December 30, 2006
Total number of comments
Total number of votes received
fewer / less
- May 7, 2014, 2:35pm
Just by discussing the (entirely unfounded) grammatical relationship of "less" to "fewer", we are playing into the hands of the language pedants.
fewer / less
- May 5, 2014, 3:51pm
Make that "just another way" not "just an another way".
fewer / less
- May 5, 2014, 3:47pm
Until the late 18th Century, "less" was simply the opposite of "more" and "fewer" (the comparative of "few") was just an another way of expressing a similar meaning to "less" but with countable nouns.
But the two co-existed; you could have "less coins" (the opposite of having "more coins") or "fewer coins". The fewer/less argument results from deliberate and relentless "schoolmastering": engineering a false relationship between two entirely different words where none previously existed.
- May 3, 2014, 3:08pm
And now there's "dronie":
- September 24, 2013, 10:23am
"There is a distinct difference between emphasizing something and over-emphasizing, for example. Or working and over-working. Is there a distinct difference between simplistic and over-simplistic? No, both indicate that something is too simple an approach or explanation or solution, etc. The 'over' is redundant (like saying something is 'over over-simple')."
I sense we're no longer talking grammar here (there is nothing ungrammatical about "over-simplistic") but rather style - a highly subjective area indeed.
In my view, redundancy is an issue of style, not grammar.
He and I, me and him
- September 18, 2013, 5:28am
"It's sad to see you've slipped into the same insulting mode as Over50guy"
Yes, people's interest in language generally takes one of two paths, as you know: those interested in learning how language actually works and those only interested in how they think it ought to work.
“The plants were withered” Adjective or passive?
- September 18, 2013, 5:21am
"@JJM - It doesn't matter for native speakers in the course of normal conversation or writing. But it might matter to jayles and I as EFL teachers if one of our students asked us to explain. It would also seem to help jayles understand why his Korean students are making certain errors.
And it might also matter to those native-speaker students, especially in the States, whose work is marked down for including the passive, simply because their teacher can't tell the difference between a passive and an adjective."
The list of examples are almost emblematic of a major fault in language training: the use of short context-free phrases to "prove" grammatical principles. The statement "The plants were withered" by itself, with no indication whether (for example) someone has just stumbled over a pot of dead vegetation or too much sun caused the withering makes the grammar wholly ambiguous. In other words: easier to say than to explain.
- September 18, 2013, 5:07am
"I think sometimes people can get a bit too het up about things like tautology and redundancy."
This sort of thing is an age-old* characteristic of language. Speakers double up on words as a means of emphasis. The use of over- + noun/verb is thoroughly unremarkable: over-reaction, overdress, overwork, over-emphasize (!). Why not over-simplistic?
If ... were/was
- August 30, 2013, 11:26am
Good to be back.
“Between you and I...”
"Hypercorrection" it is. Or at least, was.
The hypercorrection originally came about because speakers were vaguely aware that at some point their teachers had hammered something into their heads about the use of "I" rather than "me". Uncertainty and insecurity arising from that dimly remembered hectoring led people to start using "I" by default ("'I' is better English than 'me' or something like that").
But now, I find that the use of "I" this way, i.e., as in "between you and I", is so commonplace and widespread it has almost become accepted usage.