Manner vs. manor

A manner is (1) a way of doing something, (2) a bearing or demeanor, and (3) a type. The plural form, manners, refers to a manner of behavior considered to be social correct.

Constructions involving manner can often be shortened to single adverbs. For example, in a calm manner and in a public manner can give way to calmly and publicly. Some such phrases lack one-word equivalents, however—e.g., in a timely manner.

A manor is (1) the estate of a European lord, or (2) the main house of a large country estate.



Second, the plan was rejected in the most democratic manner possible – through a referendum. [Guardian]

Shaunie, as Bruce calls him, has a manner that’s both friendly and immediate. [The Age]

What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature, is it in the semblance of man? [Dracula, Bram Stoker]


He didn’t do himself many favours being seen riding with his local fox hunt like a latterday lord of the manor. [Independent]

Baltic landlords, who remained overwhelmingly German, were often absent from their estates, preferring life in the towns to the isolation of their manors. [The History of the Baltic States, Kevin O’Connor]

Lerner, who lives on an adjacent 200 acres in an elegant restored cabin, says the manor house is used once or twice a month for charitable events. [Washington Post]

14 thoughts on “Manner vs. manor”

    • Well, I’ve definitely seen both ‘to the manor born’ as well as ‘to the manner born’… which is what I originally had expected this post to concentrate on. : )

        • The original is “to the manner born”, used by Shakespeare in Hamlet. “To the manor born” originated as a pun based on the Shakespearean phrase: it gained popularity in the UK as the title of a BBC situation comedy in the 1970s.

    • Mikhail:
      Yes, of course, it sounds right to change it to “socially” and that is how we “prove” many English dilemmas; (that it “sounds right”).
      However, I thought your question was probably deceptively simple, so I attempted to puzzle it out.

      In this instance, “social” is an adjective that describes “correct.”
      Adding an “ly” can be done, and it turns it into an adverb.

      Then it becomes a bit difficult to prove because (in this instance) “correct” is an adjective, so we have an adverb modifying an adjective.

      However, we are not seeing the (additionally) understood
      term of “behavior” (which was “used” earlier in the sentence). “Social [socially] correct” is short for “social [socially] correct ‘behavior’ (or standards) or whatever.”

      Social correct does not make sense. An adjective modifying an adjective is nothing more than an adjective phrase. (Like saying that something is a “big blue” or a “round fuzzy.”)

      Yet, if we change “social” (adjective) to “socially” (adverb)
      we now have an adverb modifying an adjective, so we still have a fragmented phrase, something like a “manly oblong” or a “large timely.”

      So, let’s agree that the sentence is improperly constructed, and remove some of the cautionary phrasings, and re-write it in it’s simplest form:

      “Manners” (plural) refers to socially correct behavior.
      This is now a properly constructed sentence.

      • First, it’s hard to take anyone’s grammar analysis seriously when it contains an elementary error like using “it’s” in place of “its.” :-) Second, I cannot agree that the sentence in question is improperly constructed. It is extremely common for English to use a to-be verb (am, is, are, was, were…) to relate a noun and an adjective: “This meal is great.” “The journey was long.” So there is nothing wrong with the phrase “behavior considered to be correct”: “correct” can modify “behavior” using this common construction. However, in order to modify the adjective “correct,” you are correct that the modifier must be an adverb. So “social” should indeed be “socially.”

        • I agree “socially” is the correct word, but I believe the word “correct” was intended to actually modify “manner” as in “a socially correct manner of behavior.” Incidentally, “manner” is also modified by the prepositional phrase, “of behavior,” of which “behavior” is the object of the preposition, and not the target of any modifier.

          • Good point; thank you for the correction. It’s interesting that a year later, the original typo that sparked this discussion still hasn’t been corrected.

  1. Here are two factoids worthy of consideration :1. the average person of today reads comfortably at fifth grade level. 2. That same person uses a working vocabulary of approximately one to two thousand words.

    We grow closer to the feared Orwellian ideal daily, it seems. Little wonder that such common conundrums arise over words that are not in any way a challenge. By the way, I thought Grammerist was taking down your Grammerly banners. What up G??

    I was about to make a purchase of their product until I read about your little experiment. The few inconsistencies you point out in your approach, do not nullify the overwhelmingly disappointing result of your test as a whole.

    If I purchased such a product, I would expect it to make my editing efforts less challenging, not more so.
    This point notwithstanding, it was our man Hemingway who said, “The first draft of anything is s!*t.”
    Revision is a beautiful thing, or least it can be.

  2. Absolutely love all the posts here, and the discussions are also quite informative! I always find it both sad and amusing that some people confuse some of these words.

  3. A (somewhat) modern deliberate misusage is in the Barenaked Ladies’ song, The King Of Bedside Manor. It makes other puns as well…


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