Grammar is the skeleton of language. With its strong foundation, it outlines the way that language is read, written, and spoken. It is a complex being—alive, fluid, and present.
But grammar can be a scary word for many people out there. What does it mean? Is it (still) important to society? Why should we care about it? I’d like to demystify the subject for all of you ‘grammarphobes’ out there to show you that grammar is awesome, and it can change your writing (and your life) for the better.
Written in Stone
Grammar is the study of the way that language is constructed. This construction can be broken down into two parts: morphology and syntax.
Morphology is the branch of linguistics that deals with word structure and with functional changes in the forms of words, such as inflection and compounding.
Syntax is the way words are put together—a harmonious relationship between parts or elements, like notes in a musical score. The way that sentences are put together can make the reader sway with the writer, feel and hear their way through the piece.
Think about grammar (and its many components) as the building blocks for language and communication. There are 8 basic components, otherwise known as parts of speech, that are involved in proper grammar use and construction.
A noun can be a person, place, thing, or idea.
The ring sparkled on the table.
A pronoun is a word that is used to replace a noun.
Mark drank the coffee too fast, causing him to cough.
A verb expresses a form of action or state of being.
Afraid of the rising tide, Maria swam to shore.
An adjective modifies or describes a noun or pronoun.
Stacy wore a beautiful dress to graduation.
An adverb modifies or describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb.
Dustin gracefully played the piano for his mother.
A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun and pronoun and any other word in the sentence.
She had to walk through the tunnel to get to her destination.
A conjunction joins words or phrases together.
I wanted an afternoon cup of coffee, but knew the caffeine would leave me tossing and turning at night.
An interjection is a word used to express emotion.
Jamie just got a promotion, Congratulations!
For the sake of dialogue
Grammar lays the foundation for effective communication. Without it, meanings can get muddled or confused more easily. If all of the pieces exist but are not arranged in the proper order, they won’t be useful. Good grammar leads the way to better interactions with others and to more positive working relationships.
Contrary to popular thought, grammar is seamlessly woven into in our everyday lives. It is the groundwork for our society and the way we know how to talk to each other. It lives in our laws, advertisements, and media consumption. You probably reap the benefits of proper grammar most often subconsciously and without being fully aware of it.
Just to show you how imperative proper grammar is to our society, this past Thursday CNN reported that due to a missing comma in a section of a Maine labor law, “A group of Maine dairy delivery drivers will receive $5 million in a proposed settlement for unpaid overtime, according to court records.” 5 million dollars all for a comma. Do you still think that grammar isn’t useful?
Grammar can make you smarter
Learning how to properly construct sentences will produce more than better writing, it can actually develop the brain and its functions. A person’s ability to organize and express ideas in their mind becomes more attainable, and as a result, they experience increased fluency in language. Using grammar and better understanding its rules can also help develop positive habits such as thinking logically and problem solving. Having a strong handle on grammar increases the learners’ accuracy of language. So, basically, grammar makes you smarter!
We can use that knowledge to help optimize content and visibility in markets. We all want our content accessed and able to broaden its scope, and prioritizing good writing is one way of achieving that goal. Knowing and using correct grammar has the power to establish a positive message for you and your brand. Conversely, poor grammar can have the adverse effect on your brand and its platform.
Grammar is able to help in preserving the beauty of language. Good grammar can lead you on a path—one that may be winding and unsteady, but in the end can reveal deep beauty and infinite wonder (or 5 million dollars).
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