When my kids were growing up I would often hear them say that they did something “on accident.”

“Why do they say that?” I’d ask Ken or he’d ask me. “Neither of us say ‘on accident.’  We say “by accident.”

But then I’d hear their friends say it, too.

On the way to work lately, I’ve been listening to a CD on grammar. The lady writing the book said that someone had done a research paper on the “on accident” or “by accident” confusion.

Funny. After doing mountains of digging into word usage archives, the writer of the paper couldn’t figure it out either.

This is how it is.

Almost all kids under 10 use “on accident.”

People from age 11 – t0 about 35 are a mix. Some say “on” and some say “by.”

Almost 100% of people over the age of 35 say “by accident.”

Grammatarians (not sure that’s a word, but you know what I mean) are perplexed. Where did this come from?

Barney is too recent. Sesame Street is too old. The consensus is that in a generation or two all people will be saying “on accident.”

And it’s not by accident I’m writing this.

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