Not That Big-of-a-Deal

I almost hesitate to complain about evolving English language usage, because English is not just a live, vital language that (not “which”!) is constantly evolving, but also because it is a language that emerged from a convergence of West Germanic, Norman, French, and a smattering of Greek and Latin, among others. Our grammar rules are mostly a mess, as any non-native speaker can tell you. But there are some rules, and as much as I enjoy creativity and invention, we do need some basic guidelines so that we can clearly and effectively communicate.

My biggest irritation at the moment is the heinous use of “big of,” as in “it’s not that big of a deal.” Excuse me? When did this change? It is “that big a deal.” The creeping “of” creeps me out. More knowledgeable people can explain this better than I, so check out:

· Grammarphobia Blog

· Bartleby.com

So, please, please, please, just say no to excessive “of”!

And as long as we’re talking grammar, don’t even get me started on the hyper hyphenation I see everywhere today, including the overly hyphenated (overly-hyphenated? not!) New York Times. See also:

· New York University

· GrammarBook.com

· Grammar Curmudgeon

(P.S. I’m already cringing at the thought that I’ve committed any number of grammatical errors in this article – if I have, do let me know!)