The Grammarphobia Blog

Down the shore, and over the house

Q: I’ve been dying to ask you about something that irks me! When I moved to New York, I was fascinated (and a little disgusted) at how my friends from New Jersey would leave out words without noticing. For example, “I’m going down the shore” or “Come over my house.” Is there a secret understanding that allows them to leave out prepositions?

A: The expression “down the shore,” meaning at the beach, is a common regionalism in North Jersey, Philadelphia, and some parts of inland Connecticut.

In 1993, a one-act play called Down the Shore, by Tom Donaghy, had a run Off Broadway. Donaghy is from Philadelphia, where the play takes place.

“You guys goin’ down the shore?” one character asks the others. Later he says, “Don’t think about much down the shore.” Another replies, “Beach makes you stupid.”

As for “over my house” instead of “over to my house,” that’s much more widespread. People have reported hearing it from Milwaukee to the East Coast.

I wrote a blog entry last year about “come over” and I wrote one a few months ago about a clipped form that’s probably even more common, “come with.”

These abbreviated ways of talking are usually more common in speech than in writing, as are most regional peculiarities. I don’t think we should condemn them, or even find them irritating.

This is a big country, after all, with many fascinating groups of people. Naturally, they develop special ways of talking to one another.

Even smaller countries like Britain are chock-full of regional differences in speech and usage. I find these differences interesting and charming, and would hate to see them go.

These regionalisms may not be acceptable in formal writing, but I see nothing wrong with them in casual speech or idiomatic writing.

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