The Best Grammar Tips We Learned Last Year

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I might be Lifehacker’s parenting editor, but I also took on the unofficial role of the site’s grammar writer in 2019. Whenever I had to double-check the usage of a word or phrase or recalled a mnemonic device I found useful, I wrote about it. And then I’d get specific reader requests, like, “Can you please write a post telling people that ‘verbage’ is not a word?” or “can you do ‘comprise’ next?” and I was clearly all-too-happy to oblige.

Is it this one or that one?

So often, we might have a sense of whether “who” or “whom” is the correct usage in a particular sentence but we’re not entirely sure because we don’t know the rule. These are the best “this or that” posts of the year:

Good new and timely stuff

It’s great to get a good grasp of the classics, but language is suppose to be ever-evolving and fun, too, amirite? I’m surprised it took “vacay” this long to gain Official Word Status, but Merriam-Webster added that one to its dictionary this year, along with a few other favourites, including dad joke, sesh, stan and swole. This year, we also got to ponder the evolution of the phrase, “quid pro quo,” and we got to admire a Very Good Memo from a certain whistleblower.

But perhaps the most exciting vocabulary development this year happened when Merriam-Webster officially gave its blessing to the singular non-binary “they,” adding it to their dictionary. I don’t know who ultimately made that decision, but they made the right one.

Don’t be a grammar snob

Being a bit of a grammar nerd is good. The grammar nerds are the folks who come up with the mnemonic devices that help the rest of us remember “who” from “whom.” But you don’t have to be an arse about it, and you don’t have to purposefully use fancy words just to make yourself sound smarter.

However, having said all of that, we do still endorse adding a few of these Latin phrases into your vocabulary in 2020 because they are fun to say.

This article has been updated since its original publication.


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