Vandals, check your grammar

Beth Biskobing, an English teacher in Milwaukee teacher, is fed up with  illiterate graffiti. Seeing “Where da bitches at?” on a police call box and a road construction sign in her neighborhood, she duct-taped red fliers to the tags.

“Your tag SHOULD read as follows: Where are the female dogs?”

. . . “The use of the verb are allows you to write a COMPLETE SENTENCE. (Without it, you have a fragment, of course – missing the predicate of the sentence. The subject is dogs.)” she wrote.

. . .  Beth pointed out that the and da are not interchangeable. And at, being the preposition that it is, doesn’t belong at the end of a sentence.

Via Nothing To Do With Arbroath..

About Joanne


  1. Tracy W says:

    I liked the detail about one of her students who said this was so geeky it was almost cool.

  2. Mark Roulo says:

    Must watch this:

    -Mark Roulo

  3. Independent George says:

    I hated Apple’s ‘Think Different’ ad campaign for precisely this reason. I always had to suppress the urge to scrawl an ‘LY’ to the end of every poster.

  4. linda seebach says:

    God save us from peevologists who don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing wrong in principle with prepositions at the end of English sentences. (Ask Language Log.)

    And why should graffiti be written in complete sentences anyway? Lots of informal speech and writing is not. It’s wrong, but that’s not what’s wrong with it.

  5. Linda, there are plenty of people who will say that the rules have changed, but I don’t buy that argument. What has changed is the number of people, including teachers and administrators at all levels, that are willing to accept common speech patterns as correctly written English. I was taught, and made sure my kids were, that “a preposition is something you never end a sentence with”. I also had a college freshman English professor who would not give a grade above C to any work, in-class or out, which had a split infinitive. That was also before computers.

  6. Chris D says:

    How about replacing some of those pointless Teacher Ed classes with studies in linguistics? “Where da bitches at?” is indisputably grammatical in the African American Vernacular English (AAVE) dialect, and indisputably appropriate for an informal genre such as graffiti. It’s sad that Language Arts (English) teachers are often uninformed and uncurious about the facts of language use. What teachers can and should do is help such students to *add* another dialect, Standard American English, and learn the contexts in which its use is appropriate and advantageous.

    As another commenter suggests, visit Language Log ( for theory- and data-based insights into the richness and complexity of actual language use. It’s run by linguists, those scientists who study language. See also the writings of linguist John McWhorter in “Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of a ‘Pure’ Standard English.” He has a chapter about the 1990s Oakland school board debate on AAVE.

  7. Lightly Seasoned says:

    What I love about these grammar posts is counting the usage errors in the comments. It brings me a perverse sort of joy.

  8. …and if they can’t read a grammar lesson, there is always video:

  9. Doug Sundseth says:

    Faux rules; got to love ’em.

    There is not now, and never has been, a rule in English prohibiting either prepositions at the end of sentences or split infinitives. Both have been in continual use by educated writers in edited prose throughout the history of the language. Neither is deprecated by any reputable usage expert.

    For an article on split infinitives, see

    For an article on sentence-final prepositions, see

    And for the issue of errors in grammatical peeves, see

    (Sentence-initial “and” is perfectly grammatical, too.)

  10. …and if you live in Milwaukee, keep your pets indoors.

  11. Sigivald says:

    Momof: Given that the “rule” in question was invented out of whole cloth by Dryden in the 17th century, I see no reason why it should be worshiped today.

    That you were taught it doesn’t, however, make it “The Rule” that Standard English is obliged to obey. One can be taught all manner of fallacious rules by schoolmen, after all.