Famously, Tellingly, Worryingly


Welcome to the American Conversation

I’ve been noticing for the past ten years how many speakers and writers have changed the syntax of words in ways that I don’t like.

The oldest examples are the ways that articles and prepositions have been disappearing:

You don’t graduate from high school anymore, you graduate high school

It’s not the prom anymore, it’s Prom.

will you go to prom with me

More recently, I have noticed that the word “fun” which used to be simply a noun, has also become an adjective:

We had a fun time.


(not to mention how “bottom line” has lost its article and become endemic)

The word “famous” which was used as an adjective, and then as a noun ( Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous) and then as an adverb ( We got along famously) has now become an adjective:

Henry Ford famously said “History is bunk.”


Television and advertising are responsible for many of these, which have come into common usage. In my college students’ essays, I find

A revelation has become “the reveal”

A reward or lesson learned has become “the takeaway”


‘the” has been replaced with “that” ( She worked to achieve that desired weight)

Cause for Concern has become “concerning”

And so many participles have become adjectives by adding “ly” to the “ing” ending .

I could go on, but these are the first to come to mind.

The English Language is a living thing, and so it keeps changing. I guess I am an old grump, but these bother me.

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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