Dear Abby on gender-neutral "guys"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Feb 26 14:54:08 UTC 2008

At 3:37 AM -0500 2/26/08, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>Turns out the use of "guys" for female referents rankles a lot of
>"Dear Abby" readers...
>--Ben Zimmer
Dear Abby's Grammar/Lexicon Watch goes back a 
ways, whether mom or daughter was writing it.  I 
like her reader's no-nonsense way of disposing 
with the "All is not lost"/"All that glitters is 
not gold" construction.  (Unlike the simple 
matters of personal morality she's fond of 
adjudicating, though, these controversial usage 
questions are ones on which Abby herself 
carefully avoids taking a stand of her own.)

Dear Abby column, 4.9.02


DEAR READERS: A while back, I wrote a column on 
the misuse of words and other irritants and named 
a few. I then asked readers to send their pet 
peeves concerning common mistakes in grammar and 
pronunciation. How's this for a collection?

The "lie" and "lay" confusion: To "lay" means to 
set or put; to "lie" means to recline. Remember, 
chickens  lay eggs. People lie down.

The use of "all are not" when the person means 
"not all are." Example: Saying, "All women are 
not beautiful," when one means, "Not all women 
are beautiful."

We frequently hear "between you and I." Wrong! 
It's "between you and me." Another irritant is 
"try and" instead of "try to." For example, one 
may try to win -- then lose. But how can one try 
and win -- and then lose?

[and so on, to the sins of "irregardless", using 
"that" a relative pronoun with a human 
antecedent, etc. etc.]


The American Dialect Society -

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