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January 02, 2011


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From the point of view of teaching them how to communicate, your realistic view about anal retentive rules of grammar is fine. But, if they're going to go on to take other writing-intensive classes, they may be expected to follow those rules. That's a case where knowing the rules before you can break them has more force than quality of communication....

Lee Kottner

I agree, Rob. I do warn them about this, too, and when I'm grading papers, I'll tell them the difference between what common usage is, and what my more anal-retentive colleagues will allow. (Old copy editor's joke: Does anal-retentive have a hyphen?) Many of those colleagues don't seem to realize this is how language grows. Usage drives it, not rules.

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