We live in interesting times. Times that would make Shakespeare turn in his grave.
Social media and its communication tools have turned modern generations into grammar renegades.
Who would have predicted that emojis would disturb the order of adjectives at will? That you would let people get away with calamitous grammatical and spelling errors for fear of being labeled a grammar Nazi?
The big question is: is grammar still important in writing?
It is. Even on social media? A resounding YES.
If you’re on Twitter or Facebook to play around and share birthday cake pics with your loved ones, then grammar might not be that important.
However, as a professional (whether on social media or anywhere else), you NEED correct grammar (close to perfect)—to put it in simple terms, grammar is that thin line between professionalism and unprofessionalism.
What Does Good Grammar Mean?
Good grammar embellishes Language (written or spoken). Good grammar entails expressing oneself in a way that is apprehensible and doing so neatly within the fundamental rules of sentence construction, punctuation, and spelling.
Oftentimes, we’re just too comfortable speaking and writing however we want—we rarely notice how bad our grammar is. So, how can we gauge how good our grammar is and improve it if need be?
Take a look at things that engender “good grammar”:
1. Comprehension and Use of the Rules of Grammar
This is the most fundamental “tenet”. You’ve got to know the rules before you can apply them, right? To use “good grammar”, you need to be able to understand the basic rules and how to apply them. Although it’s not prudent to twist the laws of the queen’s language anyhow you like, these “laws” are mutable (to a certain degree).
2. Effectively Getting a Point Across Using Written Language
If you can easily communicate with different audiences with written language, it is probably because you are using good grammar. Your choice of words and punctuation to get your point across must be on point, and in such a way, your audience can easily apprehend it.
3. Effectively Getting a Point Across Using Spoken Language
Good grammar isn’t only essential in written language; it is an equally important requisite for good spoken language. Good grammar in spoken language may lead people to believe that you’re an educated individual or a professional in the field that you are tackling.
Five Fundamental Principles of English Grammar
The rules of grammar for the English language are too complex. However, there are 5 unquestionably basic principles that one ought to understand and apply to achieve a coherent level of communication using English.
The principles apply to both written and spoken English (with varying degrees).
#1. Word order
Word order is the most significant part of sentence structure. Syntax, as sentence structure is known, is the systematic orderly arrangement of words which determines the relation between words. The basic rule is that in a declaratory statement, you start with the subject; then the verb, and the objects follow after (and adverbial phrases, where available).
I found some examples which illustrate this on Linguapress
“My friend is reading a good book by George Orwell.”
A change in the order of these words will result in a change of the meaning of this sentence.
“My good friend George is reading a book by Orwell”
“My good friend is reading George a book by Orwell”
Although the original word order has been altered, the sentences are still grammatical, meaningful, and logical. However, the meanings and messages of the sentences have completely changed and that attests to the fact that word order is one of the most important factors in translating the meaning of a sentence.
In extreme cases, changing the order of words results in a meaningless and ambiguous lump of words. In the subsequent example, we use the same words as those used in the previous examples, but we make extreme rearrangements and the sentence is “mumbo jumbo”—literally impossible to interpret.
“A good Orwell book is reading by my George friend.”
This is also an important element of syntax. Most punctuation errors and problems are apparent in written language. Punctuation consists of a couple of “punctuation marks” including, . ; : ? ! and “.
When used in speech, punctuation is represented by pauses, stressed words, and inflections of the voice.
In some statements (though very few), punctuation does not change the interpretation of the statement. However, in almost every complex sentence, punctuation is very essential.
In some circumstances, it actually dictates who lives or dies (ha-ha)
Again, our friends at Linguapress furnished us with the following examples to illustrate this.
“Let’s eat Grandma !”
“Let’s eat, Grandma !”
“Doctor I have problems with eating sore feet and hair falling out.”
“Doctor I have problems with eating, sore feet, and hair falling out.”
“People, who live in London, are often very stressed.”
“People who live in London are often very stressed.”
#3. Tense and aspect
Verbs are major building blocks of sentences and tense and aspect are the most significant elements of verbs, hence very significant in your statements.
Verbs can offer a meaning on their own. In a proper context, verbs can make a meaningful sentence without any other word.
For example, if you were invited to a group dinner and the host says, “eat,” everyone at the table would start eating. And there are verbs that can be a clear and unambiguous sentence on their own, in any context. For example, if someone said, “Look!” you’d all know that the speaker wants you to look at something.
Tense and aspect specify a time context during which the event(s) in a sentence happened, is happening, or will happen.
I am a student at Oxford. (the statement refers to the present time)
I was a student at Oxford. (the statement refers to a past time)
I will be a student at Oxford. (the statement refers to a timeline in the future)
He eats fish and chips! (the statement is referring to a repeated or regular action)
He’s eating fish and chips! (the statement is referring to a progressive or ongoing action)
We can also look at other parameters (as regards the application of verbs), including voice mood and modality; still, tense and aspect are the most significant.
#4. Use of Determiners
In English sentences, nouns are rarely spoken or written alone. Unlike verbs, nouns don’t make statements on their own; only proper nouns can form a statement on their own and only as answers.
For example, if someone asked, “Who stole the purse?” The answer, “John” Would make sense on its own.
For the other nouns though, they need to be “determined” for them to make sense.
Here’s an example.
Speaker 1: Which house does John live in?
Speaker 2 (answers with any of the following “determined” nouns): That house, this house, my house.
#5. Use of Connectors
Connectors are words that act as links between words, phrases or clauses in a sentence.
The relationships that connectors make between these building blocks in a sentence can be grouped into three: correlation, coordination, and subordination.
Coordination: this is expressed with coordinating conjunctions, i.e., and, but, or, nor or yet.
