7 Grammatical Errors That Aren’t 7 Grammatical Errors That Aren’t

by Mark Nichol
There are two types of grammar: Descriptive, which describes what is customary, and prescriptive grammar, which prescribes what should be. A tension between the two systems is inevitable — and healthy; it keeps us thinking about what we’re saying and writing.

Allowing mob rule at the expense of some governing of composition is madness, but a diction dictatorship is dangerous, too. As with any prescription, an overdose is contraindicated. Here are some hard pills to swallow for language mavens who require a strict adherence to rigid syntactical patterns at the expense of, well, language:

1. Never split an infinitive.
It isn’t wise to always ignore this fallacious rule against dividing the elements of the verb phrase “to (verb)” with an adverb, but to blindly follow it is to prohibit pleasing turns of phrase — one of the best known of which is from the introductory voice-over from all the Star Trek television series: “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” (The original series, produced before the more recent sensitivity to gender bias, put it “no man.”)

2. Never end a sentence with a preposition.
This rule is ridiculous, to start with. If you believe it, please tell me what planet you are from. What are you striving for? Give it up. Am I getting my point across?

The stricture against closing sentences with words that describe position stems from an eighteen-century fetish for the supposed perfection of classical Latin, which allowed no split infinitives — for the excellent reason that Latin infinitives consist of single words. English, however, being a distant relative of that language, should be allowed to form its own customs.

3. Never begin a sentence with a conjunction.
And why not? For an honorable tradition of doing just that exists. But some people persist in prohibiting this technique. Yet we defy them. Or we simply ignore them or laugh at them, neither of which they appreciate. Nor do they understand our attitude, though we try to convince them, and will continue to do so. So there.

The words beginning each of these sentences are conjunctions, easily recalled with the mnemonic FANBOYS. Every one is perfectly acceptable at the head of a sentence. As is obvious from the previous paragraph, however, a little goes a long way.

4. Distinguish between while and though.
Petty prescriptivists would have you reserve while for temporal usage only: “While I agree, I resist,” they say, should be revised to “Though I agree, I resist.” I freely admit that I often change while to though, and while I understand — I’m sorry, I can’t stop myself — and though I understand that it may seem pedantic, I think though reads better.

5. Distinguish between since and because.
Ditto. And ditto. I concur that indiscriminate replacement of since with because may seem persnickety, but since — ahem — because I find the latter word more pleasing, I will reserve the right to prefer it.

6. Use data only in the plural sense.
Where did they get this data? The alternative is to use datum in the singular sense, which makes you sound like a propellerhead. (Look it up, kids.) People who say “datum” get data, but they don’t get dates.

7. Use none only in the singular sense.
None of these rules, followed strictly, allow for a vernacular ease with language.

Did that sentence hurt? Did the waves stop crashing to shore? Did Earth stop spinning? If you wish to replace none with “not one” or “no one” (“Not one person admitted guilt”; “No one saw that coming”), by all means, do so, but fear not none in a plural sense.



Using your knowledge of hooks and leads, complete the following assignment.

  1. View the video on the blog titled “Hooks: Great Opening Lines”.
  2. Write down the lines in your Prompts Journal.
  3. Determine if it is “showing” or “telling”.
  4. Determine what the kind of hook/lead that the sentence is.
  5. Also, try to figure out the title of the novel.
Click here to read some additional advice for creating your “best” opening line.

Ten Destination ImagiNation Teams Headed to State in April

Ten Destination ImagiNation (DI)I teams qualified to attend the state competition in Corpus Christi on April 13-14th, according to information provided by parent managers and teachers. The teams represent the following FISD schools:

  • Borchardt
  • Corbell
  • Taylor
  • Riddle
  • Ashley
  • Bledsoe
  • Smith
  • Clark
  • Fowler
  • Heritage

Gifted and Talented Coordinator Julie Martin noted that a total of 23 teams qualified for state from this region – the 10 FISD teams among them. Principal Matt Kimball of Smith was proud to note that two of the teams have links to Smith Elementary and winning parent manager Sunita Patel. A third grade team from Smith that is managed by Patel is headed to state as is her sixth grade team from Clark. The Clark team, managed by Patel, was last year’s Global champion,and its members were Smith fifth graders at the time of the win.

The Heritage High School DI Team, of which Maus‘ very own Shivam Duttis a member, placed first in the Regional tournament. They will be going to the Texas State competition in Corpus Christi. The team also won the Renaissance Award for their outstanding skill in designing a giant barn, engineering special effects and a soundtrack, and performing as though they were in a movie trailer. Their props were amazing with lots of chick-fil-a cows. They were connected with pvc pipe and rotated around to look like a herd of cows running, and their costumes were priceless.Congratulations, students and parents! The Heritage Team Manager is Brenda Bannoura (brendabannoura@yahoo.com).

Destination ImagiNation is an international competitive program that promotes team work, critical thinking, problem solving and other 21st century skills. Areas of competition include challenges, which can have theatrical, structural, improvisational, scientific or technical focuses.

The FISD teams range from third grade to high school. After successful state competition, teams compete at what is called Global Finals. Teams that compete at Global Finals represent well over 100 countries.

DI teams begin preparing for tournaments months in advance. DI competition features challenges that are science and math based, and others in the arts. Each challenge has a technical and a creative element to the challenge.


For more information about Destination ImagiNation, visit http://www.idodi.org.

Hello Parents-

To avoid going to their lockers, many students have begun bringing too much stuff to each of their classes.  Students really should only bring what they need to each individual class.  Some schools have bins under their desks for storage, but Maus does not.  These items end up in the aisles.  And with larger class sizes, that means more stuff in our aisles.  Also, as we try to meet the needs of our 21st century learner, students no longer spend the whole period sitting at their desks.  We incorporate activities that require students to get up and walk around, which is difficult with materials cluttering the aisles.   Aside from cluttering the aisles, more stuff in class makes it harder to get organized or find that one worksheet or project the teacher asks for because students have to spend so much time digging through all of the stuff.

Students have four minutes between passing periods.  That is plenty of time, especially since most of their classes are right next to each other.  We are asking students to use the time as it is meant for: going to their lockers, putting up one class’s materials and getting another’s.

We want to make you aware of the situation because students who don’t comply may receive a tardy to class.  Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you!
The 8th Grade Pumas Team