How the Grinch Stole Grammar!

(With apologies to Dr Seuss)

Every Who down in Who-ville liked English a lot
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!
Whenever he thought of the language, he’d languish
In horrified anger and furious anguish!
But the funny thing was that beneath all this hate
He somehow believed, well, that English was great.
But it wasn’t the English the Whos wrote and spoke –
No! THAT made him scowl! Made him fume! Made him choke!
Made him choke!
Made him choke!

So what on earth was it the innocent Whos
Were doing so wrong with the language they’d use?
If you were to walk into Who-ville one day
You’d see lots of people with fine things to say.
They’d joke and exclaim and they’d promise and sing,
They’d chat and debate – yes, they’d do anything
That this wonderfully versatile language can do,
And all would be happy – except you-know-who!

The Grinch couldn’t stand it! It just wasn’t RIGHT!
He’d wince at the sound and recoil at the sight
Of the writing and speech that prevailed in the town,
That were dragging the standards of English right down.
“They’re lazy and loose in the use of our tongue,”
He muttered one day, when he felt highly strung.
“With their texts and their tweets and their ignorant yammer
They vandalise words and they ruin good grammar!
They break half the rules, and the others they bend;
If all this continues, then where will it end?”
With that, he resolved that it HAD to be stopped
So he got on his horse and he clipped and he clopped
And he rode into Who-ville, and reached the town square
And he gruffly addressed the large crowd he found there.

“My friends!” the Grinch cried, “You are all in great need
Of grammatical guidance. I beg you to heed
My advice about language before it’s too late
To return English back to its orderly state!”
At this, all the Whos were completely confused;
They’d had no idea that their words were misused
But they gazed at the Grinch, who seemed so agitated,
And waited,
Breath bated,
To hear what he hated.

He hated a lot! As he harshly explained:
“In matters linguistic, you’re hopelessly trained.
Allow me to show you some AWFUL mistakes
That I fear almost every last one of you makes!
Each time you use ‘they’ to refer to one person
Your standards of speech irreversibly worsen
And when you pair ‘none’ not with ‘is’ but with ‘are’
You inflict upon English a hideous scar.
Whenever you make an infinitive split
You make yourself look a definitive twit!
One common misdeed that extremely disturbs
Is when verbs become nouns or when nouns become verbs.
Another thing – which, I assure you, is banned –
Is when you begin a new sentence with ‘and’!
What’s worse, without showing a speck of contrition,
You’ll end the next one with a foul PREPOSITION!
‘Between you and I’,
‘Different than’,
Even ‘ain’t’
Are giving your language a horrible taint.
I could go on all day, listing errors syntactical
But there are so many… it wouldn’t be practical.”

He stopped and he waited and puffed out his chest.
He furrowed his brow – and the Whos were impressed!
For surely a Grinch who was such a stern sight
And acting so confident HAD to be right.

They cast their eyes downwards, their faces went red
Then finally, slowly, the Mayor stood and said:
“How awful that we’ve been so grossly in breach
Of the rules that define what’s acceptable speech
And on paper and screen we’ve been writing and typing
Grammatical howlers that merit your griping.
We hadn’t known how wrong we’ve been all this time
So PLEASE, can you stop our syntactical crime?”
The crowd, young and old, mostly nodded and pleaded
In search of the help they’d been told that they needed.

The Grinch then replied: “I can help you, of course!
I have here a Rule-Book that you can enforce
Just take my prescriptions – you’ll soon all get better
At using words well, if you stick to the letter.
So there could be nothing else fitter, you see
Than to let me save you from illiteracy!”

The Whos weren’t all sure, but they didn’t quite dare
To argue when faced with the Grinch’s firm stare
But one, little Cindy-Lou Who, gave a yelp:
“We already speak English – we don’t need no help!”
“AHA!” cried the Grinch, for his trap had now sprung:
“I’m glad of a student so keen and so young,
For if you don’t need NO help, that means you need SOME!”
Now Cindy-Lou frowned, as this seemed a bit dumb
And she didn’t recall that her words had concurred
And her friends didn’t think that was what they had heard.
But the Grinch was determined: he KNEW he could win
So he grinned his Grinch-grin and politely leaned in:
“If you meant what you said, then you DO want my rules
And if you did NOT, then you’re one of those fools
Who tragically cannot use words the right way,
And people will not understand what you say.”

Well, now those poor Whos were persuaded to follow
Wherever he led – what he fed them they’d swallow.
A few still had doubts, but they nodded along
Because nobody, NOBODY, dared to be wrong!

So it then was agreed that the teachers would teach
From the Grinch’s Great Rule-Book of Grammar and Speech.
The newspaper chief would make every reporter
Obey, or their prose would be sent out for slaughter.
And in the town hall, every typist and clerk
Would Grinchify every report and remark.

The Grinch was delighted! “Such excellent news!
I’m sure this will rescue the language you use.
Just one thing remains that’s still making me frown
And that, Mr Mayor, is the NAME of the town!
Now, ‘Who-ville’ is all very well when it’s doing,
But when it is done to, that old name needs shooing.
As ‘who’ becomes ‘whom’ when the object of action,
The town must be ‘Whom-ville’ for my satisfaction!”
The Mayor was struck dumb for a moment or two.
He hadn’t the faintest idea what to do.
But then he felt stupid, and then felt ashamed
So he said: “Very well… let the town be renamed!”

The Grinch, in his triumph, smiled, and hopped
Back onto his horse, and he clipped and he clopped
Back off to the north to his desolate home,
And the Whos were all left to digest his great tome.

Time passed for the Whos (or the Whoms, I should say)
Then after a year and a month and a day
The Grinch came again, to see how things were going
And maybe – who knows? – to indulge in some crowing.
He rode through the town, and his face slowly fell
Because things…
To his horror…
Were NOT going well!
He watched and he listened, and felt quite deranged
To find that the Whos’ grammar hardly had changed!
A few grumpy wannabe Grinches, he saw,
Were stubbornly waging their minuscule war
But most of the people still spoke as they had
And appeared not to know they’d been told it was bad!
Their language resisted his rules, more or less
And despite this, they seemed not to suffer distress –
Except, on occasion, whenever they met
Those mean grammar-Grinches, who loved to upset
Any poor individual who didn’t conform
To the rules that they somehow believed were the norm.

Now faced with his failure, the Grinch faced a choice:
To carry on fighting and raising his voice
To endlessly, heartlessly, pointlessly hammer
The Whos who ignored all the rules of Grinch grammar –
Or else to accept that the Whos were OK
That they spoke well enough, in a non-Grinchy way,
And that English would thrive without being controlled
By his rules (which had possibly been oversold).

So which did he do? Did he kick up more stink?
Or did he see sense?
What do you think?

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  • Stan  On March 4, 2014 at 9:34 am

    By a nice coincidence I read Seuss’s original only last week. This is an inspired complement. Bravo!

  • alexpolistigers  On March 4, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Ha! This is a great take on the age-old grammar debate, I love it! Very clever.

  • accidentobizaro  On March 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Very good. I was all ready to go ‘Not ANOTHER grammar maven!’ and be on my way with a huff. Nice twist!

  • Anne Brennan  On March 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Brilliantly written. Thank you for the laugh. And the reminder!

  • Jonathon Owen  On March 5, 2014 at 12:15 am

    This is brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Bravo, Tom.

  • datmama4  On March 5, 2014 at 6:19 am

    You are a genius. I feel unworthy to read your posts.

  • Aimee Enders  On March 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Unbelievable! This was a joy to read aloud, and I hope there will be more to come!

  • Dee Van Dyk  On March 7, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Love it!

  • larry trasciatti  On March 7, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Dr Seuss’ 110th birthday was March 2. This is so nice. I’ve always been so compulsively articualte. I especially despise the abuse that liberalism heaps upon our language (inclusive language etc.).

  • larry trasciatti  On March 7, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    error~: articulate

  • ladolcelisa  On March 7, 2014 at 11:01 pm


  • arkansasrose  On March 7, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Very funny. People take grammar way too seriously, in my opinion. This was fun to read though.

  • rburg17  On March 7, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Reblogged this on rburg17 and commented:
    Now this is truly what society needs!! Beautiful!

  • emily1492ann  On March 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Musings.

  • forgottenmeadows  On March 7, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Brilliant 🙂

  • busymindthinking  On March 8, 2014 at 12:10 am


  • Ramblings of a military spouse....  On March 8, 2014 at 12:21 am


  • Kay  On March 8, 2014 at 12:28 am

    love it!!

  • nikkiharvey  On March 8, 2014 at 1:47 am

    Love it 🙂

  • mistergoodguy  On March 8, 2014 at 6:09 am

    I really enjoyed this! Even with the sad ending. I like how you turned it around, making the Grinch into the good guy.

  • Paul Rafferty  On March 8, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Reblogged this on PAUL'S EFL REVIEW.

  • razzamattaz  On March 8, 2014 at 7:50 am


  • razzamattaz  On March 8, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Reblogged this on Ask Rasa ~ Health and Harmony and commented:
    Great for a laugh this morning!!!

  • rett66  On March 8, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Fantastic! Love It!

  • actuaria  On March 8, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Reblogged this on Actuaria's Blog and commented:
    This is fab 🙂

  • lalouziane  On March 8, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Reblogged this on L. W. Browning Blog and commented:
    I wonder if he stole spelling too…

  • gisellebarbosa77  On March 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I’m sure Dr Suess would have a good chuckle reading this! What a way to make my day

  • gisellebarbosa77  On March 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Reblogged this on gisellebarbosa77's Blog.

  • Regenerating Nations  On March 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Really well done!

  • rapunzellindemann  On March 8, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Reblogged this on Anakin's reveries in multiverses.

  • awax1217  On March 8, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I have done some rhymes, some good and kind and some that mess up the vernacular and are a waste of time.

  • HaitianBarbieK  On March 8, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Reblogged this on haitianbarbiek.

  • knowledgeaddiction  On March 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I enjoyed reading this poem. It has been some time since I read one as good as this one.

  • Dash Riprock  On March 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    The poem is witty. I have to agree with the Grinch this time, though…the Whos will ultimately be worse off for their grammatical laziness. I wish I had studied “Grinchy-grammar” a little harder.

  • verishuamaddix  On March 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    This is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • dayparker  On March 8, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    This is awesome!!!! Thank you!

  • bikerchick57  On March 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Excellent! Congrats on being pressed.

  • chloeroberts93  On March 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    How clever! Dr Seuss did change the English language, and i wrote a post on it. You can view it HERE in “Food for the mind”, Titled ’28 words invented by authors’:

  • amcory  On March 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Not a Day Over 45.

  • Jasmine  On March 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Finding Myself Around the World.

  • Bob Rogers  On March 8, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Every Who down in Who-ville should like this a lot!
    You make grammar fun, instead of dry rot!

  • stacysservices  On March 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Wow, as an English tutor I must say, this was great!

  • Pri  On March 8, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Reblogged this on The Art of Monologuing. and commented:

  • Rii the Wordsmith  On March 8, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Very well written, although I’m still going to be a grammar nazi concerning things like ‘they’re, their, there’.

    • Cyrus Quick  On March 9, 2014 at 12:13 am

      If a letter-set stood for a SOUND rather than a meaning, one spelling would have three meanings. Fine. But language evolves so changes would still be needed. Fights would still break out. Anti-change activism sounds like a nice hobby for its fans but I prefer singing around the flat and talking to myself in funny voices.

  • Margie Brizzolari  On March 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Window on my world and commented:
    Grinning from ear to ear.
    This grammarly poem I have to share.

  • kkessler833  On March 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Love it! Thank you very much! My mother and husband have degrees in English.

  • dayparker  On March 9, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Reblogged this on Day Parker and commented:
    Love this!

  • Cyrus Quick  On March 9, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I always disliked the Grinch because he looks so wrapped up in himself. Now I know some of what he is on about, I agree with part of it. If I ever start talking to people, instead of just writing, I might check back and see if I need help.

  • jftoomey  On March 9, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Fantastic! I really enjoyed this piece, and Bravo for the Grinch!

  • shanebolitho  On March 9, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Reblogged this on shane bolitho.

  • echooutside  On March 9, 2014 at 1:17 am

    This is absolutely brilliant! I just laughed so hard after reading this.

  • islandmisfit  On March 9, 2014 at 2:29 am

    Reblogged this on islandmisfit.

  • sholashade  On March 9, 2014 at 3:55 am


  • ehbates  On March 9, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Reblogged this on BumblesBooks and commented:
    Possibly the most brilliant commentary on prescriptivists that I’ve ever read.

  • ruchatakle  On March 9, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Reblogged this on Anything and Everything….

  • ladyhal9k  On March 9, 2014 at 6:41 am


  • ladyhal9k  On March 9, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Reblogged this on ladyhal9k.

  • gluestickmum  On March 9, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Reblogged this on Gluestick Mum and commented:

  • nella503  On March 9, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I love this!! A fear of breaking grammar rules can put many people off writing, which is a great shame, I’ve felt this fear myself but have now decided to just ignore it and write with abandon. Language is always evolving and people have very different educational and home life experiences, there will all ways be differences, crucially though we always understand each other. Pointing out peoples grammatical errors is almost a form of bullying and one man upmanship in many instances.

  • Mike Booth  On March 9, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Long live bad grammar! In one fell swoop it distinguishes us from them.

  • marthakeimstlouis  On March 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    it would be nice to be able to read the tiny letters on my iPad, but I am unable to do the two-finger spread. Maybe I will be able to read it elsewhere?

  • feliciaaug  On March 9, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Reblogged this on tothemoonandback and commented:
    from an english major to another

  • LVital7019  On March 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Would that I could copy, paste and send to All Users tomorrow upon my return to work… OHH I WOULD! Man, I want this on a poster for my office – floor-to-ceiling. 🙂

  • danielrmcloughlin  On March 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Kudos sir. This was a great read. Thank you, truly. I slip from time to time with misspelled words or poor punctuation but this hilariously great short essay(for lack of better term) helps me to be more serious. I feel like a grammer nazi now looking back at some things ive recently written or sent. Thank you again and great job!

  • danielrmcloughlin  On March 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Reblogged this on danielrmcloughlin.

  • Red Rocks, Rugrats, and Writing  On March 9, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    This is amazing. I’ve been known to break a few of those rules here and there.

  • fullmetallegacy  On March 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I, myself, am particularly pleased that someone began to take notice.
    ~ Trish

  • wildwanderingirl  On March 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Wonderful!!! *applauds* It seems most people today don’t know how to use proper grammar either in speech or in writing. Most of us have no urgent need to write letters or even “old fashioned” emails anymore; certainly the need for business correspondence is not what it was some 30 years ago when secretaries were clacking away all day at typewriters… In a day when abbreviated textspeak is the typical means of communication, what percentage of the population gives a flip about good grammar? Only a small percentage of folks, like those of us commenting here…

  • neighsayer  On March 9, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Perhaps a compromise is in order
    that we apply all his rules on one side of a border
    that when they write, the Whoms should conform
    but when they just speak, that informal’s the norm!
    For misunderstanding in speech can be solved
    whereas when it’s in text stricter rules are involved
    Where in speech the Whoms say ‘Say what?’ to each other
    In text we can’t always question the author!

    • neighsayer  On March 9, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      ” BUT in text, we can’t always question the author.”

  • neighsayer  On March 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Very nice, BTW. I loved this!

  • yeshua333  On March 9, 2014 at 9:51 pm


  • Evan T. Konnor  On March 9, 2014 at 10:14 pm


  • J. Kennedy  On March 10, 2014 at 12:17 am

    Right down my alley, great piece.

  • J. Kennedy  On March 10, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Reblogged this on j. kennedy's theory of everything and commented:
    I had to reblog this piece, well done!

  • sunnydayz6146  On March 10, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Reblogged this on The written Word.

  • lifemajorundecided  On March 10, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Reblogged this on life major: undecided.

  • jdenton545  On March 10, 2014 at 2:13 am

    This is a wonderful article! Nicely done.

  • patricialmurray  On March 10, 2014 at 2:26 am

    I’m not sure if the Grinch can win the grammar battle, without being outspoken by the “Who u talkin 2” ‘GENERATION’.

  • courtmhoff  On March 10, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Reblogged this on Courtney Hoff.

  • kmdismuke  On March 10, 2014 at 5:09 am

    This is so creative!! Hilarious and fun to read.

  • MindTechNorms  On March 10, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I really like the way you write…keep going… visit mine… .. comments will be welcomed..

  • The New Roald Dahl  On March 10, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Cors, that is one hecks of a good bit of writing. Now, if only I was good as that on a good day, and perhaps even on a bad day…I think.

  • 2davesarebetterthan1  On March 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Very Clever – thanks for posting

  • tallrachel  On March 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Love it. Rules are for breaking. Not a fan of text speak but when I write letters and emails I like to write how I speak. Which means I can start sentences with ‘and’. There you go.

  • ashiedesilva  On March 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    This is extremely witty!!

  • Jane  On March 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Nice job!

  • Monica DiNatale  On March 10, 2014 at 7:22 pm


  • Simon  On March 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    nice work. I’ll read this to my daughter.

  • The characterful writer  On March 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I like the fact that the Grinch only moaned when highly strung

  • twistednyx  On March 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    This is genius! Very well written indeed. Made me smile in the least.

  • John_Is_Boss  On March 12, 2014 at 3:18 am

    I like it ^-^

  • fl0werfullofp0ckets  On March 12, 2014 at 10:11 am

    What a fun post! 🙂

  • blacklambphotography  On March 12, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Brilliantly written.

  • jules3677  On March 13, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Reblogged this on jules3677 and commented:
    For all us writers!

  • Joan T Warren  On March 13, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Which did he do? Methinks that old Grinch didn’t give up so easy:

    Then he got an idea. An awful idea! The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea!
    I know just what to do, the grinch laughed in his throat
    And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat
    And he chuckled and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!”
    Then he called all the little Who’s, “Come see St. Nick,”
    And one at a time, gave them each his new book
    Then promised a bag full of toys as his hook
    “Just one thing you must follow, just one thing you must do,
    Or I will leave nothing but switches for you:
    Read Santy’s book and follow it’s rules
    For in it are all sorts of treasures and jewels!”

    The name of his book? Well, you know it, of course:
    Grammar for Dummies, the Ultimate Source
    All the Who’s down in Whoville were glad to obey
    For a prize was incentive enough any day!
    It started with little Who’s, then gradually spread,
    ’til even the old were grammatically bred.
    They were happy to do it, and the Grinch was a saint
    And nobody, ever again said it ain’t.

  • liane {meraki geek}  On March 13, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Reblogged this on meraki geek and commented:
    As a Speech-Language Pathologist, self-proclaimed word nerd, and Dr. Seuss-aholic, I absolutely LOVE this post!

  • RAC  On March 13, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Nice job! The Grinch and I are in the minority….:-(

  • psychoticmuse  On March 14, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Reblogged this on The Psychotic Journey and commented:
    I love this little diddy, and if I may say. Well played kind sir and cleverly made!

  • Greg C  On March 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    This is great!

  • Greg C  On March 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Reblogged this on Open Coast (gramature) and commented:
    Check this neat twist on the how the Grinch stole Christmas lol

  • lailaporshe  On March 15, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Lol 🙂

  • Tanzalongs  On March 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Superb! Well written and humerous – very ‘Seussian’ !

  • sschlegelmc2stem  On March 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Reblogged this on mc2stemshainaschlegel and commented:
    This was interesting… Read it if you like

  • Ted Luoma  On March 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I need the Grinch to come over and give me a lesson on the usage of the word ‘whom’. I’d also like the Grinch to steal Who Hash from everyone who says things like, “Come see George or myself if you would like assistance in building a time machine for your poodle.”

  • ckodsi  On March 19, 2014 at 8:52 pm


  • LifeLoofah  On March 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    This is quite simply brilliant. Thanks for sharing! I share on my own blog in an upcoming post – I’m told I can be a grammar nazi sometimes, and I could do with relaxing my expectations a bit. 🙂

  • LifeLoofah  On March 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    This is quite simply brilliant. Thanks for sharing! I may share on my own blog in an upcoming post – I’m told I can be a grammar nazi sometimes, and I could do with relaxing my expectations a bit. 🙂

  • akvallygirl  On March 20, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Little Pieces of Me and commented:
    What a fantastically written celebration of grammar
    Although that old Grinch should try learning some manners!

  • soydelascalles  On March 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I find it hilariously coincidental that the Grinch is from the north teaching the south proper English! I am from the south and most of us do speak incorrectly.

  • N.S.Beranek  On March 22, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Reblogged this on N.S. Beranek.

  • lavitaebella  On March 25, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Reblogged this on La Vita e Bella.

  • lakenalexis  On March 31, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Reblogged this on What is life? .

  • whitelily2012  On March 31, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Wow, absolutely amazing!

  • psychosomaticallyinlove  On March 31, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Amazing! Absolutely loved it!

  • apparentlyfine  On April 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Loved it! Very well found.
    Although I often get irritated by wrong grammar (and my first language isn’t even English, go figure), I do think that there might not even be such a thing as correct grammar.
    It’s an evolutional process. It involves itself by the people who speak the language. We only call it wrong, because the rules were once written down. I think we shouldn’t hold on all to much to how it ‘should’ be. That would be slowing down good progress just a much as bad progress.
    Good post, though. It surely gives people something to think (and debate) about.

  • ianamidon  On May 28, 2014 at 5:34 am

    Reblogged this on Small Town Famous.


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