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Grammar test

James Mallet | 12:45 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Each week on Newswatch, complaints come and go from members of the public about what some see as mistaken news priorities, bias, inaccuracy, or trivialisation. But what remains constant, and what seems to elicit the ire of viewers more than anything else, is one topic: sloppy grammar. Everyone seems to have their personal bugbear, be it the use of "less" instead of "fewer", the split infinitive, or the use of a plural noun with a singular verb. And many feel that standards have slipped in recent years.

We thought we'd put this to the test, and invited a number of BBC journalists to demonstrate their grammatical expertise - or otherwise - on camera. Perhaps surprisingly, five presenters or correspondents were brave enough to take up the challenge: spotting 20 deliberate grammatical errors which we'd inserted in a mock conversation between a presenter and a correspondent.

Bill Turnbull and Sian WilliamsWedged into an old school desk under hot lights, they all felt the pressure. Breakfast presenters Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams took part as a team of two, but disagreed over whether to turn a "less" into a "fewer". Newsnight's Michael Crick admitted he received frequent e-mails from viewers correcting his grammar. Defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt was concerned about disgracing her old school English teacher. And Sue Littlemore complained that expectations were high for someone who's been reporting on Education for the past 10 years, saying that you wouldn't expect a Health correspondent to be able to perform surgery.

The results weren't quite as clear as we'd expected. One journalist spotted a mistake we didn't think we'd made. Another sent us evidence from the Oxford University Press that the noun "family" could take a plural verb instead of a singular. There was debate over phrases which were grammatically correct, but simply sounded wrong when you spoke them out loud. And anyway, if we're all used to hearing phrases like "to boldly go", is it just pedantic to object?

Our guinea-pigs spotted between 12 and 19 of the 20 mistakes - and on this week's programme you can see who scored what. So as not to spoil the surprise, after the programme's shown I'll put the questions themselves up here so you can see how you would do.

Newswatch is on the BBC News Channel at 2045 on Friday 14 November, and 0745 on Saturday 15 November on BBC One.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Thank goodness someone is starting to take this seriously !

    Could the next programme focus on sloppy pronunciation ? Hearing new shopping centres described as 'mawls' [?!] really takes the biscuit.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    We do not need adverbs bad, we need them badly. Don't we? Why is the 'ly' being dropped?

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm also confused as to why everyone seems to think that 'realize' is an Americanism. If you check any dictionary it will tell you that using a 'z' is the prefered spelling, with 'realise' as an alternative.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Language evolves, as does everything else. I would say for many of the grammatical gripes that people have had, there was never a correct answer in the first place. Words are constantly being hybridised, shortened, combined, invented, re-invented and then permanently mispronounced. If they weren't our speech wouldn't be able to keep up with the changes of our times - it barely does as it is.

    Written and spoken language is there for one purpose and one purpose only. The act of communication. In my opinion as long as it is clear what you were meaning - at the time that you meant it - then there is no harm done. Anything beyond that is just being awkward.

    Ah yes, the argument that grammar is there to aid understanding. It is only there to be of help if you fully understand it - and it seems that no one really does, they just like arguing about it.

    Basically, in my mind our language isn't currently cut out to cover the full nuance of communication, so i welcome any evolution. Even if that does mean loosing things like the Oxford comma or adopting a phonetic form of yodeling.

  • Comment number 7.

    Just read the BBC news story on a man who was stabbed just outside where I work:-

    https://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/7728777.stm

    Spot the errors:-
    "Man found stabbed on city street

    A man is in hospital with serious injuries after being found with stab wounds on a city street.

    west Yorkshire Police said the man was found on North Street near the Eagle public house in Leeds just before 0500 GMT on Friday.

    The man, thought to be in his 20s, was taken to Leeds General Infirmary for treated to his injuries.

    A police investigation is under way and North Street has been closed as inquiries continue."

    Journalism at its best?
    Not quite.

  • Comment number 8.

    The point of language is to convey ideas. As long as a sentence does this in such a way that there is little confusion I don't think the finer points of grammar are that important. Obviously if the choice of wording could be interpreted in two conflicting ways then it is different.

  • Comment number 9.

    The speaking voice is far more grating to me than the grammar used.

    The desire to offer regional accents and to facilitate identity has allowed some unmodulated schreechers to jar the airwaves.

    It is true that in some areas, the cries and brawling of mongers and their clients is evident, but, would mimicry be the best way to engage the niche audience?

