Inspiration Engagement Pieces 2019-09-19 00:00

Which Grammar Rules Do You Follow? And When Is It Okay to Break Them?

Grammar Rules

We recently offered a prize for the August writing challenge at The Writing Cooperative.

The topic was:

Breaking The Rules (or Not)

What writing rules do you like to break? What writing rules do you always follow?

At The Writing Cooperative, we’re all about helping each other write better. Your submission for this Challenge should address one or both of the above questions by explaining your personal rule-breaking or rule-following practices, and making a case for why other writers might want to employ the same strategies.

We were pretty excited to see what everyone came up with. At ProWritingAid HQ, we are sticklers for knowing the rules, but we also love it when writers thoughtfully and purposely throw the rules to the wind! Accidentally flubbing up your grammar or writing long, tedious, incomprehensible sentences are both very different to making a creative decision to break a rule for increased impact.

In general, we think SPG rules make writing easier to understand. And that’s our primary purpose as writers: to have our readers understand our ideas. But there are occasions when intentionally breaking a rule strengthens an idea.

The prize for the winner was a ProWritingAid lifetime license and a chance to have their article published on our blog.

  1. The Winner
  2. The Runner Up
  3. Special Mentions

The Winner

The winner, Heather M. Edwards, wrote about the pure joy of casting off the shackles of one writing convention: capitalization.

“though it may leave some writers feeling under-dressed at the opera i feel unbridled and perhaps even more honest diving in without capital letters. or maybe it’s just a vice i indulge, like a drink at the end of a long day. but ignoring the scaffolding makes me feel like i can focus on the foundation and experience the true content of what’s inside the building.”

Capitalization aside, Heather’s grammar is excellent. Her sentences are well structured. Her punctuation is otherwise perfect. She “shows” instead of “telling”. Her writing flows well and is full of exuberance. It is not easy to write an article about grammar rules that is so full of joy—I speak from experience! She broke one of the most unbreakable rules of writing, and it worked. Impressive.

You can find her article here:

a case for lowercase.

Congratulations, Heather! Your article about the joys of defying the upper case rule won us over. (And don’t worry, you can turn off ProWritingAid’s capitalization reminders. Just hit “disable rule”.)

The Runner Up

We also promised a ProWritingAid license to the runner up. This was a very difficult decision because there were so many excellent entries (in fact, we’ll link to them all below), but we loved this article by Natalie Frank:

Writing Rules That I Follow and Those That I Thumb My Nose At

In it, Natalie talks about which writing rules help her write better, and which rules hold her back. She, like Heather, enjoys breaking some of the rules, but only with purpose.

“Whichever way we decide to go in terms of following or breaking certain writing rules, we should make sure that we think carefully about our choices so that they are the result of reasoned decisions and not just laziness on our part.”

Thank you, Natalie. We couldn't agree more, and we are sorry that you were grounded so much as a kid! (That will make more sense if you read the article.)

Special Mentions

There were many other entries that were well-written and thought-provoking and so we have added links to them below:

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.