Grammar can be intimidating. I’ve been saying for years that this is a bad thing. Fear isn’t conducive to learning. And it can keep you from ever realizing that grammar is a lot easier, more intuitive and more useful than most people know.
That’s my official position, anyway. But today I’ll make a little confession: Sometimes grammar intimidation is good. You know the times I’m talking about, like when some blowhard corners you at a cocktail party to patronizingly explain how much better off we’d all be with Lyndon LaRouche in charge. Or at family gatherings when your hot-shot brother-in-law is trying to make you feel small because you didn’t buy Goldman Sachs stock until after Warren Buffett did.
Those are the times when you want to reach for a blunt weapon. And in my experience, no legal weapon can inflict more damage on a deserving opponent than grammar jargon. So, as the holidays threaten to usher in social events overrun with know-it-all uncles and diamond-flaunting cousins, have a few of these terrifying grammar terms at the ready.