Sentence got
you stumped?
Just ask
‘Grammar Girl’
Sentence got
you stumped?
Just ask
‘Grammar Girl’
Sentence got you stumped? Just ask ‘Grammar Girl’

Is it who or whom? Affect or effect? Mignon Fogarty, '90, became internet famous for answering such questions.

Illustration by Olivier Kugler | Interview by Quinn Russell Brown | September 2019

We asked Mignon Fogarty, ’90, about what it's like being “Grammar Girl” and, rather than risk any mistakes, we'll let her answer in her own words:

1. When was the first time you realized you had a knack for language?

My mom took me to a lot of classes at my local library, and I always loved the writing workshops. I was probably 5 or 6 when I realized how much I loved reading and writing.

2. How did Grammar Girl begin, and how has it since become so well-known on the internet? 

Grammar Girl started as a podcast, and it’s been going strong for 13 years. The podcast has always been popular, but we also have a great website, and I usually hear that people first learned about Grammar Girl when they were searching the internet for a specific writing question such as when to use “whom” or how to use a semicolon.

3. What’s the most popular question people go to Grammar Girl for (either based on web page views, or your own impression)?

It has varied over the years, but “affect” versus “effect” is always a top question.

4. There are a lot of commonly misused words. What’s the one that irks you the most? What’s the one that you still fall for yourself?

I spend so much time talking about common errors, that I use the wrong words a lot. For example, people often ask me about “irregardless,” which people use when they mean “regardless.” I use “irregardless” so often when I’m talking about the error that when I’m speaking or writing, I sometimes have to take half a second and think, “Which is the right one again?”

5. Is the English language still evolving? Or should we hold onto what we’ve got? Or is it “on to”?

English is constantly changing. I happen to think it’s fascinating, but it’s unstoppable even if you wanted to try. (And it’s “hold on to” because “hold on” is a phrasal verb.)

6. Do you correct your friends when they use the wrong word?

No, never.

7. What’s a typical day like for you?

I usually spend mornings on email, social media and a workout. Then I go out for lunch and spend the rest of the day working on my podcast and articles.

8. Is there a TV show or a movie that delights you because the language is so flowery and well-crafted?

I love the Game of Questions scene in the movie “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”

9. Where should we go to learn more about language from you? 

My website is That has my articles and links to my podcast and major social media accounts. You can find all my books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Indiebound.