In Wednesday’s post, I was complained about how the Daily Mail treated an obvious non-expert as an expert, writing an article that gave us her ill-informed opinions as though they somehow mattered. Now, having looked through the comments on that article, I’m compelled to do a bonus Friday post, because some of the comments are masterpieces of grammar ramblings. I’ve posted commentary below them, but really, they’re the stars of the show, and I’m just the nettling MC making the obvious joke.

A large number of students and adults can’t tell the difference between
their, there, they’re
It’s, its’, its,
loose, lose
– Batman, Newport, strange planet called ‘Earth’, 07/12/2010 14:43


Not to nitpick, but there is no such word as its’
– Natalie, Durham, 7/12/2010 17:01
Yes there is! Educate yourself THEN comment….
– marie, athens, 7/12/2010 7:54

Is there anything more marvelous than a snotty remark from someone who is wrong? And again, its’?

Not sure why you’ve been red arrowed when it’s totally true. ‘Asian talk’ such as “innit” and “bro” has become part of the day-to-day language.
Get on a bus in London and I doubt you’ll hear a single English voice.
Act fast now and cut immigration – if you go in a shop and hear them speaking in foreign remind them what country they live in!!!

My dear British National Party friend, bro is American talk, and we’ll thank you to cite us appropriately. Also, “speaking in foreign”? C’mon.

How about the very latest, infuriating beauty? Question: ‘Have you got a girl-friend?’
Answer: ‘Yes I do’. I long to witness such an exchange on TV and hear the interviewer ask ‘Yes, you do what?’ The answer will, of course, be ‘Yes, I do have a girl-friend’. The learned interviewer will then humiliate the ignoramus – for the benefit of all – with ‘Do you mean “Yes, I have”?

If you’ll excuse some longer commentary, no, the interviewee doesn’t mean that. The interviewee is using verb phrase ellipsis. VP ellipsis is where a verb phrase would be repeated but is instead left out or replaced with an appropriate auxiliary. The auxiliary is based on the tense of the VP being replaced, so you’d use do in the present tense, will in the future, did in the past, and so on. This kind of ellipsis replaces the verb and its objects. If the verb isn’t replaced, then the objects have to stick around, too*. In response to “Did you eat the fish yet?” one can say “Yes, I did” or “Yes, I ate it”, but “Yes, I ate” is distinctly strange to say here. So too with the “Have you got a girlfriend?” question; “Yes, I do” or “Yes, I have a girlfriend”, or even “Yes, I have one” would be standard. But “Yes, I have” would only be a standard response if the question were “Have you had a girlfriend?”.

It is noticible how poor grammar is now quite normal amongst the younger generations. You only have to look at the standard from the articles written on here & other media. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are graduates they are employing. Also the media has made a big effort to move away from those who speak the queens english or proper english. Instead they push regional accents where possible. Where they have their own dialect. Like some say “us” instead of “me”. Unless children are avid book readers, they will pick up poor grammar from the internet, media etc. The problem is we have let standards slip. I know a few students who are wanting to go into teaching, because it is so much easier to get on courses. I would not want them teaching my children, they seem,undisciplined ignorant of history & basic facts. Have been brought up on a shallow celeb culture. They have poor grammar & would be passing this on to future pupils. We need to stop the cycle of this now.

If you’re serious in your concerns about bad grammar on the Internet, might I suggest you not post anymore?

*: In some cases you can elide only the object, but these are generally in cases where the verb is being specifically focused on, i.e., He didn’t think I saw it, but I saw. They also, at least to me, sound generally awkward unless they are delivered angrily, in which case grammatical awkwardness is the least of one’s concerns.