Booking Through Thursday: Grammar

btt button The Booking Through Thursday question for this week is:

In honor of National Grammar Day … it IS “March Fourth” after all … do you have any grammar books? Punctuation? Writing guidelines? Style books?

More importantly, have you read them?

How do you feel about grammar in general? Important? Vital? Unnecessary? Fussy?

March Fourth. Ha! I don’t think I ever caught that before.

I do have my trusty Harcourt College Handbook from way back in college days. I haven’t read it through like a book, but I’ve probably referred to every part of it at some point over the years. I do have other grammar, style, writing books that I keep for reference, but these days if a question comes up while I am in the midst of writing, I usually look it up online. For instance, I can’t seem to keep straight when to use “i.e.” and “e.g.” — if I just search for “i.e. and e.g.” I get multitudes of grammar-related sites that can remind me in just seconds which is which.

I do think grammar is important for clear communication. Punctuation marks are somewhat like traffic signs. If everyone interpreted traffic signs differently, we’d have a lot of accidents and traffic snarls. I just saw somewhere recently the following example:

“Let’s eat, Dad!”

“Let’s eat Dad!”

Big difference. 🙂

I think all those elements of grammar can help the writer communicate more clearly, intelligently,  and effectively.

However, as a reader and listener, I think we have to exercise some grace. There are few things more obnoxious than for someone to correct someone else’s grammar in a social setting. Only parents, teachers, and editors should do that for people under their care. Sometimes I can get distracted by someone’s grammar mistake and miss the main point of what they’re saying. Unfortunately, grammar mistakes do have that effect, which is another reason to try to master them. But I do understand that in the heat of communication the subject matter can overtake good grammar. That’s what editors are for. There are no editors for public speaking, however, so I try to be a little for forgiving when listening.

4 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Grammar

  1. I agree – grammar books are much better used in a “refer to as needed” way. As a teacher, I find it frustrating when students simply do not see the use of proper grammar – but I try!

    My response is here.

  2. Despite being a native English speaker and a fairly good writer, I didn’t really “get” grammar until I tried to learn another language. Grammar, English grammar in particular is hard.

    Grace should be given for spoken grammar and informal notes (like blog comments). In formal written communication, I always look for an editor. (Honey, read this for me and see if it’s alright.) By its very nature written communication receives less grace, that is why the writer needs to seek aid from known compassionate sources before going public with their writing.

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