  • Comment number 10.

    @1

    Ok can you explain why:

    all is pronounced awl

    but

    m+all = mall should be pronounced "mal" and not "mawl"

  • Comment number 11.

    Johnny Pixels - As someone whose first language is phonetic, I share your frustration with many aspects of the English language, but until the Queen decides to ask her staff to take her for a journey up the 'Mawl' to visit 'Pawl Mawl', I will stick with the pronunciation it should have.

    My other bugbear is people on the BBC saying "There's.." when they really mean "There are.."

    Although some of this is, I grant you, somewhat academic. What is the point of going to lots of trouble to get foreign names pronounced correctly, when BBC Radio 4 is now allowing our currency to be pronounced 'poynd' ?

  • Comment number 12.

    I sometimes watch TV on subtitles (888) and I am infuriated by the lack of grammar and neglect of the english language in writing let alone when said!

    For example ... names

    A pronoun ending in S like is stated as Chris's, surely it is CHRIS' (otherwise it's pronounced 'Chris' is'

    I think it only occurs on Eastenders, but where does 'what' come into it?Llisten to Dot next time somewhere in her sermons she will say 'what' rather than the word 'than'!!!

    The BBC is messing with our language, sometimes its traditional RP and then slang - it must be confusiong to our kids today

  • Comment number 13.

    And Strictly doe snot help either.. listen to Tess and barmy Bruce on Saturday...

    " The couple staying is..."

    surely a couple is plural so therefore 'are' staying

  • Comment number 14.

    And Strictly does not help either.. listen to Tess and barmy Bruce on Saturday...

    " The couple staying is..."

    surely a couple is plural so therefore 'are' staying

  • Comment number 15.

    @ 11

    Yes but lead ("leed") and lead ("led")have different meanings and pronunciations, but the same spelling. Just because Pall Mall is "pal mal" it does not follow that Mall on it's own when referring to a shopping complex should be pronounced "Mal".

    I'm of the school that the first business of news is to inform, not to provide a grammatically accurate piece of prose. Especially seeing as there are so many arguments over correct grammar.

  • Comment number 16.

    There is a simple rule for grammar, punctuation and pronunciation: If the receiver understands the statement correctly as the sender had intended, then the method of communicating the statement is correct. All too often, people with too much time on their hands complain about poor grammar, punctuation and pronunciation. However, on most occasions the receiver of a statement understands clearly what the sender means. I do, however, get concerned about apostrophes not being used or being used incorrectly. Rarely a sender means CV's or CD's.

  • Comment number 17.

    And Strictly does not help either.. listen to Tess and barmy Bruce on Saturday...

    " The couple staying is..."

    surely a couple is plural, so therefore 'are' staying.

    No: "couple" is a common collective noun, therefore the singular is correct. "Couple" refers to two items so grouped that this grouping becomes one entity.

  • Comment number 18.

    I remember a rather eccentric person who appeared on a chat show about personal development. He said "I have something very important to share with you but language will just get in the way.... so I will improvise." The next thirty seconds could have been mistaken for sheer nonsense but the effect was exactly what he was trying to get across that we communicate via body language and the words are just a tiny part of what "we say".

    A lot of what we see on TV is projected via "clever" and "slick" editing and is nothing like what we can expect to observe in real life. A camera can obscure true perspective, depth of field, contrast, brightness, and even colour.

    On radio we do have the delights of ambience, atmosphere, tone and hue of sound but we cannot see the nuances and body movement that goes with it all.

    So the media is, at best, a compromise of everything we may sense in everyday life. Language and its content is a tiny part of the complex equation. Of course grammar is important but it should not be given pride of place in communication.

  • Comment number 19.

    #7 It is obvious that the poor man felt so shocked by the "stab wounds in the street" (probably caused by a pneumatic drill aka jackhammer if you speak Septic) that he injured himself with "serious intention" while he was in a hospital.

    And that is just the first line......

  • Comment number 20.

    Please publish the test passage, together with the 20 errors, so we can all take the challenge. Perhaps, it could be set up as an on-line quiz.

  • Comment number 21.

    I am delighted to find others who are concrned about the state of our wonderful language. The BBC have a responsibility to set a good example.

  • Comment number 22.

    Can we have the text of the test (and a model answer) posted somewhere on bbc.co.uk, so that we can all have a go to see how clever we really are?

