Friday, December 19, 2008

Grammar Lesson of the Day

I was reading my usual blogs when I came across Dr. Mom's post on grammatical tips for writing, and while I did mention my most prominent pet peeve of the misplaced only, I decided to write this post rather than make an entire post-length comment on her blog.

I have heard this commercial on the radio too many times (well, more than zero times is too many times) where they say "All countertops are not created equal."  Whenever I hear that I want to dig my ears out with a spoon!

The proper negation of "All countertops are created equal" is "Not all countertops are created equal" -- okay, people?!?!

The reason is this: let's say you're going around examining countertops, and you come across one that is unequal (whatever that even means!).  Then, you have found a counterexample to the hypothesis of "All countertops are created equal."  There could still be some countertops that are equal, but there exists at least one countertop that is unequal.  Therefore you have shown that "Not all countertops are created equal," but since there exist some countertops that are still equal, you cannot say that "All countertops are not created equal," since clearly, there are some countertops that are equal.


Ginger said...

I'm not nearly as good at grammar as you are. I agree with your point, but shouldn't it be "equally". Adverb modifies the verb created? Just wondering

Rebecca said...

Good question, Ginger! I think it depends on what you're modifying. I guess I think of equal modifying countertop rather than created, so it should be an adjective rather than an adverb. But if you were trying to say that the process by which they were created was unequal, then definitely, it should be "equally."