Proper English?

In our last blog we were discussing what proper English really is, and if there is such a thing. You were given some rules and we promised to provide  you with some answers to your doubts. We hope you’ve had enough time to think about the rules and their relevance.

Answers to last time’s blog challenge:

Sentences 3, 9 and 11 are clearly wrong and so the rules that forbid them can be considered “good rules”.

Most native speakers would agree that 8 is strictly speaking incorrect, although it is very often heard.

The other rules are more dubious:

1,2 Ending a sentence with a preposition ( e.g. What are you listening to?) and splitting infinitives

(e.g.He wanted to quickly go through everything.) are common in English. Splitting infinitives         often avoids ambiguity.

4  Contractions are preferred in informal English, although they should not be used in formal written English.

5 And, but and So are commonly used  to begin sentences in English.

6 A useful rule , but with many exceptions.

7,15 Using foreign words and clichés is perfectly acceptable, though of course excessive use would amount to poor style.

11The passive voice is the norm in many contexts ,especially in more formal and scientific English.

10 Rhetorical questions are often used to create an effect.

12 It has only recently become common, even in educated circles, to use less with countable nouns. To many it is still considered incorrect, and language learners should learn to differentiate between less and fewer.

13 English sentences often end with an auxiliary in order to avoid repetition.

Let’s  round off with another opinion or, shall we say, go back to the beginning: Is there such a thing as proper English?




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