“Pained the eye and stunned the ear”
My paper is a close analysis of prescriptive comments on the progressive passive over the course of the nineteenth century, based on my collection of 258 nineteenth-century grammar books. I investigate how the progressive passive was evaluated, which language ideologies were involved, and what the criticism can tell us about the construction (and its users) in return. Linking these comments to corpus studies of the rise of the progressive passive, my paper shows that the extreme salience of this construction (to grammar writers) can be explained by referring to its perceived complexity, its text-type sensitivity, and the social status of its users. The singular status of the progressive passive as the “most hated” construction of English is also compared to other constructions that did not attract the same degree of venomous comments.