The Grammarphobia Blog

The dog what bit me

Q: We’re hearing more people put “what” into a sentence comparing things. For example: “He can run faster than what I can.” What goes?

A: Grammatically, the “what” is unnecessary, redundant, and nonstandard. But this usage is a common regionalism in parts of the South.

A similar speech pattern, and one that used to be a lot more common, involves the use of “what” in place of “that” or “who” or “which.” Here are some examples:

“This is the dog what bit me” … “Who’s the one what did this?” … “She also brought the egg salad, what made so many people sick.”

All these usages are nonstandard, but they’ve been around for a long, long time. It may be that they just entered your radar recently.

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