Everyone knows at least one person who is very particular about grammar or the way words are used in English. People who stand fervently against the singular “they,” or insist that the word decimate can only ever mean killing one in ten soldiers as a form of military punishment.

But here’s the thing: language is messy. No matter how much grammar it might have, every “real” language (so not Klingon or Esperanto, which were manufactured with a specific goal in mind) evolved naturally, and those rules came along after the fact. This is how we get irregular verbs, whether there are a lot of them, like in French, or relatively few, like in Russian. English is absolutely not immune from this, and in fact might be one of the best examples of how languages can change over time.

Merriam-Webster has established a habit of defending the living, evolving nature of language, often with a lot of sass. They have a great post about how English words with Latin roots, like decimate, have changed over time, and even in their oldest known form didn’t generally mean exactly what it did in Latin. This is partly because translation is almost never a one-for-one exchange, but also because language evolves. If you read enough early modern English writing, you can see just how much of a free-for-all the language was, with writers sometimes using different spellings for the same word in the same sentence.

What it comes down to is this: language evolves, grammar changes, and words develop new meanings. It may bother you that “everybody” uses the word literally wrong, but it’s not about you; you aren’t the arbitrator of English. Nobody is. It’s a wonderful thing about English, that it can evolve based on the will of the masses and not the rule of a king or premier. And it has to do so in order to continue reflecting the world around it.