Who or that: Survey says . . .

Grammar, along with its close relatives usage and style, is a common cause of pearl-clutching in some circles. I associate it with prescriptivists, myself. Those who cannot conceive of the correctness of anything other than what they know themselves to be “correct,” for varying degrees of that word. These folks also often conflate grammar with usage and style, which is not the best understanding. The latter two items are closely entwined with grammar, certainly, but they are not the same, nor can they be understood in the same way. Grammar is a set of rules. Usage is a set of guidelines. Style is a different set of guidelines about mechanics, mostly: when to capitalize, when to italicize, how to write initialisms or acronyms, where to place punctuation (when there is no grammatical guidance already in place). Both usage and style also vary with the English being considered. I’ve written here and elsewhere about the differences between American and British English. The grammar is the same; the usage and style vary.

The latest kerfuffle has been about using that to refer to people. A number of vocal participants hold that it is wrong to do so. I do not regret to say it is not. It is grammatically correct, and it always has been. Continue reading “Who or that: Survey says . . .”

Journalism Awards (but proofreading’s not part of that, obviously)

Thanks to Scott Douglas for sharing this via email.

the last paragraph is the best (or worst, depending on your point of view)

There’s plenty of painful verbiage in the first four paragraphs, but oh, my stars and garters–look at that final one. Apparently, the Hollywood Reporter arranged for two of its peeps to win awards. That’s what the sentence means, as printed. We’ve got random Capitalization, runaway boldfacing, out-of-place plurals, and more. Just feast on this smorgasboard of unproofed electronic copy. G’wan. I have a wafer-thin mint for you afterward.