Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 28 February 2024


  1. Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.
    Raymond Chandler 1888–1959 American writer of detective fiction: letter to Edward Weeks, 18 January 1947
  2. Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.
    illustrating that grammatical structure is independent of meaning
    Noam Chomsky 1928–  American linguistics scholar: Syntactic Structures (1957) ch. 2
  3. This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.
    Winston Churchill 1874–1965 British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 1940–5, 1951–5: Ernest Gowers Plain Words (1948) ‘Troubles with Prepositions’
  4. I will not go down to posterity talking bad grammar.
    while correcting proofs of his last Parliamentary speech, 31 March 1881
    Benjamin Disraeli 1804–81 British Tory statesman and novelist; Prime Minister 1868, 1874–80: Robert Blake Disraeli (1966)
  5. The English speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; and (5) those who know and distinguish. Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority and are a happy folk, to be envied by most of the minority classes.
    H. W. Fowler 1858–1933 English lexicographer and grammarian: Modern English Usage (1926)
  6. The only person entitled to use the imperial ‘we’ in speaking of himself is a king, an editor, and a man with a tapeworm.
    Robert G. Ingersoll 1833–99 American agnostic: in Los Angeles Times 6 October 1914
  7. Grammer, the ground of al.
    William Langland c.1330–c.1400 English poet: The Vision of Piers Plowman B text (ed. A. V. C. Schmidt, 1987) Passus 15, l. 370
  8. The subjunctive mood is in its death throes, and the best thing to do is to put it out of its misery as soon as possible.
    W. Somerset Maugham 1874–1965 English novelist: A Writer's Notebook (1949) written in 1941
  9. Only in grammar can you be more than perfect.
    William Safire 1929–2009 American columnist: in New York Times 19 January 1992
  10. I don't want to talk grammar, I want to talk like a lady.
    George Bernard Shaw 1856–1950 Irish dramatist: Pygmalion (1916) act 2