English Mistakes That Aren’t Mistakes

Here’s a wonderful list of Non-Errors (“Those usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English”). I love this stuff. English is a brawling, promiscuous drunkard of a language made up of mispronounced and stolen words from other languages, and that’s what makes it such a glory to speak. Usage pecksniffs who try to tell you that colorful, unambiguous, expressive turns of phrase or sentence structure are incorrect are the worst kind of bores.

Dinner is done; people are finished.
I pronounce this an antiquated distinction rarely observed in modern speech. Nobody really supposes the speaker is saying he or she has been roasted to a turn. In older usage people said, “I have done” to indicate they had completed an action. “I am done” is not really so very different.Crops are raised; children are reared.
Old-fashioned writers insist that you raise crops and rear children; but in modern American English children are usually “raised.”

“You’ve got mail” should be “you have mail.”
The “have” contracted in phrases like this is merely an auxiliary verb indicating the present perfect tense, not an expression of possession. It is not a redundancy. Compare: “You’ve sent the mail.”


(de la boingboing)


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