Is this good grammar anymore?

Whether is grammatical or not depends on whether you’re talking about prescriptivist or descriptivist grammar. (this is an issue that is discussed a lot in introductory linguistics classes)

Prescriptivist: “This is the way you should talk. Infinitives should not be split, sentences should not end with prepositions, anymore should only be used in negative sentences …” That kind of thing. A lot of these rules were based on the grammatical rules of Latin, but I don’t know about the use of anymore.

Descriptivist: “In certain areas, the word anymore is used in affirmative sentences thusly: [insert appropriate examples here; this isn’t part of my dialect, so I dunno]. Also, speakers often split infinitives and sentences can sound very awkward when the speaker goes out of their way to avoid ending prepositions.”

Well crikey. Speaking of grammar, make that “Whether it is grammatical or not …”

– Dragonblink, who’s spent the last several hours studying comparative and internal linguistic reconstruction.

Bryan Garner’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1998):

Unless it appears in a negative statement, this word is dialectical in the sense “nowadays.”

Well… what the OP said:

“Abuse of grammar” has connotations beyond propriety. People who use the phrase you asked about in the OP are not abusing grammar. Even “speaking improperly” suggests some kind of error is being made by the speaker, instead of what the argument against the usage actually is… a difference of opinion.

No, I understood what you were asking. I just gave you a more precise answer than you wanted… that while the phrase is not proper in certain contexts, it’s also not an abuse of grammar.

The rant in my last post, though, was probably not a good idea. It’s pretty tangential to the subject. I apologize. To Waverly specifically.


One source of confusion is that some people, even including Waverly, have referred to this both as grammar and usage. Changes in meanings of words is a matter of usage, not grammar. Grammar is usually quite stable; usage changes radically over time. The problem stems from the fact that thousands of words are in the process of changing (or adding) meanings at any given time, and these will span a spectrum from “virtually everybody considers acceptable” to “virtually nobody considers acceptable.”

No two people, even good writers and “usage” authorities, ever completely agree on the acceptability factor of every one of these thousands of words. Check out the opinions of the experts in the famed usage poll in the American Heritage Dictionary. Each word polled will be accepted by a different set of experts; and if you check the polls from various editions you will find that these experts will change their minds over time.

Usage guides are one source of guidance as to the acceptability of a usage in formal or careful writing. They are not intended to make statements about casual, informal, or everyday speech. But like the side of the medicine bottle says, they can be very beneficial if “used as directed.”

The ones I referred to as classics, which can be another way of saying that they are slightly out-of-date or overly conservative. I got them when I was a younger writer; I haven’t bought one in years. (Hey, I’m a professional of thirty years standing – I make my own decisions. Mostly.) If you refer to a usage guide frequently you should get one as current as possible.

Thank you, but there is really no need. Irregardless of our disagreement, it’s been an interesting discussion nevertheless.

I’d be at a loss to quite describe the difference sufficiently, but I do feel there is one between an idiomatic usage, and usage that is bends a word’s commonly understood meaning.

‘Anymore’ has been defined as conveying a demarcation in time in a statement with a negative connotation. If it’s used as a synonym for ‘now’ or ‘nowadays’, it’s not just novel usage, but could lead a casual listener or reader to incorrectly interpret the statement as a negative.

“It’s a nice to find a good Italian restaurant anymore”

I have to paraphrase for an example, as I can’t remember the exact words, but someone said something similar to me recently. That statement, on its own, is difficult to interpret. Accustomed to hearing ‘anymore’ in negative statements, one has to wonder if the person is enjoying their meal.