Remarks on English Usage

"I press this matter with such earnestness, because a knowledge of grammar is the foundation of all literature; and because without this knowledge opportunities for speaking and writing are only occasions for men to display their unfitness to speak and write. ..."


In my spare time, I enjoy identifying common errors of English grammar and usage and complaining bitterly about them. As a mere amateur in this area, I claim only the most superficial understanding of the relevant issues and generally defer to the experts. In particular, I'm a fan of Goold Brown (others who share my admiration for G.B. may be interested in acquiring this commemorative toilet kit), H. W. Fowler, and either Wilson Follett or Jacques Barzun, depending on who is responsible for my favorite parts of Modern American Usage. Occasionally, however, in the spirit of Kingsley Amis's dictum, "The defence of the language is too large a matter to be left to the properly qualified", I offer my own observations. It is my hope that arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism can compensate for what I lack in other credentials. Some of my favorite barbarisms, solecisms, and improprieties are discussed herein.

I've also written a few longer-winded essays, which have appeared in The Vocabula Review:


"... How many false pretenders to erudition have I exposed to shame merely by my knowledge of grammar! How many of the insolent and ignorant great and powerful have I pulled down and made little and despicable!" -- William Cobbett