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It's spring cleaning time — an opportunity to sweep out dust bunnies lurking in recesses of recent reading.

Let's start with various forms of disagreement between singular and plural elements in a sentence.

1. "Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are both 34, and neither have been engaged or married yet."


The word "neither" means neither one (singular), so we have to make it, "neither has been engaged or married yet." Better, to economize, lose the word "yet."

2. "In Nazi Germany in the thirties, there were a number of foreign correspondents who left Berlin."

No, again.

The writer has been seduced by the plural word "correspondents"; the subject – "number" – is singular; "were" applies to plural. Instead, write, "a number of foreign correspondents left Berlin," economizing by eliminating "there were." That's the way to strengthen any sentence that starts with "There were."

3. "In December, as Nikki Haley climbed in the polls, MAGA loyalists like Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon offered a preview of these sort of slashing attacks."

No, yet again: the word "sort" is singular; the word "these" designates plural. Make it "these sorts."

In my last column, I wrote that the past tense of sink is not sunk, as so many people write and say it, but sank.

The New York Times language columnist John McWhorter recently challenged grammar purists:

"Some, to be sure, hear that usage of 'sunk' as an egregious mistake, but there comes a point when a usage is so common that we must consider it not slovenliness but change. 'Sunk' is now quite often used as the past tense form."

To me, some change makes sense; none would pass muster with my sixth-grade English teacher Miss Moore, a purist.

Ramrod-straight in mind, frame and spirit, she insisted: Never end a sentence with a preposition; never start a sentence with "and" or "but."

But the passage of time and major shifts in usage have eroded those dictums. Please let me know about any incorrect grammatical form you now find acceptable. And why.

Me? I'm sticking with "sank."

Gary Gilson can be reached through