The pedants revolt: lament for a golden age of grammar that never existed

A rose by any other name: Shakespeare was quite happy to sign his name Shakspere or Shakspeare
The great grammarian Otto Jespersen, writing in 1909, said English grammar was “not a set of stiff dogmatic precepts, according to which some things are correct and others absolutely wrong”; but was living and developing, “founded on the past” but preparing the way for the future, “something that is not always consistent or perfect, but progressing and perfectible – in one word, human”. Continue reading

On a not very bright grammar test

On a not very bright grammar test

An English-teacher correspondent in the UK writes to tell me a very worrying – but totally to be expected – story emerging from the Key Stage 2 grammar test marking earlier this year. Question 16 asks children to complete the sentence ‘The sun shone ________ in the sky.’ and the mark scheme reads ‘Accept any appropriate adverb, e.g. brightly, beautifully’.

A child presented the answer ‘The sun shone bright in the sky’, and this was marked wrong, on the grounds that it is ‘not an adverb’.<!–more- Continue reading