Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grammar "Rules"

Question: What happens when published writers violate the “rules” of grammar?

Answer: Nothing. Published writers often “violate” the hidebound “rules” of grammar for a purpose. Rules like “never use a sentence fragment.” And rules like “don’t begin a sentence with a coordinate conjunction.” The author goes on to show that language pundits, like George Orwell, who are strictly against violating these rules, violate them frequently themselves in their own writing.

Comment: Well, there are rules and there are rules. One of my “big” rules is never to begin a sentence or a clause with the word “there.” I have good reasons for that. First, inexperienced writers tend to use “there” unnecessarily frequently. Second, beginning a sentence with “there” causes a problem in subject-verb agreement: “There is six ingredients in this salad.” Corrected: “This salad consists of six ingredients.” But, when it suits my purpose I begin a sentence or clause with “There.” Another of my “rules” is to use the word “it” sparingly because “it” is another word that inexperienced writers use too frequently. And so it goes. RayS.

Title: “Beyond Grammar: The Richness of English Language or the Zero-Tolerance Approach to Rigid Rules.” Edgar H. Schuster. English Journal (March 2011), pp. 71-76.

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