GrammarPhile Blog

Official Changes in the English Language?

Posted by Conni Eversull   Jan 18, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Today, I thought I'd share a question from a visitor to our site and the response given by Phil Jamieson, president of

This is an actual question posed by a reader through our Ask the Grammar Experts section of our website. We didn't make this up nor did we pay our reader for this question! But it certainly speaks to our passions here at

Question from a concerned reader

Are official changes taking place in the English language that I'm not aware of? I'm noticing that grammar errors are occurring in publications with such frequency that the average person has accepted these errors as correct. For instance, the phrase "every day" has now become the adjective "everyday" in all instances; the use of the possessive pronoun before a gerund has almost totally disappeared, and the correct use of an apostrophe is totally unknown. What is the current accepted use of the above issues?


Thank you for your question via our website. We love hearing from readers!
There are no 'official' changes taking place in the English language, mostly because there is no official to regulate the English language. Nor could there be, English being a mix of so many other languages over a long period of time, continuing up to this very minute, I suppose. Unlike France, the United States has no official government agency in charge of the language. Pity, too. There is SO much to regulate. Given two presidents in a row who do not know how to use personal pronouns properly (and the second of the two going even further and gushing over some 'gangsta' called Lil' Wayne as his fave singer), the dumbing down of the language is sure to escalate.
With the proliferation of communication tools, change is far more rapid today than ever before. And new forms are at work on the language, e.g., texting, e-mailing, and tweeting. And so you see in your lifetime - in fact, in a decade - how new words are coming into use. The verb 'google' comes to mind. So does 'tweet.' Who knows? Perhaps BFF and IMHO will become new 'words' someday.
We try our best to regulate according to conventional rules here at every day. I suppose one could say that regulating our clients' English is an everyday passion. All this is to say that we know what you mean about everyday/every day. We see that mistake, every day. Woe to the proofreader who misses it.
I would not say that everyday has replaced every day in "all instances," nor would I say that apostrophes are misused totally. In all instances and totally by some, perfectly and always by others, and often confused by many, yes. But not all the time by everybody...yet.
We take comfort in the fact that our customers are still asking us for help, and as long as they are, there is hope. When it gets to the point where copywriters at General Motors, Liberty Mutual and Cleveland Clinic (customers all) say they don't give a damn, that people know what they mean anyway, then we'll retire as we know it and ask NASA (not Nassau, as one customer actually wrote) to rocket us and all our proofreaders to another world where they still care about how they speak and write.
The current state of everyday/every day, gerunds and possessives, and apostrophes applied correctly is described in your nearest Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. We count on that great book. I hope you will too.
Very truly yours,
Phil Jamieson

Topics: English language, punctuation, pronouns, Chicago Manual of Style

Subscribe to Email Updates

Sign up for our emails!

Sign Up

Search Our Blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all