What Is Correct English?

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What Is Correct English?

What is correct English? What does it mean to speak correctly? Very simply, correct language usage is that which conveys to your intended audience the impression you would like to give them. If your readers or listeners are college professors or academic colleagues, the appropriate language is a fairly formal variety of Standard English (SE). The deference due to business contacts and clients also merits a fairly polished level of language usage, while other environments may demand very different modes of communication.

Education
An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't. - Anatole France

This preferred SE language standard (See Prof. Lynch's discussion of Standard English) is associated with educated speakers of the language and, although there exist minor differences between the SE of different regions and countries, in most cases these are minor spelling or pronunciation variations which do not in any way interfere with comprehension of written material from one English speaking country to another. In all important respects, there does exist a universal English standard (see Formal Written English).

Education
An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't. - Anatole France

The vast majority of English grammar and style rules are not in dispute (see Disbutes in English Grammar). Those targeted by standard exams such as the SAT and others are deserving of study and close observance. Although breaking rules may well be an appropriate device to use from time to time for emphasis or effect and has certainly been done extensively for that purpose by many great literary figures, one must always consider what impression such infringements will give one's readers. In general, failure to break a rule rarely results in criticism or gives offense, while the commission of an infraction may. If one does not know one's audience well enough to rule out the possibility of a negative response, it is probably best not to risk provoking one.

Education
Learning is free and attainable by anyone with the Internet. Recognized degrees, on the other hand, are still controlled and expensive. See Accreditation.

Some common grammar rules are questionable and indeed the arguments in favor of some commonly eschewed usages have been convincingly refuted. However, the audience-impression argument is still the ineluctable determinant of expressive suitability. If there is a likelihood that a split infinitive, a synesis error, or use of "none" as a plural noun may be perceived as an error (whether or not this perception is nonsense), it is simply better to avoid the usage in question. (See erroneous errors.)


The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives. - Robert M. Hutchins



The idea is to educate, not follow anyone's schedule about when something should be studied. - Ray Drouillard