  • Comment number 23.

    if such rules were in place Brant and Ross would never have gotten a job in the first place.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Sue Littlemore complained that expectations were high for someone who's been reporting on Education for the past 10 years, saying that you wouldn't expect a Health correspondent to be able to perform surgery."

    No. but I expect a surgeon to be competent in use of language, as an essential communication tool of his/her trade and it is reasonable therefore that a correspondent should be at least as skilled in that respect.

    This communication tool is central to the competence of those employed in the media. If you cannot yourselves use language properly, why should I give credence to the views you are trying to convey to me?

    Not only that but you contribute to the general public uncertainties about spelling and grammar by not providing an example of good practice.

    KS
    ('O' Level English Language, from the days when it was regarded as a fairly useful skill!)

    PS
    If any mistakes are spotted in the above, I cite in my defence Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation
    "Any statement about correct grammar, punctuation or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror."
    ;-)

  • Comment number 25.

    'Sue Littlemore complained that expectations were high for someone who's been reporting on Education for the past 10 years, saying that you wouldn't expect a Health correspondent to be able to perform surgery.'

    No, but I expect a surgeon to be competent in use of language, as an essential communication tool of his or her trade and it is reasonable therefore that a correspondent should be at least as skilled in that respect.

    This communication tool is central to the competence of those employed in the media. If you cannot yourselves use language properly, why should I give credence to the views you are trying to convey to me?

    Not only that but you contribute to the general public uncertainties about spelling and grammar by not providing an example of good practice.

    KS
    ('O' Level English Language, from the days when it was regarded as a fairly useful skill!)

    PS
    If any mistakes are spotted in the above, I cite in my defence Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation :
    'Any statement about correct grammar, punctuation or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror.'
    ;-)

  • Comment number 26.

    'Sue Littlemore complained that expectations were high for someone who's been reporting on Education for the past 10 years, saying that you wouldn't expect a Health correspondent to be able to perform surgery.'

    ...but I expect a surgeon to be competent in use of language, as an essential communication tool of his or her trade and it is reasonable therefore that a correspondent should be at least as skilled in that respect.

    This communication tool is central to the competence of those employed in the media. If you cannot yourselves use language properly, why should I give credence to the views you are trying to convey to me?

    Not only that but you contribute to the general public uncertainties about spelling and grammar by not providing an example of good practice.

    KS
    ('O' Level English Language, from the days when it was regarded as a fairly useful skill!)

    PS
    If any mistakes are spotted in the above, I cite in my defence Hartman's Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation :
    "Any statement about correct grammar, punctuation or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror."
    ;-)

  • Comment number 27.

    Comments 25 and 26 are repeats of 24. I don't know how they got through, because my attempts to post kept getting rejected... some sort of comment about HTML error. I guessed that these related to my use of ampersand 'and', which I therefore altered.


    So, technology won't let me use the ever-so-useful ampersand in ordinary text!

  • Comment number 28.

    I am an English teacher and have just seen the report on apostrophes on the BBC news channel. In it, the reporter was asking members of the public where they would put an apostrophe in some simple phrases.

    One of the phrases was "James friends". In the report it was said the apostrophe should go at the end of the word James, however this is incorrect.

    Yes a word ending in 's' would have an apostrophe at the end to show possession, but when it is a proper noun ending in 's' then the correct usage is apostrophe s, therefore the correct phrase should read; James's friends.

    Please can the BBC get this right if they are going to judge people's poor grammar.

  • Comment number 29.

    "And Sue Littlemore complained that expectations were high for someone who's been reporting on Education for the past 10 years, saying that you wouldn't expect a Health correspondent to be able to perform surgery."
    What an arrogant idiot! She is a journalist, so we expect both her, and the health correspondent, to have a good command of the English language. Can't the BBC find people with basic literacy skills these days? Or is Sue Littlemore the best we can expect?

  • Comment number 30.

    When will News Editors stop using the word 'after' instead of 'when'? Every time I hear (or see on Ceefax or subscripts) the news stating "3 people were killed after their car crashed . . " I wonder who killed them.
    It should be "killed when", or better still "died when".
    A Martin

  • Comment number 31.

    There was a short BBC survey done today about the correct use of the apostrophe.

    Apparently half the population doesn't have a clue.
    To demonstrate this, people approached on a busy high street were asked to place the apostrophe at the correct place in a prepared example.

