as in “I had became”
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