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In traditional grammar, a solecism is a phrase that trespasses the rules of grammar.[1] The word was originally used by the Greeks for what they perceived as mistakes in their language. Ancient Athenians considered the dialect of the inhabitants of their colony Soli in Cilicia to be a corrupted form of their own pure Attic dialect, full of "solecisms" (Greek: σολοικισμοί, soloikismoí; sing.: σολοικισμός, soloikismós).


Name Type of grammatical breach Example
Catachresis Wrong agreement between verb and subject "He ain't going nowhere" for "He isn't [or "he's not"] going anywhere" or "he is going nowhere" (dialectical usage; see "ain't" and double negative)
Catachresis Wrong grammatical case "This is just between you and I" for "This is just between you and me" (hypercorrection to avoid the common "you and me" form in the predicate of copulative sentences, even though "me" is the standard pronoun for the object of a preposition or the object of a verb).

"Whom shall I say is calling?" for "Who shall I say is calling?" (hypercorrection resulting from the perception that "whom" is a formal version of "who" or that the pronoun is functioning as an object when, in fact, it is a subject [One would say, "Shall I say she is calling?]. The leading pronoun could only be an object if "say" were used transitively and the sentence structured thus: "Whom shall I say to be calling?")

Catachresis Unconventional prefix Irregardless for regardless (nonstandard usage from analogy with constructions like "irreverent," "irrespective," and "irrevocable," where the negative prefix "in-" changes to "ir-" but becomes redundant because of "-less")
Catachresis Double subject "The woman, she is here" for "The woman is here" or "She is here" (nonstandard usage with the double subject "she")
Catachresis Double negative "She can't hardly sleep" for "She can hardly sleep" (a double negative, as both "can't" and "hardly" have a negative meaning)
Catachresis Double copula "The issue is, is his attitude is poor." for "The issue is his attitude is poor."
Catachresis Wrong copula "The reason being..." for "The reason is..."


What is considered a solecism in one register of a language might be acceptable usage in another. For example, "The world keeps turning for you and I" (10cc) may be more acceptable in a song (see Artistic license) than in prose.[according to whom?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bryan A Garner (2001). A dictionary of modern legal usage. Oxford University Press. p. 816. ISBN 978-0-19-514236-5. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of solecism at Wiktionary