Grammar is a subject we despise all growing up, and then as adults, we wish we had paid more attention to in school. We can’t change the past, but if you find yourself writing emails, texts, and other work without knowing when to use “whom”or where to place that pesky comma, then I urge you to take control of your writing. Take the time to learn to write better.
Side note: grammar is different from punctuation, but we typically place them under the same umbrella.
Every person needs to master grammar and punctuation to take control of their writing.
As an English major in college, I skipped out on the class on grammar. Literature and theory was way more fun. It wasn’t until graduate school that I learned (or relearned) what a comma splice was. And it wasn’t until I began teaching English Composition that I really learned how to use correct grammar.
Writing is so much easier when you know how.
Most people either love or hate writing; it’s not really a subject that fosters apathy. If you hate it, it’s probably because you don’t know how to do it well. If you love it, it’s probably because somewhere along the line you learned to respect language, and for that, I respect you. After you’ve been writing a while, you probably still have some insecurities with certain grammatical situations. This slows you up and causes you to expel too much brain power on the craft and not enough on the creativity. But there is no separation between your craft and creativity; they are two sides of the same coin. Once you learn one, the other will thrive.
Proper writing and speaking commands respect.
Whether it’s a Facebook status or a sermon, I have mad respect for friends and colleagues when they speak and write correctly. When I read or hear even a small mistake, I immediately question every ounce of what was just said. You read me right – I question their content, not just their form. Again, these are one in the same. When people find out I teach English, they immediately assume I am some kind of grammar-Nazi and apologize for any future mistakes they might utter. It’s not okay. If you know it’s a weakness, step up and take control of it.
Speaking and writing correctly is a way to love and serve others.
In John Trimble’s book, Writing With Style, he makes it quite clear that the biggest difference between a novice writer and veteran writer is that the novice writes for himself while the veteran writes to serve others. The veteran writer keeps his audience in mind, anticipates questions they might have and does his best to answer them, and works hard to communicate effectively. When you speak and write correctly, you’re not only loving your former English teachers and professors, you’re loving and serving your friends. Bad grammar is a cancer; it spreads fast. This was one of the deeper arguments made by the terrible but eerily prophetic movie, Idiocracy. In future America, no one speaks well and writing is obsolete.
A while back, I discovered a really great resource to help fill in the gaps for when I was daydreaming during my high school English class. It’s called The Grammar Bible: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Grammar But Didn’t Know Whom to Ask and is oh so appropriately titled. It has everything you might need to relearn the mechanics of the English language.
Linguists everywhere will be putting on their party hats today. Happy National Grammar Day! In honor of Grammar day, please refrain from ending your sentence with a preposition: this is where we’re at ==> this is where we are. And remember: every time you speak or write correctly, a puppy wags his tail, an angel gets her wings, and your English teacher smiles.