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Grammar Gone Rogue


The English language, though one of the most used languages in the world, is riddled with imperfections. The existence of ironies, paradoxes, and oxymorons is proof of this. More than that, here are some grammar rules that are absolutely odd.

  1. Earth is not the same as other planets

Well, technically it is science-wise, but the word earth itself may be taken as either a common noun or a proper noun. When used as the name of a planet, it’s capitalized unless preceded by the article the. When used as the synonym for dirt, it’s lowercased. Other planets, however, are always in uppercase and are never preceded by the article the.

  1. Half is both singular and plural

Depending on its use, half may be taken as singular or plural. If half is followed by a singular noun, then the verb that follows it should be singular (ex. Half of the pie has been eaten). If followed by a plural noun, it is then used with a plural verb (ex. Half of the berries were rotten).

  1. Until is ambiguous

If your deadline is until a specific date, is your deadline on the day of, or on the day before? That depends on whoever set the deadline. The meaning of the word until depends on one’s interpretation.

  1. Apostrophes are sometimes added to signify pluralization

We know that apostrophes are a messy punctuation mark and that their primary use is to indicate possession. However, a lot of people are still confused by their placement. Sometimes, an apostrophe is used to signify multiple copies of a letter or a word. For example, do’s and don’ts, I’s and T’s.

  1. Multiple possessors

Here we are again with the apostrophe confusion. The use of apostrophes and apostrophe + s can get trickier as the possessors increase. For example, Jack and Jill both own three cars. If it’s said that they are “Jack and Jill’s three cars,” then all three cars are jointly owned by both Jack and Jill. If “Jack’s and Jill’s three cars,” then both Jack and Jill have at least three cars owned separately.

  1. There exists an order of adjectives

This is unfamiliar to many native English speakers. If you feel like a series of adjectives sounds off, it’s probably because they’re not in the order you’re used to. For future reference, here’s the “proper” order of adjectives: quantity, quality, size, age, shape, color, proper adjective, purpose.

  1. Ablaut reduplication

Ever wonder why you say zig-zag, ding-dong, criss-cross and not zag-zig, dong-ding, and cross-criss? That’s because of the rule of ablaut reduplication. This is a subconscious linguistic rule specifically for word repetition wherein either a consonant or a vowel is altered. If it’s the vowel that’s altered, then the vowel word order has to be I, A, O. If there are only two words in the series, the first has to be I, followed by A or O. The root of this subconscious rule has not yet been settled, although many say it’s either because of the movement of the tongue, or the ancient language of the Caucasus.

  1. None is singular

This is a pretty common grammar rule, but have you ever wondered why nothing signifies one thing? This is because the word none is a blend of the words no one; therefore, it should be singular. However, it can seem awkward at times, so some style guides have made none followed by a plural verb acceptable.

  1. Fun is actually a noun

This may come as a surprise to many, but fun used to be solely a noun. Saying that a party was fun was as incorrect as saying that the same party was noise. Over time, however, the adjective funny adopted a different connotation, so fun as an adjective became more acceptable.

  1. I versus me

Many linguists have argued time and again that I should always, always, be used as a subject, and me as an object. However, many native speakers find this distractingly formal and opted to use me for the subject part of the sentence as well. Although still up for debate, the use of me as a subject of the sentence is widely accepted in informal English.




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