Zombie Rules Grammar

Be careful not to confuse the “zombie rules” with “the version of English used by those in power, and you`d better learn how to use this version of English if you want to gain power and wealth in this country.” I have always explained to my students that I teach them the dialect of English (with all its rules), which is usually required in business and academia if they want to succeed, but that in a personal conversation, there is no need to speak or write this way as long as one can be understood. I believe it is a disservice NOT to teach the above rules as long as you let students know why you are teaching them. Zombie grammar rules are the so-called “laws” of language that were no longer or never valid. But like the undead, they refuse to lie down and die, continuing to haunt those of us who work in newsrooms, probably until we die ourselves. But people may like grammar and not be about it. Inflexibility and rigid adherence to “rules” in all situations are probably your best ways to show how little you know about language. Let us try not to use our knowledge to hurt or exclude others. Let`s try to be kind, share our knowledge generously, and open ourselves to the idea that we have a lot to learn. These rules must disappear, especially because they can limit your writing and really affect the color and effect of a text. And yet, there are those of us who would cling to it for the rest of our lives.

We`re going to take a look at five of the most popular zombie rules to defeat right now. But is it possible that we have already been taught zombie rules (keyword doomy music)? It`s one of those rules “sounds good in Latin, something mental in English.” The best way to explain this is with an example. What would you rather say: In this new series, I`m going to go over some zombie rules you may have unknowingly learned and arm yourself to kill those zombies forever. Consider not so much getting rid of beloved rules, but relieving your writing of unnecessary burdens. Where does this zombie rule come from? Merriam-Webster says that in the 1600s, an obscure grammarian named Joshua Poole claimed this “rule” in his book The English Accidence. A few decades later, poet John Dryden popularized it when he shamed a fellow poet for ending sentences with prepositions. Poole and Dryden were probably trying to make English behave like Latin; In Latin, sentences cannot end in prepositions and always have meaning. At the beginning of the 20th century, this zombie rule was abandoned by experts in grammar and usage. (This rule might actually be more “boogeyman” than “zombie” because it was never really based on facts.) You should never use between to refer to more than two things, says this zombie. Break down the word into its components and you get bi-, which means “of”, and tweonum, which means “two each”. So of course, only two can be used in between! Other times, people want to “improve” English and impose a rule on language. Eighteenth-century grammarians had a great case of “English is rubbish unless it looks like Latin” and created many rules for English.

These rules have been repeated, generation after generation, without thinking about the reasoning or the source. Then our beloved elementary school teachers picked them up, and you can see where it took us. Where does this zombie rule come from? Merriam-Webster speculates that schoolgirls of yesteryear are responsible for creating this “rule” to “prevent children from stringing together endless lists of clauses or phrases.” It`s really impressive to see how this zombie continues to stagger. How can we get such rules? Sometimes well-meaning people, like our beloved elementary school teachers, pass on a narrow grammar rule or stylistic guideline as a rough rule and apply it ruthlessly. Our malleable young spirits form around this rule and fix it forever. It seems that zombies are everywhere. There`s the romantic comedy Warm Bodies. AMC`s television series The Walking Dead has just completed its third season. The CDC even launched a zombie watch campaign. And Millbrook Press` recent Zombie Makers (cover photo) shows that some zombie-like creatures actually exist in the wild and aren`t limited to the pages of science fiction books. (Shudder!) It`s a little tome.

Only 51 pages. But it contains pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about grammar, but didn`t know you didn`t need to know. So we have to be aware that there will always be zombie rules. Just like in the movies, as soon as one “zombie” is sent, another appears in its place, but we also need to keep an eye out for outdated rules so that we can properly inform our customers about which rules to use and which to lose. Zombie rules can cause a lot of confusion among writers, reviewers, and editors. Not only do they encourage a bold or elitist approach to language use, but they can also lead to disagreements between word smiths (which, to be fair, is never that difficult). To celebrate this scary season, we`re dusting off our three favorite zombie rules to help you avoid falling prey to these undead guidelines that must disappear. Midwest warning: There is an end-of-sentence preposition frowned upon by most grammarians: “at”; as in: “Where is he?” This is a grammatical error because the preposition is useless in this usage.

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