A gripe with grammar
Active and passive voice, direct and indirect objects, prepositional phrases, compound and complex sentences ……urrggghh!!!!
Whilst I understand that grammar is more than spelling works correctly and placing them in appropriate spots within sentence , it makes me wonder if anyone truly enjoys grammar? Why does it have to be so darn confusing and hard? Isn’t it enough to get a story ‘down’ and for it to have believable or identifiable characters without having to be concerned about all of this?
Along my journey as a writer I’ve bumbled along with scant knowledge of the rules of grammar. This is a bit of a dark secret between you and I as despite graduating as a teacher with English as my minor, I ‘got through’ my education on raw talent, derived from functional language rather than a formal or textbook style of learning.
I spent my formative years in an education system which promoted functional language structure. (that is to say, spelling and grammar came second to the way in which the language flowed. So long as others could understand the concepts, the structure was ‘unimportant’) Whilst I understand that this style of learning was in reaction to the lowering standards of literacy and to allow literacy to be more accessible; there is now a generation of people whose grasp on the basics of grammar is at best, low.
Just for fun, consider these common grammatical mistakes
“If I would have known about the party, I would have gone to it.”
Certainly something that many people would say aloud. When written, a large percentage know there is something wrong with it – but perhaps might not now what – or how to fix it. The issue here is past principals.
The correct form for this sentence would be:
“ If I had known about the party I would have gone.”
Bring verses Take
“When we go to the party, let’s bring a bottle of wine.”
The issue with this is the movement of the verb. When viewing the movement of something from the point of arrival – it is correct to use the word “bring”.
“When you come to the party, please bring a bottle of wine.”
If viewing the movement of something from the point of departure, it is correct to use “take”
“When we go to the party , let’s take a bottle of wine.”
With the editing process of anthologies and half written novels along with inevitable rewriting of long tracks of work ahead of me this year, the realisation that I need to go back to basics with grammar makes me want to whimper in the corner. However, I am made of tougher stuff, and will arm myself with the Grammar Girls wisdom.
Many people associate grammar with errors, correctness and following a set of unbending rules. One thing I have learnt along my way is that relearning grammatical terms down’t make one a better writer, but it does deepen your understanding on how words are arranged to create better sentences. With this knowledge, I believe, I will be able to become a more versatile and confident writer.
Do you have a pet peeve with grammar?
Do you let grammar stand in the way of a good story?
Image by Seryo via Flickr