Sunday, April 28, 2013

Make up your mind

Your Editor here is a longstanding advocate of the idea that many so-called "grammar" arguments -- for example, whether an adverb should or shouldn't go between an auxiliary verb and a main verb -- can be settled in most cases by the toss of a coin. That doesn't mean all grammar arguments are optional, so listen and attend.

It's objectively true that Arsenal and Man Utd played to a tie today, but whether Arsenal are an "it" or a "they" depends on which side of the Atlantic you're on. "United were growing in authority" is a fine clause for the BBC; it wouldn't work here, because American English reads the city (or the university, whatever) as an "it" and the mascot as a "they." Detroit = "it," Tigers = "they," and never the twain shall meet O.

What you can't do is mix and match on the same story in the same time zone, which is the problem with the local paper here*. If you're wondering what verb goes with "plus," start by thinking back to first grade. If "one plus one is two" worked better for you than "one plus one are two," make decisions accordingly. But don't use one on the front and one on the jump. That's cheating.

* Its eagerness to gratify anyone or anything that moves a few jobs into downtown is a different matter.

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