Kathy Edens
Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist
Published Oct 20, 2017

Which Grammar Rules to Ignore

Some rules were made to be broken, right? There are a few grammar rules that don't hold water in today's world of tweets and conversational writing styles. Since the focus of most writing on the web is to get your reader's attention, writing in a relaxed voice is common…and necessary.

Here are 6 grammar rules you should ignore when writing for the internet masses.

Contents:

  1. 1. Don't end a sentence with a preposition
  2. 2. Don't begin sentences with a conjunction
  3. 3. Avoid using passive voice
  4. 4. Don't turn nouns into verbs
  5. 5. Never split your infinitives
  6. 6. When to use "whom"
  7. Conclusion

1. Don't end a sentence with a preposition

This is an old-school rule that hardcore grammarians insist on. But then what should we end our sentences with?

The two previous sentences sound too stuffy and obsolete when rephrased to avoid a preposition at the end:

  • This is an old school rule on which hardcore grammarians insist. But then with what should sentences end?

Your readers would find you rather pretentious, don't you think?

2. Don't begin sentences with a conjunction

But sometimes your sentences sound much better and flow more freely when you ignore this rule. And you sound much more relatable and conversational. So, you can ignore this antiquated rule and write to please your readers, not the grammar police.

3. Avoid using passive voice

I teeter on the fence when it comes to using passive voice. I try like heck not to use it, but sometimes you can't avoid it. I find it especially difficult when writing about technology. Consider the following sentences:

  • To address this possibility, code was written and inserted in appropriate places. Especially if you're writing about a company-wide effort that includes several individuals' work, identifying the subject can be hard to do.

  • After sprint planning, a product backlog is created to guide the team's efforts. When listing action steps that you don't know who will perform, this sentence makes more sense.

4. Don't turn nouns into verbs

You can't help but break this rule every now and again. Especially when you need to google a topic for research. Or when you email, text, or message somebody. How about when you friend or unfriend someone? Need I continue?

Particularly in technology, we use nouns as verbs. We tweet, we blog or vlog, and we skype. And sometimes when referring to food and drink, we verb our nouns.

  • Can I beer you? when offering to buy someone a drink.

  • Let's go fooding when restaurant-hopping with friends.

  • When do you want to coffee? when scheduling a coffee date.

5. Never split your infinitives

Ever since Star Trek mainstreamed "To boldly go where no man has gone before," we split our infinitives constantly. It just sounds better.

  • You must clearly understand the rules before you can break them.

  • Let's quickly conclude the proceedings and move on to the next item on the docket.

  • I've decided to gradually get rid of knick-knacks and declutter my home.

Perhaps you have finally understood how splitting infinitives can sound much better. (See what I did there?)

6. When to use "whom"

You probably don't ponder when to use "whom" anymore. It's more common, especially in speech, to use "who" instead. "Whom" sounds affected, stiff, and pompous.

You don't ask "Whom you gonna call?" when referring to Ghost Busters. Nor are you asked "Whom do you love?" Really the only time I hear "whom" anymore is when referring to For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Conclusion

We write for readers. For some, that means ignoring the above rules and more as they write conversationally. For others, strict adherence to grammar rules is their writing style and voice.

What's your opinion? Where do you fall on the continuum of obeying or flaunting grammar rules?

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Kathy Edens
Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist

Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything. Check out her books: The Novel-Writing Training Plan: 17 Steps to Get Your Ideas in Shape for the Marathon of Writing and Creating Legends: How to Craft Characters Readers Adore... or Despise.

I don't think in terms of rules when I write. I listen to the sound of the voice ringing in my head, and if it sounds right, I write it down.

By dwitt724 on 12 December 2017, 07:10 PM

You must already have a good sense of grammar! Not everyone is as lucky...

By writersneed2 on 12 December 2017, 07:23 PM