    One of the examples prepared by the BBC experts was:

    "James friends"

    According to the BBC experts the correct place of the apostrophe was as in :

    "Jame's friends"

    Except of course that that it is plainly WRONG...

    It should have been :

    "James's friends"

    Which, clearly the carefully prepared BBC example did not allow for.

    If you embark upon teaching grammar on national TV, make sure you get it right!






  • Comment number 32.

    @6

    "Language evolves, as does everything else."

    Not quite.

    The crocodile and the coelocanth haven't changed much in the last 100 million years, compared to their fossilised counterparts. This is probably because any mutation which could significantly affect their outward physical form would only be a deviation away from the perfection of their current state of fit into their respective environments.

    Likewise, what you perceive to be 'evolution' in the English language others, such as myself, perceive to be devolution away from a state of perfection. (Or, if not perfection, something which was at least workable).

    If you do have your way, then I wish you luck when, in your dotage, you attempt to make it understood that you are hungry would like to buy some food since it would be probable that none of the staff would be able to understand what you're saying...

    "I would say for many of the grammatical gripes that people have had, there was never a correct answer in the first place."

    I would say that people in the (not-so-distant) past had so many problems with dialect differences in this country that they mutually decided to aim for standardisation, so that we all had a chance to understand one another with ease, especially when using *forms of mass-communication*.

    Like it or not, rules were laid down. Forms exist which are regarded as 'correct'. I would appreciate it if the BBC did their utmost to maintain these standards.


    "so i welcome any evolution. Even if that does mean loosing things "

    ...like the ability to spell 'losing' properly.

    In the same way that I am often unable to remember what song was sung, only that the singer was 3/17ths of a semitone off-key and that I experienced physical pain as a result, sometimes I find even the most convincing arguments become completely undermined by evidence that the writer cannot be bothered to consult a dictionary and prefers, instead, to slavishly copy the incompetent spelling styles adopted by internet blatherers, the world over.

    Which rather inclines me to believe that the opinions they express are similarly slavish copies of things they read on the internet.

    Yes, I have seen the "language is always evolving" argument used before and I find it irritatng. It's for people who simply can't be bothered to do things right.

    For laughs, I like to ask them whether they work in a hospital or nuclear power plant and, when they say "no", I say "phew!".


    EYG

  • Comment number 33.

    On the BBC1 News at 18:00 today (the 16th November), a female presenter, reporting the death of three teenagers in a car crash, described the vehicle as having ‘span’ out of control. I have heard this expression broadcast several times recently when describing similar incidents. I don’t think that it was the same reporter in all cases, so it would appear that the use of ‘span’ for the past tense of ‘spin’ is yet another corruption of our English language. In the OED, spin and span do not even originate from the same root, so how has this been so widely accepted by all broadcasters. I have never seen the same error in a daily newspaper – not even a ‘red top’.

  • Comment number 34.

    On BBC News today, we again witnessed an error being perpetrated by the Corporation, and not for the first time.

    Members of the public were being invited to indicate the position of the missing apostrophe in a short phrase, something like "James new coat." The interviewer asserted that the correct grammar would be "James' new coat" - WRONG.

    Uniquely, when the forename or surname of an individual ends in "S", the possessive takes apostrophe "S" - as in "James's new coat," "John Perkins's old car," etc.

    However, when the name of a person is used for a company, the usual rule again applies: "Perkins' Luxury Pickles," etc.

    Please get it right! There is no excuse for sloppy grammar - certainly not the hoary old ones of 'an evolving language' and 'effective communication.' As Victor Borge proved with the piano, one has to have a deal of skill with the instrument to be able effectively to play the fool with it.

  • Comment number 35.

    In a recent news item, about a teenager's U-Tube 'tribute' to the Columbine High School murderers, a short clip of the video was shown, which included a title screen, containing the words

    "Two Guys made a Pack"

    ...instead of "Two guys made a pact".

    This is part of what I see as a growing trend in people who are unable to repeat commonly-used phrases properly, in addition to (at other times) being incapable of correct grammar or spelling.

    You can see examples of this almost any time members of the public are allowed to speak on camera.

    If it is members of the public doing it, that is okay - incompetence never fails to raise a giggle - but when BBC News perpetrates a gaffe of this kind it acts as nothing short of an 'official endorsement' and, suddenly, people around me who have used a phrase correctly for years change to the naff version (which grates on me) and I can't escape from it.

