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Today, some pungent responses from readers ready to accept ungrammatical usages.

"I tend to follow the rules of grammar," said Maren Swanson, a retired lawyer in Burnsville, "but one I hate and tend not to follow is the 'proper' use of the word 'whom.' Why? Because it is hardly used in everyday speech, it looks and sounds phony/pseudo-intelligent, and, most importantly, it draws attention to itself rather than to the substance of what is being written or said. I wish the 'rule' were changed."

Grant me a vote, please, and I will throw in with Maren. I can't abide saying, or any longer writing, things like "Whom do you love?" or "Whom are the Minnesota Lynx playing tonight?"

Jim Hazzard, a Minneapolis engineer, challenged another rule:

"How about: 'He is taller than me'? Clearly incorrect; it obviously has to be: 'He is taller than I (am).' But using 'me' is so ubiquitous, it sounds weird to say 'I'."

Gordon Hughes of Eden Prairie, a retired city manager, challenged me, saying, in essence, "Hey, Gary, you don't know everything." He's got me there:

"Either you erred or my 10th-grade grammar teacher in 1966 did! Miss Wick taught us that 'the number' is a singular subject but 'a number' is a plural subject. Thus, 'there were a number of foreign correspondents who left Berlin' is a plural."

I'll buy that.

Do you buy, or reject, these readers' views on breaking rules of grammar?

This column pays annual homage to three lovers of language for their priceless advice to readers: Joseph Conrad, who said his task was to make a reader hear, feel and, above all, see what he was writing about; and Pete Hamill, who said, simply, "Read."

Now, lilting wisdom from that third sage — Jack Teagarden, the great jazz trombonist who sang these lines, among my favorites in the English language:

"Say it simple, so I can understand,

Use all the easy words at your command.

Don't tell lies, I never cared for fiction,

Talk real clear, don't want no friction with your diction."

Gary Gilson can be reached through