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The New English Rules

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Within the past few years, the "rules" for the English language have been somewhat relaxed. I am old-school and was taught all the basics, some of which have been very difficult to follow considering the new-age technology and the "new" English resulting from this technology.

However, I was shocked to learn there have been certain rules which have been dropped. For example, the rules which no longer apply are:

Never begin a sentence with a conjunction. You may now use "and" at the beginning of a sentence and will not be penalized for it in today's curriculum.

Never end your sentence with a preposition... Well, I saw that one coming. That has been one of the hardest ones for almost everybody to follow... "Where are you going to?"

And yes, thanks to the original Star Trek series, you can definitely split your infinitives. "To boldly go where no man has gone before."

It does seem very awkward not end sentences with a preposition. I have spent a considerable amount of time restructuring sentences in order to accommodate that rule. I am glad that one is gone. But I did just begin a sentence with a conjunction in the paragraph preceding this one, and it feels okay.

I suppose it will make things easier and less stressing for those of us that were penalized for using improper grammar when we were being educated. I also agree it will make things considerably easier for those who do not have English as their native language.  It is just a sign of the times.

Next thing you know, OMG, BS, and LOL will become words that are recognized in the dictionary. What is next?

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Next thing you know, OMG, BS, and LOL will become words that are recognized in the dictionary. What is next?

I think some dictionaries already recognize some Internet acronyms as real English words.

I don't necessarily agree with all the changes, but well, languages evolve. Several centuries ago people were complaining about words and grammar constructions that we all find perfectly normal now ;)

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The classic battle between prescriptivists and descriptivists =)

Many of the "rules" of English were invented in the 18th century when Latin-loving grammarians decided English was a vulgar language and needed some sophistication. They insisted on applying Latin rules to English, regardless of how different the languages are, or how pointless the change.

Both writers and layfolk alike have, for the most part, disregarded these rules (which would often involve criticism of the grammatical aberrations committed by previous writers like Shakespeare). Since these rules did continue being taught in schools, the only reason to follow them is to not get points docked off your assignment. Otherwise, ignore them, and you'll be in good company.

I used to be a proud so-called Grammar Nazi when I was younger. Then I switched to the descriptivists side, which says language is constantly evolving, there's no way or reason to regulate it, and "correct" grammar is described by analyzing the form of native speakers, rather than prescribed by what a few grammarians hundreds of years ago thought was best.

As an example—and I don't know how accurate this is—I read that the reason splitting infinitives is wrong is because the Latin infinitive is a single word and hence impossible to split. So it follows that English should treat "to + verb" as one word. Reasoning that is slightly silly, if you ask me =P

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Languages are always changing and adapting to the new era.

I agree, I think that some people are overly obsessed with rules which don't really matter. Ultimately, it comes down to the people to shape their own language, and no linguist can tell people how they should speak. Times simply change and the language changes with it, it's a natural ongoing process and there's nothing that we can do about it, I don't think we should even attempt changing it. Don't try fixing it, if it isn't broken.

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I was taught that you can't start a sentence with words such as "and" or "but" also, and I was not aware that this rule had been officially dropped. I can't think of many people starting new sentences with those words very often when speaking out loud, but it seems very natural when writing, at least for me. It seems to add emphasis when you break apart two sentences and start the second sentence with "but" or "and." I've also noticed that some people seem to use "but" and "and" while speaking to create extremely long sentences. It isn't really obvious until you are typing what they are saying, and I do transcription, so I come across this a lot. When a sentence seems to go on and on, I take the liberty of starting a new sentence with one of those words. I am glad it's at least legal now!

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