    I think that is why people complain so vociferously when they spot mistakes, of any kind, on BBC News broadcasts. The fear of the spread of 'contagion' into their everyday lives.

    For their pains, they may also get labelled, derogatively, as 'pedantic' by other correspondents when all that they are is 'correct'.



    EYG

  • Comment number 36.

    Whilst I remain fuelled with the heady adrenalin of indignation, might I ask for at least sympathy, if not help, with two irritations often emanating from newsreaders and, indeed, most of the population?

    Why does everyone now say 'issues' when they mean 'problems' and 'outcomes' when they mean 'issues'?

    And please, please can we discourage newsreaders in general and weathermen/women in particular from starting every sentence with 'Now...'?

  • Comment number 37.

    One thing that boils my blood is the growing use of the 'f' or 'v' sound when it should be 'th'. For example: nofing; fink; muvver etc. Why can't people pronouce the words correctly?

  • Comment number 38.

    @ 37

    I do that. It's easier and I can talk faster that way.

    When I'm talking politely though I will pronounce things properly.

    Similarly when I am texting I will use abbreviations because I have limited space. When I am writing reports at work I write properly.

    The whole point of communication is getting a point across to someone. The beauty of the English langauge is that there is more than one of doing that. Another is that there are many different variations and dialects. Or are you the sort of person that will chastise northerners for pronouncing graph "graf", (or southerners for ponouncing grass "grarse"), or maybe even the Irish for pronouncing three "tree"?

    Which of these is right? Are any of them wrong?

  • Comment number 39.

    Northerners do pronounce graph 'graf', Southerners pronounce it 'grarf', but there is clearly no second 'r' in the word. That however, is merely a dialectic foible.

    What gets the few remaining hairs on the back of my neck bristling is the use of the word 'ov' when clearly the speaker should be saying 'have', as in "I would ov preferred to speak correctly, but sadly I was educated by teachers who thought that grammar and spelling were unimportant".

  • Comment number 40.

    ""So as not to spoil the surprise, after the programme's shown I'll put the questions themselves up here so you can see how you would do""

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 39

    Yes, but "would ov" comes from the contraction of "would have" to "would've", which is perfectly fine, and "would ov" is merely a dialectic foible, as you so elegantly put it.

  • Comment number 42.

    English is a sibilant language, jammed pack full of s's and 'ss with can confuse. To non-English speakers it sounds like a lot of snakes hissing. (That's why the North Americans used to say things like "white man speak with forked tongue" - because it sounded snake-like to them.)

  • Comment number 43.

    Any chance of loading the grammar test? Or am I looking in the wrong place?

  • Comment number 44.

    Sorry! I've found it!

  • Comment number 45.

    @32

    Since the word 'evolving' carries with it certain connotations, it might be easier if we describe language as simply 'changing over time'. That is to say that it is not necessarily improving, but simply that its usage does change. Some change is absolutely necessary - new words for new inventions or ideas. Sometimes things just change as fashion does, such as my use of a hyphen in the last sentence, where in days gone by I might have used a semi-colon.

    Take the works of late 19th century poets and novelists. Have a quick glance at any Sherlock Holmes story, or at the works of W. B. Yeats, and you will find usage that, while not necessarily incorrect, is certainly archaic, and would sound most unusual were someone to use today. No doubt they would have described the language used in our discussion here as 'decidedly singular'.

    For example, in his beautiful poem 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree', Yeats describes standing on 'the pavements grey'. We would obviously now put the adjective before the noun, but in the 19th century that was acceptable. In truth that usage was already rather old by the time he wrote the poem, and no doubt he wrote it like that partly so that it would rhyme and scan properly, but the reversal also gives the line a sense of antiquity. The point is that the usage is not necessarily incorrect, but it is decidedly old-fashioned; language has changed. To imagine that there was a point in time when it was perfect, to which we could hark back forever, is incorrect.

    Strict adherence to the nicer rules of grammar is not necessarily very helpful. The point of language is to convey meaning; if that is accomplished successfully then the purpose has been achieved. That is not to say that the rules are totally irrelevant; if by ignoring a rule you introduce some ambiguity to the point that you are trying to make, then of course you are at fault.

    Not to take a point seriously because it is imperfectly expressed would be unwise. A clever person, with an important point to make, may very well not have had a perfect education and may not be fully equipped to write perfect english; similarly, a journo with a deadline to meet might have to bash out the copy faster than they would like.

