The English language is a dynamic language, an ever-growing language which immediately adapts to the current dictations of the environment in which it is being spoken. There are many outdated grammar rules that do not apply to the contemporary English. It is no longer news that the English we speak today is completely different from the one spoken in the 17th and 18th centuries. In fact, several words have been totally removed from the language, or have had their meanings changed. Similarly, grammar rules have also changed, while others have completely gone extinct (Learn about the grammar rules that have changed in the 21st century).
Here are some outdated grammar rules which are no longer used in contemporary English writing and speaking:
- NEVER END A SENTENCE WITH A PREPOSITION: Before now, it was considered a grammatical blunder to end a sentence with a preposition (learn about the father of English grammar). Historians have traced this rule to the rules of Latin grammar. An example is this: Where are you going to? This is regarded to as incorrect by conventional grammarians, but the reality is different today. More prepositions are being used to end sentences. Hence, the above sentence will be formerly written as “Where are you going?” This point can be summed with the popular words of Winston Churchill which reads: “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”
- NEVER SPLIT AN INFINITIVE: An infinitive is a sentence that contains “to” and a verb. An example is this: to run. Old grammar rules state that no word should ever be used in between an infinitive. However, this rule has been completely disregarded in today’s world. Infinitives are split with no restrictions, as is present in this sentence: to aggressively run.
- THE USE OF Whom: There has always been a rather vague line between the words who and whom. This is because both words are so closely related that they can be used interchangeably. However, antique English rules disagree. Whom is a word designed to be used when asking a question. Examples are: Whom did the boys come to visit? Whom did the police officers arrest? Today, the use of the word “whom” has been completely removed from the English language. Speakers and writers of the language now simply use “Who” in the place of “whom”.
- STARTING SENTENCES WITH CONJUNCTIONS: Antique English states that a sentence cannot be started with a conjunction. Today, as long as your sentence is grammatically correct, and it passes its message, a conjunction can sit wherever you place it, including as the first word in a sentence. Also, the use of conjunctions at the beginning of sentences have made it easier to create shorter sentences.
- THE PROBLEM OF THEY: The English language lacks a gender-neutral word which can be used to describe a man or a woman in a sentence. Using he/she most times breaks the flow of the sentence, and this has brought the word they to the forefront of this dilemma. To fix this fault, it is important to break one of the most important rules of pronouns, and this means using the word they to mean one individual, rather than a number of individuals. However, this can be confusing, but it is a 21st century law-breaking activity that might come in handy someday.
In conclusion, language can never be regarded to as a rigid form of culture. With a prolonged interaction with a foreign culture, the language of a group of people is expected to undergo several changes. This is why grammar rules will keep changing until the end of time. However, it is important to study every grammar rule, obsolete and modern, in order to have a better grasp of the English language.
Know the rules, so you can know how to properly break them.