What Your Grammar Reveals about Where You Grew Up


Have you ever heard someone from another region of the country utter a sentence you knew in your head just wasn’t grammatically correct? Instead of them being crazy, it could just be that particular turn of phrase is common in their part of the United States.

The Yale Grammatical Diversity Project set out to study this interesting phenomenon:

‘Unlike variation in phonology (often referred to as accent) and in the lexicon (different words), variation in grammatical systems within English has for the most part not been systematically investigated,’ says Larry Horn, professor of linguistics and philosophy at Yale University.

‘This variation may be found among speakers who live in a certain geographical region, or who belong to a certain age group, or to a particular social or ethnic group,’ he adds.

During the past year, members of the project have been conducting nationwide surveys using an online crowdsourcing platform asking for people’s judgment on sentences.

The researchers were not interested in what is considered to be correct grammar, but in what people do naturally.

As well as the map, the team has also created a comprehensive guide that lists the different types of sentence structures used.

H/T Daily Mail

Using the map below, you can explore the differences in grammar in different parts of the country.

I will always remember being aghast at hearing a friend from Texas in high school saying, “This needs burned.” It was like nails on a chalkboard inside my head. But it turns out, that (incorrect!) sentence structure is common in some areas of the country, while it is unheard of in the Northeast, where I’m from.

What are some unique grammar phrases in your neck of the woods and were you surprised at any on the list? Sign in and comment below!


Alexa is a freelance writer and communications consultant, with experience working on the Hill, at the RNC, and for... More about Alexa

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