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Nick Gibb fluffs a SPAG question!

(97 Posts)
Anya Wed 04-May-16 08:19:11

Apparently Nick Gibb was asked a SPaG question on BBC World at One and got it wrong grin

The relevant bit of the interview went roughly like this:

Martha Kearney: Let me give you this sentence, “I went to the cinema after I’d eaten my dinner”. Is the word "after" there being used as a subordinating conjunction or as a preposition?
Nick Gibb: Well, it’s a proposition. “After” - it's...
MK: [Laughing]: I don’t think it is...
NG: “After” is a preposition, it can be used in some contexts as a, as a, word that coordinates a subclause, but this isn’t about me, Martha...
MK: No, I think, in this sentence it’s being used as a subordinating conjunction!
NG: Fine. This isn’t about me.

I think 'nickgibb' is a verb, as in 'He nickgibbed that interview, didn't he?'


Mamie Wed 04-May-16 08:44:47

You couldn't make it up, could you? Nicky Morgan means it all sincerily (sic) and he doesn't prepare for the obvious interview question (or maybe he did and still got it wrong).

trisher Wed 04-May-16 08:58:32

This isn't about me it's about 6 year olds and 11 year olds who know more than I do. I'm just introducing these tests I didn't expect to have to do them!

whitewave Wed 04-May-16 11:05:29

But let's put ridiculous pressure on 6 year olds who may well learn enough to get it correct but in actual fact the whole process is utterly meaningless.

What is meaningful to six year olds is letting their imagination fly and expand, by introducing them to appropriate literature and poetry without the inhibition at this stage of their little lives of such ridiculous inhibitors.

whitewave Wed 04-May-16 11:06:37

Oh! I've repeated myself. Failgrin

Jalima Wed 04-May-16 11:21:30

I think I put a link to the nickgibbism (new noun?) on another thread, but now I'm not sure which thread it was grin

whitewave Wed 04-May-16 11:25:35

Isn't that an adjective? You can tell how much I remember!

vampirequeen Wed 04-May-16 11:57:19

Do they really need to know what it's called as long as they know how to use it correctly?

The same goes for maths. I was in my thirties before I knew what a cuboid was (I had to ask my daughter's teacher lol) and my mum was well into her sixties before she learned that a sphere is the proper name for the shape she called a ball shape. Oddly the lack of knowledge hadn't detrimentally affected our lives.

grannylyn65 Wed 04-May-16 13:17:50

Am sure we didn't have subordinating whats its when I was at school!!!

Elegran Wed 04-May-16 14:12:25

No, grannylyn we had subordinate clauses, which began with words like "after" and went "after I had done something else" or some other clause which modified the main clause. They now seem to call the linking/joining word a subordinating conjunction, but the purpose of it in the sentence hasn't changed.

Nick Gibb seems to think that it can only be used as a preposition - as in "after dinner" or "You are after me in the register". The "conjunction" or "joining" part of the name hasn't sunk in - I think Nick must even have been gazing out of the classroom window when they did conjunctions - that bit hasn't changed.

Jalima Wed 04-May-16 14:21:54


I think to nickgibb is a verb as in the OP
A nickgibbism is a noun - or a Proper Noun ie a Nickgibbism if we want to be proper
And a nickgibbinish faux pas would be an adjective.
Is that correct?

I think that is correct but words are beginning to fail me

Elegran Wed 04-May-16 14:28:00

I don't think an -ism can be a proper noun, Jalima.

daphnedill Wed 04-May-16 15:20:39


Subordinating conjunctions have existed since at least 1982, when I started teaching German. I'm fairly sure they'd existed for many years before that. They're relevant when teaching a foreign language, but not so much for English, especially when primary schools have been teaching their pupils for years that they're called 'connectives'. I wonder how many Gransnetters know the difference between a subordinating and a coordinating conjunction. If they don't know, they shouldn't worry too much, because they don't NEED to know, to speak and write good English.

daphnedill Wed 04-May-16 15:24:00

Blairism and Thatcherism are both proper nouns.

annodomini Wed 04-May-16 15:31:18

-isms are usually abstract nouns whether capitalised or not.

daphnedill Wed 04-May-16 15:36:43

Proper nouns have two distinct features: They name specific one-of-a-kind items, and they begin with capital letters, no matter where they occur within a sentence.

daphnedill Wed 04-May-16 15:38:22


Proper noun

The political ideology attributed to the governments of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990), characterised by, among other things, a free market economy, privatisation and low taxation.


Thatcher +‎ -ism

whitewave Wed 04-May-16 16:05:59

jalima I have absolutely no idea 🤓

Elegran Wed 04-May-16 17:16:33

I don 't know for sure, but I suspect the Capital-Lettered -isms like Thatcherism and Blairism are ones which have gone into use to describe a definite political ideology and become proper nouns, like Communism or Socialism, while many other -isms are more informal, like consumerism, mannerism, narcissism and so on. Dignifying nickgibbsism with a capital and proper noun status could be giving cNick /gibbs a bit too much importance.

Elegran Wed 04-May-16 17:20:23

Typing cNick /gibbs was a bit far in the other direction - the doorbell rang so I pressed "Post" without checking.

Jalima Wed 04-May-16 17:21:07

I do apologise! grin

whitewave Wed 04-May-16 17:38:48

Still not sure after all the above posts, but I guess I ve reached my age without it mattering too much.

Elegran Wed 04-May-16 17:51:24

jalima "words are beginning to fail me" - same here! How did we get a Minister of State for Schools who can't answer a question in a test for 11-year-olds?

annodomini Wed 04-May-16 18:12:31

'-isms' are things you can't touch or feel. The grammar the children are learning refers to 'concrete' nouns which I think our generation (well, mine) would have called 'common' nouns. Anything you can't grasp is abstract. Maybe if they're capitalised they could be Proper Abstract Nouns. Bet the politicians haven't thought of that.

Jalima Wed 04-May-16 22:33:16

Proper Abstract Nouns
That sounds quite insulting, so I'll call it one of those annodomini wink