Subordination: this is a relationship between clauses that is shown through the help of subordinating conjunctions, relative pronouns, and subordinating adverbs.
Correlation is often expressed through the use of correlating conjunctions, such as “either…or,” “neither…nor,” “both/and,” which are a specific type of conjunctions known as correlative conjunctions.
What’s the Big Deal with Good Grammar?
What. Is. The big deal? Why the fuss?
Grammar Speaks More Than the Content
Whether just a simple person, a big enchilada, or an established business—your grammar, spelling, and punctuation is almost at the forefront of your brand. You might not know it, but it plays a huge part in the way people perceive you and the entity you represent.
To some extent, good grammar does help instill trust in your potential—it makes your brand look legit and makes customers and clients feel a little bit safer hiring or subscribing to your services.
Contrastively, poor grammar will harm your authenticity and lead people to think that you’re a bit cavalier about your business or vocation. Imagine a recruiter looking at an application letter littered with typos, misspellings, and incorrect punctuation.
Good Grammar Improves Communication
The main reason for speaking or writing content is to communicate. That’s it.
In that respect, good grammar lays the foundation for clear and effective communication.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a job application letter, a blog post, a dissertation paper, or a billboard ad—if you write good grammar, your message’s intent and meaning will be a bit clearer.
Things like punctuation seem to be of little importance, but they can change the meaning of a message pretty sharply.
Writer memes have given the best example of this, have you seen these?
“I love eating my family and not using commas”
“Stop clubbing baby seals”
And our previous example, “Let’s eat Grandma!”
I’m sure you have, but you get the point right?
Language Is Art
Language is beautiful, evocative, and powerful.
Stories told using good grammar, and nice accents (*cough cough* oh! That British accent) can literally move you to tears. Perfect grammar will have you wondering if what’s being talked about is the same thing you know.
Whether it’s a thriller or romance novel, if it’s crafted using good grammar, it’ll have you wanting to live between the pages.
Isn’t it language that we used to woo the hubby? Write propaganda to effect a regime change? Isn’t the art of language that changed J.K Rowling’s life?
What’s The Importance of Using Good Grammar in Writing?
Yeah, yeah, yeah—but how important is good grammar in my writing?
I’m just so in love with 3s today, so I’m giving you 3 top reasons.
Good Grammar Keeps the Reader Engaged
Good grammar makes content easier to read and understand. If reading becomes strenuous for the reader (blog visitor, novel reader, etc.), they’ll stop reading the text (leave the page, put down the book, et cetera).
People have no time to waste trying to constantly figure out what your inapprehensible sentences are trying to say. If your writing is not clear and straightforward, they’ll look for content that is.
Sentences Flow Much Easier
Inconsistencies and mistakes in grammar slow the reader down and distract him or her from the core message contained in the passages.
Good grammar makes your sentences flow easier, and this is on your part as a writer and the other side, that of a reader.
For example, with adept use of punctuation, you can write sentences with varying length, pace, and complexity whilst staying on topic and without making mistakes.
You Sound Smart
If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, then you have to let good grammar speak for you.
You can’t let dangling modifiers “hang freely” in your sentences. The logic is simple: if you can’t make a simple sentence make sense, why should they believe that you can make a 2k blog post make sense.
Readers are unfairly going to conclude that maybe you’re not that bright based only on those “little” dangling modifiers and run-on sentences.
I don’t blame them.
How Can I Check My Grammar?
We all make mistakes; no one is perfect.
It’s the same thing with Grammar; nobody should lie to you that their grammar is perfect all of the time.
Now and then, we’re all guilty of committing small grammatical mistakes. One could try their best to write a mistake-free first draft but language just has a lot of rules.
Not to worry though, checking and fixing grammatical issues is a quick and easy thing to do nowadays. There are a lot of excellent grammar checking software tools available that make tackling grammatical errors a seamless task.
Here are our best 3 recommendations:
Grammarly is an online grammar checking tool that has a free version in addition to its paid subscription plans. The tool checks your text in real-time—your writing is checked whilst you’re typing.
To check your grammar or proofread using Grammarly, you can upload your content into a text box on the tool’s website, install extensions and add-ins for word processors and websites, or use the tool’s desktop apps.
Grammarly is the best grammar checker available and offers a more in-depth analysis and suggestion for improving your writing. Plus, you can check if your document has plagiarized content using the tool’s plagiarism checker.
ProWritingAid is Grammarly’s best competitor, and it comes at a lower price than Grammarly.
ProWritingAid highlights and corrects grammar mistakes, spelling, punctuation errors. It also identifies style issues and offers comprehensive and in-depth feedback (it provides up to 20 various writing reports).
The report covers topics including grammar, spellings, overused words, etc.
Ginger offers the best paid multilingual support than most grammar checkers. Ginger offers excellent multilingual support; it can translate text between 40 different languages.
And just like its two counterparts, Ginger has a free version. The free version is a bit limited but still allows you to use the Ginger smartphone keyboard and a web editor.
The premium plan comes with a desktop app and a premium mobile phone keyboard. Expectedly, the premium package has more features and capabilities which include a personal trainer, sentence rephraser, and others.
My Final Words…
So, you might be saying to yourself,
“Alright, now that I know how important good grammar is, how do I improve my grammar and writing skills?”
The best way to go about it is to write every day, It doesn’t matter how many words you write per day, just write!
And always have that friend whose grammar is a bit better (or waaaay better) than yours to look at your work. Don’t be embarrassed; if they are honest and tell you the areas you need to improve, then they are helping you to learn.
I can’t emphasize this enough—language is art. Good grammar shows that you are a good craftsman who cares about details and who wants their art to speak for them.