Ignore the Grammar Police

Some rules are meant to be broken

grammarForget about good writing vs. bad writing. I want to bravely address correct vs. incorrect writing. And I will explain why you can break a bunch of rules you have certainly heard of.

English teachers would have handed that paragraph back to me with a slew of red slashes. There’s an incomplete sentence! You can’t start a sentence with ‘And!’ Never, ever, ever, end a sentence with a preposition! Aack! Split infinitive!

We’re not in English class anymore. Many of the hard and fast rules we learned back in elementary school are actually soft and squishy. As time passes, some rules become irrelevant.

You may end a sentence with a preposition. According to grammarphobia.com the whole rule was some 18-century English clergyman’s invention anyway.

grammarIncomplete sentences can get annoying if overused, but they effectively emphasize a point when used sparingly.

Split infinitives (to bravely address) are just fine. If they weren’t, then the crew of Star Trek couldn’t boldly go where no man had gone before. Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty explains in her Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing that this rule came about because grammarians of the 19th century were intent on mirroring Latin, a language that does not have infinitives to split.

Though you don’t want to make a habit of it, starting a sentence with ‘and’ is perfectly acceptable. You can also start a sentence with “because,” “but” and “so.” Avoid this in formal writing, such as business correspondence or press release.

Using grammar and punctuation correctly does matter. You need to know how to structure a sentence so that the reader can understand it. But getting overly strict about rules just for the sake of rules will wring the life out of your writing. The point of writing is to communicate, and these rules often actually interfere with that.