H. W. Fowler

From Teflpedia

Henry Watson Fowler (1858–1933) was a lexicographer and grammarian who, together with his brother, F. G. Fowler, compiled major authoritative works on the English language.

He was noted for his typically common-sensical remarks regarding usage of English and liked to have a dig at commonly-held beliefs.

Classic Fowler... Fowlerian quips & Fowleresque[edit]

  • Preposition (at end): "It is a cherished superstition that prepositions must, in spite of the incurable English instinct for putting them late,... be kept true to their name, & placed before the word they govern. 'A sentence ending in a preposition is an elegant sentence' represents a very general belief. The fact is that the remarkable freedom enjoined in English in putting its prepositions late & omitting its relative is an important element in the flexibility of the language....".[1]
  • Split infinitive: "The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and distinguish. Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, and are happy folk, to be envied."[2]
  • Whose: “Let us, in the name of common sense, prohibit the prohibition of whose inanimate; good writing is surely difficult enough without the forbidding of things that have historical grammar, and present intelligibility, and obvious convenience, on their side”. (Modern English Usage (1926)).[3]



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