I have felt for a while that we need a canonical question/answer (here, or in the FAQ) to which to point people who want to talk in quasi-moralistic terms about things being 'right' or 'wrong' (as opposed to 'common and understandable' or 'weird and downright ugly').
I say this because I think that lots of questions from people with English as a second language* tend to be looking for an equivalent 'authority' to one in their mother tongue. (I'm thinking of French in particular, with the Académie Française, which pretty much decides what is French or isn't).
I don't think it's helpful to these people to perpetuate the illusion that such an authority exists in English.
As far as I am concerned, there is nothing subjective about this. You can love it or bemoan it: language evolves and you can't stop it.
Does that mean that anyone can just arbitrarily decide to change the meaning or spelling of a word or invent new ones? (panic!!!!) Well, yes, I guess it does; though at the risk of being completely incomprehensible (Finnegans Wake anyone?). Apparently teenage girls are doing it all the time.
So I'll take nohat's COCA statistics anytime, rather than some prescriptive advice from a decades-old book written by some (cough) grammar nazi.
Talking of statistics, I think it would also be good to have some canonical question/answer on using Google fights as tests of common usage. Maybe nohat could include some info about getting the best out of COCA, and other alternatives.
*(Maybe also some with English as a first language but with memories of particularly prescriptive teachers.)