This paper reports the findings of a survey of the acceptability of 28 debatable English usages, which figure prominently in Australian usage guides and whose acceptability and propriety are open to debate. Data were collected from Australian teachers and students via several elicitation methods : a judgement test, a slot-filling test and a proofreading test. Respondents’ acceptability judgements were found to be dependent on a number of sociolinguistic variables. Informants who were older (in this case, English language teachers) were less ready to accept non-traditional usages than younger informants (students), as were students studying in selective schools compared to those studying in non-selective schools. Prescribed traditional usages were noted to be more readily accepted in formal than informal styles. It is hoped that through this study language teachers will more openly embrace developments in contemporary corpus-based descriptive linguistics rather than encouraging their students to defend shibboleths. Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.