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Word Maven: Patricia O'Conner on Grammar Changes

Penguin Random House

English is a living language, which means that we're constantly coming up with both new words and new ways to use old words. While the fundamentals of grammar remain largely the same, these constant changes in language mean that even our steadfast grammar rules may begin to shift over time.


On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with English Language Expert Patricia O’Conner about the latest updates to her bestselling grammar guide, Woe is I: the Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English. Then, O'Conner answers listener questions.


The fourth edition of Woe is I covers shifting pronouns, tricky prepositions, subject-verb agreement, superlatives, changes in spelling, and some new idioms. O'Conner emphasizes that these new additions take more than just a rise in popularity to be included. 


"There are good grammatical foundations for believing that these newly accepted usages are in fact grammatically sensible and correct," O'Conner says.