Saturday, April 10, 2004

It's all well and good

The Deseret Morning News has a story on the new grammar section of the SAT that takes effect next March. It says the test will include:
An essay (for which about 20 minutes will be allotted) on an assigned, but general, topic.
• A multiple-choice grammar section in which students specify the part of a given sentence that contains an error.
• A multiple-choice syntax section in which students select the most well-constructed sentence or the best-organized paragraph from several options.
It will be worth 500 of the SAT's 2,400 points (21 percent). I let out a cheer.

But I do have a quibble with the lede of the story:
James Brown feels good. The Stones can't get no satisfaction. You've got mail. Ten items or less. Got milk?
Butchered English has begun to play a leading role in today's pop culture, and a new grammar section on SAT exams could be bad news for some students in the college entrance race.
Feels good? What's wrong with that? Nothing.

AP explains:
Good is an adjective that means something is as it should be or is better than average.

When used as an adjective, well means suitable, proper, healthy. When used as an adverb, well means in a satisfactory manner or skillfully.

Good should not be used as an adverb. It does not lose its status as an adjective in a sentence such as I feel good. Such a statement is the idiomatic equivalent of I am in good health. An alternative, I feel well, could be interpreted as meaning that your sense of tough was good.
As for the "Got milk?" item, it's not eloquent, but it certainly is catchy -- advertising genious. And just look at all the copycats out there, probably even in your publication. Got lemons? Got plans? Got kids? Got script? Got Money? Got Time? (Got old? This is where I remind the audience that this campaign is more than 10 years old. Riffs on it should be used with caution. Save 'em up till it really works.)


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