Here’s a math conundrum that only a grammar person can explain: If one person has one grammar question, how many grammar questions do 100 people have? Mathematically speaking, it would make sense to guess 100. Statistically speaking, it would make sense to guess somewhere between one and 100. But only in the grammar world does one times 100 equal zero.
Allow me to explain.
On Nov. 6 I had the honor of serving as a guest speaker at the Sacramento conference of the California Assn. of College Stores, the group representing those campus retailers who sell everything from textbooks to T-shirts. As always, I ended the talk with a question-and-answer session, encouraging people to ask any and all grammar questions they might have. One woman had a question about reference books. One man had a question about William Safire. But none of the roughly 100 people present had a grammar question.