Grammar Grump

September 4, 2010

I find myself today worrying about the disappearing ed. The oldest example I know is the infamous “fine toothed comb”. As this venerable expression is often heard and rarely written, most folk find themselves thoughtlessly talking of a “fine tooth comb”. Most days you just let this glide past, and then suddenly you stop your conversation partner and grumpily enquire ‘What sir precisely is a toothcomb ?”

Unfortunately for the grammar grump, some dictionaries give “fine-tooth comb” as a valid alternative to “fine toothed comb”. But more distressing, the toothcomb is no longer alone. I read a restaurant menu offering Cumberland sausage with “mash potato”. A few days later I saw an advert for Lipton’s “ice tea”. Ed’s friend ing can go too. I heard someone saying they were going for their drive test.

Standing back from life, I know this is language evolution in action. And of course, evolution is always driven by errors. So its all good.

But I still can’t help harrumphing.