I have always held that grammar is black and white, right and wrong, and ultimately that which separates woman from beast. I don’t know what separates man from beast, but that’s best left for a separate post. Grammar, which I once thought of as timeless, is morphing in to New Grammar, and I’ve had no choice but to look at current style guides. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it is now just fine and dandy to end a sentence in a preposition. Like me, you may be asking yourself, how did this come about? Apparently it has been brewing for quite some time. According to http://yourdictionary.com:
“Winston Churchill once reportedly exclaimed, ‘That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!’ to mock someone who criticized him for ending a sentence with a preposition.”
I understand old Winny’s point, but did he really think it through? I mean, when he was kicking around as Prime Minister wasn’t there kind of a lot going on? I’ll give him this, he did win a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Nonetheless, I was grateful that http://yourdictionary.com went on to say:
“it may still be worth revising your sentences to avoid ending them a preposition whenever possible if you wish to reduce the risk of controversy. Since there are still a number of people who believe ending a sentence with a preposition is incorrect, considering your audience’s thoughts on the issue is a wise idea…”
I’m not claiming I am a grammar expert or anything; far from it. For example, I still get confused between which and that, further and farther, punctuation inside or outside quotes and parentheses, and when, I’m using, too many commas. But I do know when an apostrophe comes before or after an s. At least I thought I did, but that’s changed too.
If one was referring to Mama Cass, for example, one might write “that is Mama Cass’ caftan” to indicate the possessive. Nowadays, it appears that the correct use is “that was Mama Cass’s caftan” I know, one pronounces them the same way, but in writing, right is right. At least, before right was wrong. At the end of the day, all I really know is that Mama Cass wore a lot of caftans.
But the thing I learned recently that has troubled me the most is not grammar, but punctuation. If you believe there should be two spaces between sentences, raise your right hand and repeat after me “I solemnly swear I will do everything humanly possible to leave only one space after a sentence.”
I know, it’s a lot to deal with. I think it has something to do with old fashioned manual typesetting going digital. But does it really matter why? I’m trying to get in the swing of things, because this is the way it’s done in my strange new world.
I don’t want to overreact; that is not a nervous laugh you hear. It is simply the sound of the very fabric of our society ripping apart.