Magazine October 19, 2020, Issue

A New Socratic Dialogue: Part 2 of 3

(Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Is our educational system impoverished by the lack of instruction in grammar? I set forth opposing views in the form of a dialogue between stalwart interlocutors. This is the second part of a three-part series.

Socrates: Tell me, Aristophanes, what are the problems that grammatical education is intended to remedy?

Aristophanes: For example, people are messing up irregular verbs: drink–drank–drunk, sling–slung–slung, spring–sprang–sprung, strive–strove–striven.

Socrates: What of it?

Aristophanes: People don’t know the difference between a simple past tense and a past participle. It’s putting them at a disadvantage.

Socrates: What else?

Aristophanes: Pronouns. Lots of people are saying Jimmy and me are going to the store

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Bryan A. Garner — Mr. Garner is the author of The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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