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Prescriptive grammarians, castigating various commonly used phrases of a vernacular language, run the risk of encouraging hypercorrections. Hypercorrections are the solecisms introduced into human speech by the strain of the effort made to avoid some form that the prescriptivists have forbidden.

Told to avoid the nominative case form "You and me are going. . . ," people will avoid the phrase you and me even when it appears in the oblique case, and will end up saying things like, "Between you and I. . ." Similar confusion surrounds the pronoun whom; people assume that whom is the formal and fancy version, and end up saying things like "Whom shall I say is calling?"

Told that they should never "drop" the ending -ly from adverbs, people produce new words like thusly, soonly, and fastly. Spurious adverb forms also appear behind words that are serving as a copula, and thus would call for a simple predicate in traditional grammar: "my eyes are going badly."

Another area of hypercorrection involves Greek and Latin looking words like octopus; the spurious plural octopi likens the octopus to a number of Latin words that form irregular plurals in -i. (Were there actually a classical plural of octopus, it would be *octopodes.) Platypus, cactus, status, hiatus, rebus, syllabus, mandamus, and caucus are sometimes inflected the same way; none would be inflected that way in Latin or Greek. Virus sometimes gets the even more inappropriate pseudoclassical plural virii, which presumes Latin *virius. All of these words can and should also take the regular English inflection in -es.

When pronunciation of learned words goes astray, it is sometimes called a hyperforeignism. Tell people that the -s is silent in Mardi Gras, and they will imagine that it also falls silent in other learned French phrases, and begin to pronounce coup de grâce as "coo de grah."