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Last Friday we celebrated the National Grammar Day. But what is bad grammer (sic) and more importantly, good grammar?

Badly spalling [sic] a word is not bad grammer [sic]. It’s being careless.

National Grammar Day is an American invention that first saw the light in 2008. It was invented by Martha Brockenbrough of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

What is it about? It’s about loving grammar. Some say we are destroying it by the use of phonetic shortcuts to mask our lack of verse.

But first, let’s determine what exactly the word grammar means.

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Pedant linguists say that it’s “the whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general, usually taken as consisting of syntax and morphology”.

But the common man says it’s “a set of prescriptive notions about how to use English”.

Technically speaking, grammar is a set of rubber-necked rules defining the ways to combine different words in order to make sentences or accents/intonations; for instance; criterion/ criteria or dove/dived or strove/strived, how to use adverbials etc.

Grammar doesn’t class misspelling as grammatical error.

Technical definition of grammar excludes everything that makes some careful users reach for Prozac.

Things need your about know to you grammar

Your grammar is good enough (i.e. syntax) to put the above in the right order. You are brilliant!

You are against “verbing” nouns (eg “to interface”) is not grammar. We consider it a stylistic preference; purists disagree with barely concealed homicidal thoughts.

Bad speling [sic] a word is not grammer [sic]. It’s laziness or arrogance. Have you ever made a spelling mistake?

If a person born and bred north of Birmingham UK says “it were her fault”, or someone from Wales says “I is done”, it is not bad grammar. It is unusual use, which is not the same.

All new expressions or words are neither good nor bad. You may dislike them, but it’s nothing to do with grammar. You’re with me, bae?

If someone uses “nonplussed” to mean “not fussed or bothered”, that has nothing to do with grammar: it is a word in the process of changing meaning. It was taken from Latin to mean: To put at a loss as to what to think, say, or do; bewilder. But it’s different now.

If you don’t appreciate the way someone pronounces a word, it’s your problem. It’s definitely not grammar.

Grammar interpretation was invented to mark the social status of a person. An early, 1892 quotation about aitch-dropping shows how unjust such divide could/can be: “A very fine young man, but evidently a nobody, inasmuch as he dropped his aitches and so on.” (Rolf Boldrewood, Nevermore, 1892.) To oppose the above, Terry Eagleton says: “Dropping your aitches in Knightsbridge probably counts as a deviation, whereas it is normative in parts of Lancashire.” (How to Read a Poem, 2007.)

If you hear a true Londoner exhale his aitches, (as in I’ll (h)ave (h)alf a pint of bitter, please) please write to me at once.

One particular example illustrates the arbitrariness of pre/proscriptions. American editors get very red in the face if a food, diet, etc is described as “healthy”, insisting that only “healthful” is correct.

The (false) reasoning behind this is that if you define “healthy” as “in good health”, it applies, by definition, only to people. Broccoli cannot be healthy – as far as we know, but then we don’t speak “Broccoli” – enjoy rude good health, and therefore another word is required.

“Healthful” is the older word but “healthy” has meant “conducive to good health” since time immemorial.

Banning it ignores a productive feature of English: the transferred epithet. You can apply “sad” both to people and to what makes them sad.

Many other words behave similarly: to exclude “healthy” would be plain stupid.

By interpreting “grammar” as our entire language system, we celebrate the ingenuity of human psyche in developing it, and the myriad ways in which it contributes to improve social communication.

So let’s be happy that everyone knows the grammar of their mother tongue (or several), even if they can’t formulate its genuine rules.

Who cares what preterit is if you’re used to it and can use it to say what you want?