Sometimes, there’s a grammar issue that I’m not even aware exists until something or other happens that alerts me to what I’d never even thought about. For instance, I’d never had a need to write in a single word that someone was not acceptable dating material. But if I did, then I’d’ve assumed that the person was “undateable”, with an “e”. And I figured everyone else would think that as well.
But it seems that I was mistaken, as I found out as I watched John Tucker Must Die with one old and one new friend a few weeks ago. (Necessary disclaimer: I was not the one who turned this trifle on, although I did quickly recognize it. I may even have made some statement suggesting that I was interested in watching the movie — but let’s assume I didn’t.) In the first scene I caught, a giant picture of John Tucker’s flawless face was stamped with a gigantic stamp reading “UNDATABLE” to establish the protagonists’ plan to make him unattractive. Immediately, I thought “Oh, how odd! Everyone writes it with an ‘e’, surely.”
But alas, Google disagreed with me. It wasn’t a big gap, certainly no Cold War missile gap or Delaware Water Gap, but undatable outnumbered undateable 23,300 to 16,200. Similarly, datable outnumbered dateable 289,000 to 153,000. So it seems I was mistaken; not only is it hardly established that dateable is the standard, it’s not even favored. I don’t know what has led me to put e‘s into words that others leave e-free, but I am forced to assume it was some scabbed-over traumatic childhood experience.