    I wonder whether some people who allow themselves to get excessively annoyed about broken rules of grammar are in fact indulging in a little conceit, enjoying the thoguht that they know better than the writer who has offended them.

    I have my own bugbears of course. I don't mind an honest mistake, but there's a chap who writes memos that go round our office who uses 'who' normally, and lapses into 'whom' when he wants to sound official. I don't think that he has any idea about the difference between subject and object, he simply uses 'whom' as a sort of Sunday best. Now that's annoying!

  • Comment number 46.

    @35

    Whoa, there, EatYerGreens. If you're going to get into correcting people, you have to be more careful than that!

    "...addition to (at other times) being incapable..."

    - That's a split infinitive (to... ...being).

    "The fear of the spread of 'contagion' into their everyday lives."

    - That's not a sentence - you've got a subject, but no verb. The fear of the spread of 'contagion' into their everyday lives... does what?

    I'm not into correcting people - as discussed earlier, it's pointless really, as I understood what you were trying to say. This is a special case though. A good pedant must start by being correct, and then move on from there!

  • Comment number 47.

    As an American, I am always so impressed with the use of proper grammar, punctuation and word usage by our good friends living on the British Isles. Notice, I did not write British Aisles; that may be a mistake an American media person could make as a result of sheer laziness.
    I also feel the one good, if not the only reason, the media SHOULD be held to an higher standard of speech is, grammar, punctuation and word usage is indeed what they, the media study in college, in order to excel at their craft!
    It is horrible when I hear these "talking media heads" use a verb or adverb incorrectly. I have to disagree with those of you, who believe, as long as they the media, make a point, they've done their job properly. How do you know, the point is well made if the use of language is sloppy? Their job is to communicate, as closely to the truth of a story, as possible. When they mispronounce or improperly use, even one word, this error can change the entire meaning of the news item they report! Therefore, I would like to know that, when the media personnae speak to the masses in order to communicate the truth as clearly and accurately as possible, they ARE and SHOULD BE REQUIRED to use proper ENGLISH, NOT fractured Americanised grammar.
    Also, I adore the use of the word "MAL" in lieu of MALL (prounounced MAWL.) When I visit London, I know precisely where the Mal is located. But, if the British people begin to use our American pronunciation MALL aka MAWL, I might stray into any shopping centre with a number of stores enclosed under a roof, and find myself in the wrong place too late for an elaborate celebration that was a once in a life-time event for me.
    To my British friends, PLEASE, do not follow our American laziness with the use of improper language? Please maintain your beautiful language habits, habits that we Americans, become so enchanted when we hear you speak? More to the point, hold your media personalities to an higher standard of language as well, or the news item could be inaccurately reported.
    Thank you very much

  • Comment number 48.

    I suspect the article's author James Mallet is perhaps pleased that in the UK we do not pronounce his name as James Mawlet.

    English being non-phonetic just needs letters to represent words. The sounds do not have to follow the words or the letters. Consider the sounds that the letters 'ough' can represent in the following words:
    through (oo) ; borough (uh) ; trough (off).

  • Comment number 49.

    I'd like to add a couple of "grammar tests"!

    We get a very high usage of "all of" as in "are all of the people OK?" and we also have "repossession" now as a 100% fixed term expression for "foreclosure".

    If anyone spoke of mortgage foreclosures I suspect a few glazed looks now.

  • Comment number 50.

    The English language used by BBC broadcasters is often used as an example for foreign students, and broadcasters should try to live up to their expectations. However, the BBC’s audience comes from many and diverse backgrounds and it is impossible to ignore the fact that language should appeal to a new generation. On the other side, we can be carried away too far, for example, more and more people spell mortgage as morgage or mortage.

  • Comment number 51.

    Stop referring to the United States as "America" it is degrading for the rest of us Americans; Mexico is in North America; Argentina and Uruguay are also part of America.

    "America" is the name of the continent, not of ONE country out of 35!

    The use of "American" to refer exclusively to inhabitants of the United States should be avoided; this abusive usage is explained by the fact that U.S. citizens often use the abbreviated name America to refer to their country. One should not forget that America is the name of the entire continent and all who inhabit it are Americans.
    (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language).

    Carlos Rivera
    Colchester, UK.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think the age of texting and mobile phones is going to be the great demise of the english language and grammar.
    It's bad enough already but in a couple of years the english language will only be a secondary language to text speak.
    its all ur's instead of you're and 2's instead of two. Alan
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

 

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