January 21, 2018 by Petrea
Writings Wrongs: My Mistake
“When you’ve finished LEADING them and you have LED them, use L-E-D, like the author of the above quote should have done.”
I’m quoting myself from last week’s Writing Wrongs post. There is incorrect grammar in that sentence. Do you know what it is? I know, because a commenter pointed it out, saying, “‘Above’ is not an adjective.” In proper English I should have said, “the quote above” instead of “the above quote.”
Adjectives are those descriptor words that modify (by way of further explaining or enhancing) the word that follows. I could have said “nice quote” or “funny quote” or “boring quote,” and I’d have been correct. But “above quote” is not proper English, according to one school of thought.
What? How can such things be debatable? Isn’t grammar either right or wrong? Yes and no. At least, that’s my school of thought.
Grammar is part of writing. Writing is communication. If I’m reading along and suddenly I stumble because a word or phrase or itty bitty dot of punctuation throws me off, then the writer is not being clear and I haven’t received the communication. If I understand what’s written without tripping over it, then the communication is received.
The commenter was thrown off because I said “above quote,” and that person is not wrong to feel that way. I’m willing to bet money that most readers were not thrown off, however, so I’ll leave it as is. “Above” is traditionally used as an adverb or a preposition. Yet these days you’ll see it used not only as an adjective but even as a noun, as in: “See the above.”
The English language is constantly evolving, and not everyone agrees that this evolution is a good thing. I’m glad it evolves, otherwise the commenter would have said something like, “Ofer [is] nâ wiðerbreca tôgeîcendlic,” and I’d be screwed.
One source says “Adjectiving below is not always well received,” which itself brings up enough questions to confuse us all. (This source is verbing a noun, which isn’t well received either. Or should that be “received well”?)
Feel free to point out any errors of mine you see, or to disagree with my grammatical opinion. Just be nice.
Have you come across any bad grammar lately? Use the contact form to send me your pet peeves, or links to flubs you find. Let’s save each other from stepping in cruddy grammar.
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