Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ALOTT5MA FRIDAY GRAMMAR RODEO SEASON-ENDING BIG GAME EDITION:  The WaPo has a story which will gladden my father regarding two undocumented Irish attendees of Sunday's football game, but I couldn't help but wonder ...
Two Irish guys sneaked into the Super Bowl without tickets and snagged $25,000 seats
Would you have used "snuck" instead?


  1. Joseph Finn5:26 PM


    What, you want justification?

  2. Jordan5:27 PM

  3. bill.6:48 PM

    Both are correct. Sneaked is the standard past tense and the older usage. Snuck is the newer, nonstandard past tense.

    If you're a hypercorrect prescriptivist you'll use sneaked. Everyone else will use the perfectly fine, and better sounding, snuck.

  4. If you'll refer to your copy of "The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage," it devotes just over a fascinating page to "sneak, snuck."

    Sneak first turns up in Shakespeare in 1605 of unknown background. Snuck also has an unknown origin, just popping up in late 19th century North America.

    "In summary we can say that in about a century "snuck" has gone from an obscure and probably dialectical variant of the past and past participle to a standard, widely used variant that is about as common as the older "sneaked." Some evidence suggests it may become the predominant form in North American English. Occurrence in British English is rare but not unknown. "

  5. The Pathetic Earthling2:26 PM

    Anyone who uses that word should be hanged.

  6. I would probably use "sneaked" if I was writing for publication but "snuck" in conversation or casual writing.

    Now, can someone help me out with "dived" vs "dove"? (NO BIRD JOKES, YOU SMARTASSES.)

  7. M-W Dictionary of American Usage (1989): "most recent [usage books] accept both as correct. The usage of dove is really governed by geography rather than by social class or notions of correctness."

    Dove is the prevalent past tense in the northern U.S. and some parts of Canada. ...spreading southward... having become common in eastern South Carolina and Georgia.

    ...One notable enclave of dived in the northeastern U.S. is the editorial offices of the New York Times...

    Although dived is somewhat more common in writing in the U.S., dove is an acceptable variant."

  8. Jordan4:07 PM

    The set up for my favorite joke in Blazing Saddles: