Adam Ruins Everything Episode 33: Anne Curzan Talks Grammar and the Flexibility of Language


We've all done it. Corrected someone for saying 'literally' when they weren't being literal or for saying 'good' instead of 'well'. Professor Anne Curzan, who is this week's podcast guest, says it's normal to notice dialectical differences between different communities but we shouldn't shame people for talking as they do.

Anne, who appeared on Adam Ruins What We Learned in School, explains how grammar rules are not fixed in the English language. Language is constantly evolving and we’re the ones who get to shape it -- not dictionaries! So we can all stop correcting each other and just appreciate our different ways of speaking. On the podcast, Anne and Adam discuss how we should think of the dictionary as a field guide rather than the authority on language, how young people think about language and texting, and how Anne helped choose 2000's word of the millennium! Anne is an English Professor at the University of Michigan where she researches the history of English and lexicography. She is also a member of both the American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel and the American Dialectical Society.

Adam is on Twitter @AdamConover and you can find past episodes and bonus content from the TruTV show at
Produced by Shara Morris for