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Useful Notes on the English Grammatical Features in Twentieth Century

December 24, 2018 0 Comment

Ten kilometres is not a long distance.

Rice and fish is his favourite dish.

The survey conducted by Quirk and his team, published in the form of their famous book of grammar, makes it evident, however, that native speakers of English during the twentieth century started using certain rules of proximity concord in addition to the traditionally established rules of grammatical concord and notional concord.

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The rules of English grammar until recently have been insisting, for example, that if a noun phrase beginning with either of or neither of functions as the subject of a sentence, the verb of that sentence must be singular.

This rule about subjects beginning with either of and neither of has been based on the principle of grammatical concord and also on the principle of notional concord. Because of the rules of grammatical concord and notional concord, the first two of the following sentences have been considered correct and the last two of the following sentences have always been declared incorrect.

Either of the boys has to be punished.

Neither of the two teachers has objected to that.

Either of the boys has to be punished.

Neither of the two teachers have objected to that.

On the basis of the survey conducted by them, Quirk, et al. have made it clear, however, that sentences like the last two of the four sentences listed above have also become part of English usage now.

Because of the rule of grammatical concord and notional concord, sentences like the first of the following sentences have always been considered correct and those like the second one have always been considered incorrect.

She is one of those students who are never here on time. She is one of those students who is never here on time.

Quirk, et al. have evidence to show, however, that because of the rule of proximity concord, sentences like the second one are also acceptable now to the users of English.

The Use of Shall and Will:

Until about the end of the first few decades of the twentieth century the rule about the use of shall and will was that if it is a matter of indicating a colourless and neutral future, shall should be used in the case of first person pronouns and will in the case of second and third person pronouns. According to this rule shall and will have to be used as in the following sentences:

I shall go to London tomorrow.

We shall go to London tomorrow.

He will go to London tomorrow.

They will go London tomorrow.

Talking about this rule, Quirk, ET al. have said the following:

A strong teaching tradition, especially in BrE, has upheld the use of shall as the correct form, in preference to will, with a first person subject in formal style.

But in spite of this “strong teaching tradition”, will is now being freely used in the case of first person pronouns as it is in the case of second and third person pronouns. For the purpose of indicating a colourless and neutral future, shall is now rarely used, if at all, particularly in American English.

The Disappearance of Till:

Till and until have the same meaning. Each of the two can be used as a preposition and also as a conjunction. During the second half of the twentieth century, till was, however, virtually pushed out of use by until, particularly in formal contexts.

Addition to the Inherited List of Conjunctions:

The word plus is now used as an additive conjunction in non- numerical contexts and, similarly, the word minus is used as a preposition meaning without. This non-numerical use of plus and minus can be found in sentences like the following:

The baby had measles plus pneumonia.

At a place like this you can earn more money plus you can enjoy your life better.

I hope she would visit us minus her naughty children.

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