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What’s the difference between descriptivism and prescriptivism?

Descriptive rules try to describe how native speakers of a language use it, while prescriptive rules tell speakers how they should use language.

Many people think that it is “better English” to say “To whom were you talking?” rather than “Who were you talking to?”. The underlying “rule”, “Don’t put a preposition at the end of the sentence” is a prescriptive rule. However, it is perfectly grammatical (i.e. possible) to put a preposition at the end of a sentence (such as in the example above). It is thus a descriptive rule to say that in English you can put a preposition at the end of a sentence.

Nina M. GCSE German tutor, A Level English Language tutor, GCSE Engli...

8 months ago

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Nina M.

Degree: Linguistics and English Language (Bachelors) - Edinburgh University

Subjects offered: English Language, German

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“Who are you and what do you do? I am a 20-year-old Linguistics and English Language student at the University of Edinburgh. “What is Linguistics?” you ask? Linguistics is the science of language. It’s about how language works, on ...”

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