chapter  21
10 Pages


The word ‘grammar’ itself is used in two very distinct ways: prescriptively and descriptively. Prescriptively, the term is used to prescribe how language should be used; descriptively, the term is used to describe how the language actually is used. Prescriptive grammarians believe that English grammar is a fixed and unchanging series of rules which should be applied to the language. For prescriptive grammarians expressions such as I ain’t done nothing wrong or We was going to the supermarket are quite simply wrong. To understand this rather better, it is necessary to consider two other related questions that often get muddled up with grammar in the public discourse: the question of style and the question of Standard English.