Friday, August 12, 2011

Let's CHANGE These "Rules"!

Since rules become rules through usage, I hereby urge some changes. If we all use what I suggest often enough (and urge others to do the same), we can cause change. And of course, I'm referring here to a few grammar or writing rules. Are you game?

The first rule I'd like changed is the "whom rule." For years, I've been advocating the death of WHOM. I'm pleased journalism is, by and large, doing so, especially when WHOM leads in the sentence. For example, this question: "WHO will the rebels attack today?"

The second rule I'd like changed or modified is the "cliche rule." In the above paragraph, I used "by and large." I like that cliched expression. It says exactly what I want said, so why shouldn't I use it? Obviously, I chose to. (I also chose to use an adverb in the preceding sentence, and to end the sentence with a preposition. Ha! Two more rules I think have been over-emphasized.)

The third writing rule too much in use these days is the "omniscient point of view rule." Hey, I miss omniscience in stories! Sure, it can be overdone, but so can any POV. Nowadays, when I read a novel with some omniscient POV, I cheer and think, good for that daring author. I'll be glad when I'm famous enough to have fun breaking the rules, too! :-)

A fourth usage problem in our English language is NOT a problem in many other languages, including Chinese (my childhood's second language). Maybe you've already guessed the problem -- our HE and SHE antecedent pronoun problem caused in part by our politically correct age. The problem results from English not having a gender-neutral singular pronoun. Sure, we have IT, but so far, it is not used for a person. The Chinese pronoun for either "he" or "she" is TA. Maybe our American English can adopt this Chinese pronoun, like we have many words from other languages.

There are more language rule changes I'd like to suggest, but I'll let you do that in the comments, please. However, while I have your attention, how about one more change that's not language related, and one addition. First, the addition: let's add AYC to our useful list of acronyms, like BTW and FYI -- AYC for "at your convenience." If it's already out there, I've missed it. And nobody knows what it means when I use it.

And the non-language change: let's move our forks to the right side of our plates beside our spoons, and move our knives to the left side. That's how we use them since we no longer dine British or European style. Sometime, maybe during our rebellion against England, we switched hands for the usage of those utensils. Now it's time to switch their position in our table settings.

I do have one more change suggestion. But I'm embarrassed to mentioned it here as I've not followed it. I think ALL BLOGS should be limited to one, two or three paragraphs (like Cec Murphy's). That way, we could all enjoy more blogs during our busy days.

Weekend blessings!
Millie Samuelson


  1. I completely agree. The only time I use "whom" in my writing is in a legal brief that might be read by a stickler judge or in dialogue by a stuffy character. I also don't worry about ending a sentence with a preposition (except in the same situations).

    Following the rules too closely makes the writing stiff and makes some readers think you are stuck up. So I'm with Millie.

    Kathryn Page Camp

  2. Nice to know you side with me, Kathryn! :-)

  3. After reading my blog here via Facebook, my Taiwan and FB friend Paul Brown suggested the word "authorgraphed" -- wow! I really that, don't you?? Let's use it until it becomes part of our American language. . . :-)