Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Car Ride Grammar Debates


My wife and I are driving to the cemetery to put some flowers on her grandmother's grave. We're talking about random things. Suddenly, for some reason, we begin debating the grammatical principles for the word "porn."

Me - Something something something something porns.

WIFE - Did you just say "porns"?

ME - ...yeah?

WIFE - You don't say "porns" you say "porn."

ME - ...No you don't.

WIFE - Yes you do. You don't say, "I have a bunch of porns on my computer." You say, "I have a bunch of porn on my computer."

ME - You can say that. But it depends on if you're referring to the conglomerate idea of "porn" or if you're referring to individual titles.

WIFE - No it doesn't! It's like "deer." You have one deer, you have twenty deer.

ME - No, it's like dollars. Dollars can be singular when referring to an amount of money, or it can be plural when referring to the bills.

WIFE - No it can't!

ME - Yes it can! "Five dollars is a lot of money." Dollars is singular in that instance. "Dollars are used in America." Dollars is plural in that instance because you're referring to the individual bills.

WIFE - No it isn't. That's why people say "dollar bills" instead of "dollars." You're wrong.


WIFE - You're wrong, and you're face is stupid, and porn is correct.

ME - In some instances. But not in every case. If you're referring to individual porn titles, then you can say "porns" as a collective.

WIFE - No you can't.

ME - YES YOU CAN! You can say "I have a bunch of porn on my computer." That's referring to the nebulous, conglomerate "porn" as a concept. Or you can say "I have several porns on my movie shelf." In that instance, you're referring to individual titles as a collective.

WIFE - You are so wrong on this.

ME - No I'm not! I'm telling you, English isn't so basic and black and white. Words and how they function can change depending on the context. It's the same reason that verbs can SOMETIMES be subjects because they can act like nouns.

WIFE - Whatever. You're wrong on this. Pull in here.