Rules, Schmoolz

For every grammar rule I am adamant about, there's one that I think is pointless, or downright bad. Of course, when I'm speaking I get incredibly lax about grammar. I think that's pretty natural. But even in writing, sometimes, as the kids say, "I just can't even with this rule..." 

That Who?

I write about dogs a lot, and I write for dog trainers, who are probably a bit more enthusiastic about their dogs than the general public. As I mentioned in my previous post, the rules of grammar state that dogs should be referred to as “that,” not “who”: “The dog that sits first wins the game.” I hate that. I have entire conversations with my dog*, which makes it hard to think of him as an “it" or a “that.” He's a “he.” So I tend to prefer "the dog [or cat/fish/bird] who,” and will recommend it to clients whose audience might appreciate it. 

*I’m pleased to report that, to date, he has not answered back, so my sanity seems to be intact. 

It Is to Be Hoped

First, take a look at all those tiny words that I capitalized in that title! Go back and read last week’s post for more about title case.

Now for the rule I hate. The word “hopefully” means “in a hopeful manner.” This means that a sentence like “Hopefully she will win the race!” is a statement that she will definitely win the race while exuding a good deal of hope. The sentence should technically be rewritten to say “I am hopeful that she will win the race.” But that sounds affected and odd, and anyone who claims not to understand the intended meaning of the first sentence is being pedantic and lame, or is my high school English teacher. A quick perusal of online dictionaries left me unsure of how long “hopefully” as a sentence modifier has been tolerated, if not outright accepted, by the grammarati, but everyone needs to relax and just let “hopefully” be hopeful.

Alright Alright Alright!

That was my Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused impression. Trust me, it’s really good. But that’s not the point here. The point is that Grammar Girl recently taught me that “alright” is not even a word! Are you kidding me, Grammar Girl? What gives? This non-word is so commonly used that spellcheck doesn’t catch it, and while I have no particular loyalty to spellcheck (I did used to love that spellcheck would flag “spellcheck” as misspelled, though), I feel like someone should have alerted me. Also, why can’t we have “alright” if we can have “already,” “altogether,” and…I don’t know…“altruism”? No, not that last one. I take that back. 

I will grudgingly stop using “alright” in formal writing, but I am already altogether (see what I did there?) too tired to stop using it in everyday communications.  

Next week I'll tell you about some grammar rules I've had to change my mind about. It's rare, but it happens!