We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Last week I wrote about the erroneous conjugation of the verb to dive, in which many people use dove for the past tense. I still have not received an answer as to whether or not these same people use diven for the past participle, but I did receive several comments about the fact that dove has been used so commonly that it has been accepted as a correct word for the past tense of to dive.
I grew up in an era when grammar, like manners, had rules, and ignoring the rules of either subject brought correction from parents and teachers alike. Because of that, I tend not to like the those behaviors or word usages that have become acceptable just because they have become so common.
Yes, saying "I dove into the pool" is now generally accepted as correct grammar, so feel free to use it. But don’t expect me to join you. I’m sorry. I can’t make myself, any more than I can make myself split an infinitive, which has also become acceptable just because a lot of people do it.
You may promise to never do something, but I can’t. I must promise never to do whatever it is. Too many years of being hammered by my father and my teachers.
Some others you won’t hear me saying, although they have become generally acceptable, are sunk and shrunk as past tenses. I was taught sink, sank, sunk and shrink, shrank, shrunk, and I can’t get over my background here.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that a foolish consistency was the hobgoblin of little minds, so I’ll prove that I don’t have a little mind by confessing one with which I flaunt the old rules all the time. I was taught there’s no such word as snuck. The correct past tense of sneak is sneaked. Okay, if I run into any of my old teachers (and they would be REALLY old by now), I’ll say sneaked. But snuck sounds so much more expressive, I think I’ll continue using it. According to dailywritingtips.com this is perfectly acceptable.
So where do we go with all this business of grammar. I intend to continue posting on correct grammatical usage as I was taught back in the frontier days. For normal conversations or for dialogue in your books, feel free to use the modern updates that I consider to be wrong, but for formal writing or public speaking, I still maintain we’d all be better off and communicate more coherently if we follow the tried and true rules.
How do you feel about my calling things incorrect that have come to be accepted in today’s language? What grammatical misuse bothers you? What particular area of grammar would you like help with? I’d love to hear and help.
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