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Does Grammar Matter?

23 May

Does Grammar Matter?

Posted By: 
Kaitlyn Guay


“You mean, MAY I go to the bathroom.”

“Arrrgh, you know what I meant,” you cry, fingers curling half-moons into clenched fists. “Why does it matter?”

Today, we’d like to explore just that: does grammar matter? The intriguing TED-ed talk by Andreea S. Calude entitled “Does Grammar Matter” delves into the question every young student has asked at one point or another.

Grammar is described as “a set of patterns for how words are put together to form phrases or clauses, whether spoken or in writing.”

So if we’re asking if grammar matters, we’re essentially asking if it’s important for everyone to use the same patterns and rules. There are two camps to fall into here: Descriptivism and Prescriptivism. Prescriptivists think language should follow a consistent set of rules, while Descriptivists “see variation and adaptation as a natural and necessary part of language.”

Let’s give this some context. For a large part of our history, language was primarily spoken. That’s why we have things like old wives tales and folk songs with a thousand different variations-- they were spread by mouth over generations. However, as the world became more interconnected, it became important to be able to share written information with others in a format everyone would be able to understand, regardless of the dialect or spoken customs of their region. They needed to “ensure that people in other parts of a realm could understand one another.”

Thus came the notion of “proper” language, which was essentially the language spoken by the people in power at the time.

Calude tells us, “Language Purists worked to establish and propagate this standard by detailing a set of rules that reflected the established grammar of their times.”

Today, Descriptivists have begun to study the evolution of writing and speaking as two separate entities, and many modern writers at times bend the rules of grammar for effect. Such as writing in incomplete sentences. Or starting a sentence with a conjunction. However, the benefit to having a common set of grammatical rules remains essential for situations such as engaging in business meetings where you want to ensure you’re both speaking the same language, either proverbially or in actuality,  or to allow two non-native speakers to communicate with each other and be understood.  

What are your thoughts on Grammar? Are you a Descriptivist or a Prescriptivist? If you think rules are made to be broken, do you think it important to know the rules in the first place? In our interconnected world, do you think grammar helps us be understood by people of different backgrounds and cultures?

If you learned something from today’s post, we invite you to share it with a young writer who could benefit from it too! Stay tuned for more writing tips as we count down toward our upcoming Webinar on June 15th, “From First Draft to Published: Self-Editing Techniques for Young Writers!”

*** COMING JUNE 15TH: Webinar: “From First Draft to Published: Self-Editing Techniques for Young Writers.”

Are you an aspiring author? We most cordially invite you to join our highly anticipated Webinar specifically crafted for young writers! Join our own Dr. Julie Radachy and guest expert Trisha J. Wooldridge, former President of Broad Universe, and experienced writer, editor, and journalist, to delve into the mystical world of writing. Through this Webinar, you can expect to learn the TOP FIVE STRATEGIES to help you edit your own writing, as well as HOW TO EDIT for tense and timeliness, adverbs and adjectives, filter words, prepositions, and telling words. Join us on Thursday, June 15th at 4pm PST/ 7pm EST. We can’t wait to see you there!

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