Ever since your first writing assignment in grade school you have heard how important grammar is, but now you’re asking “why?”
There are countless reasons why grammar is essential for written communication, even in text messages, but to make things more simple we have narrowed it down for you to our top five.
What Is Grammar?
Grammar is the core structure of a language. It is composed of rules that govern how words can be put together to form sentences.
There are five fundamental elements of grammar: punctuation, tense, word order, determiners, and connectors.
These five elements work together to create meaning, and when any of them are used incorrectly, meaning can be changed or lost.
To keep this from happening, try using a grammar checker as your second set of eyes to make sure you don’t accidentally overlook any grammatical errors.
How Do the Five Elements of Grammar Create Meaning?
If we take a simple sentence, eg He went to the shop.and change even just one of the five grammatical elements, you can see their importance in creating meaning.
If we change the punctuation, then the factual sentence is turned into a question: He went to the shop?
If we change the tense, then one completed task in the past becomes a continuous event in the present: He goes to the shop.
If we change the word order, then the normal everyday occurrence is turned on its head by introducing a shop that moves: The shop went to him.
If we change the determiner, then instead of going to one shop he is now going to every shop, which would be quite a challenge: He went to every shop.
If we change the connector, then we are introducing a second unknown event that almost prevented him from visiting the shop: travelling, he went to the shop.
As each element is changed, the meaning of the sentence is changed and the original intended meaning is lost.
What Is the Purpose of Grammar?
The purpose of grammar is to allow writers to convey specific meanings to their audience. It is the difference between “Your dinner” and “You’re dinner.”
If you want to avoid coming across as the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, read our top five reasons why grammar is the most important part of writing.
1) Convey Your Exact Meaning Through Correct Punctuation
Correct punctuation allows you to convey your meaning easily and smoothly.
Punctuation is a set of symbols used in writing to divide words and clauses and to show how the sentence should be read.
Punctuation allows writers to convey subtle and precise meaning to their readers.
There are 14 types of punctuation used in English, some of these are:
They allow you to set the tone, stress certain words or phrases, and create a flow in your writing.
Set the Tone with Punctuation
Two identical sets of words can elicit totally different moods if their final punctuation is changed.
Changing a period to an exclamation point can stress a certain idea or create a sense of tension.
Changing a period to a question mark adds a sense of doubt and uncertainty.
Using punctuation to set the tone is clearer and more concise because it does not add any words.
Stress Words or Phrases with Commas
Commas are powerful tools because they can create different effects by stressing certain parts of a sentence.
They direct a reader’s attention to key words and phrases, which gives the writer even more control over how their work will be interpreted.
Create a Flow in Writing
As well as stressing words and phrases, punctuation is essential for controlling the flow of writing.
Punctuation can slow a reader down, asking them to focus on a certain idea, or speed a reader up, thereby creating a sense of momentum or tension.
The flow of writing is created by correct grammar, a logical structure, clear connections, and varied language.
All of these elements help the reader to understand the exact meaning of your words.
2) Accurate Grammar Makes Writing Easier to Read
Along with allowing you to control the way that your writing is interpreted, accurate grammar also makes writing easier to read.
Bad grammar can make even simple sentences difficult to understand.
To demonstrate this, I have taken a quote from the Great Gatsby and added some arbitrary punctuation.
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life! Is when they are watching their whole world (fall apart) and all they can do is stare blankly?”
Despite making no changes to the words, the meaning of this quote has been almost entirely lost. The correct punctuation is far simpler and more powerful.
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
Along with incorrect punctuation, other common grammatical errors include run-on sentences, misused homophones, dangling modifiers, and sentence fragments.
Each of these can create confusing sentences.
How to Identify Common Grammatical Errors
To be able to avoid grammatical errors in your writing, it is important first to identify them.
- Run-on sentences are when multiple complete sentences are attached without any punctuation. For example: Always use punctuation between sentences without punctuation they are difficult to read.
Reading this sentence is challenging because it provides no pauses. It can be easily fixed by adding a period after the word “sentences” to give: Always use punctuation between sentence. Without punctuation they are difficult to read.
- Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. For example: Sometimes it can be confusing to know witch homophone to use.
This sentence confuses the word “which” with “witch” because they are both homophones. If it was spoken aloud you would not notice this humorous mistake.
- Dangling modifiers are words or phrases that are separated from the subject they are meant to be describing. For example: Exhausted after hours of editing, the computer was shut down for the night.
Unless this computer has developed the ability to think, it is probably a writer who became exhausted and shut it down for the night, and not the computer itself.
- Sentence fragments are parts of a sentence that have been disconnected from the main clause. For example: Rode bike to school, arrived late.
In this sentence the subject is missing and it is not stated “who” avoided sentence fragments.
3) Incorrect Grammar Can Distort Your Meaning
As we have already established, incorrect grammar can make texts difficult to read but it can do even more than that. It can distort the meaning entirely.
Imagine seeing a sign that says:
Thank you for your donation! You have helped someone. Get a job.
You may be confused and a little offended. Is this sign suggesting that you need to stop donating and go out and get a job?
Although grammatically correct, the meaning of the sign has been entirely changed by a single period.
By taking out the period, the writer’s true meaning is revealed:
Thank you for your donation! You have helped someone get a job.
Now it is clear that the sign is thanking people for helping others to obtain a job and not critiquing them.
Although most people could work out the meaning of this sign even without the commas, there are many times where that is not possible.
The sentence No more coffee. has an entirely different meaning if a comma was used after the word “no”: No more coffee.
Both sentences are perfectly logical and credible but have opposite meanings. The first requests that the person be provided with no more coffee and the second demands more.
The only way to work out which meaning is correct is by looking at the commas.
4) Good Grammar Increases Credibility
Not only is good grammar essential for meaning, it can also increase credibility.
This is really important if you are writing for a business and need to stand out from the crowd.
If a potential buyer reads two ads for similar products, one with perfect grammar and the other peppered with mistakes, which one would they be more likely to purchase?
It is not a surprise that most buyers would opt for the product that is marketed with perfect grammar. According to RealBusiness, 60% of people said that bad grammar would stop them from purchasing a product.
If a business publishes work containing grammatical errors, it gives the impression that they do not care about details. This makes them look unprofessional which does not reflect well on their product.
Keep your competitive edge by making sure that you proofread every single document and prevent those pesky grammatical errors from slipping through the net.
5) Error-Free Grammar Is Important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Our final reason why grammar is important, if the previous four have not managed to convince you yet, is that it aids your search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization, more commonly known as SEO, is the process of improving a website’s visibility and ranking on Google.
How Does Good Grammar Improve SEO?
Good grammar improves SEO in a simple four-step process.
Step 1: Grammatical errors make writing more difficult to read.
Step 2: When there are hundreds of articles for each search term, readers will click off a badly written page and choose another.
Step 3: Search engines will see this and understand that your content isn’t optimized for user experience.
Step 4: As a result, it will provide your content a lower ranking than higher-quality sites that provide a better user experience.
The opposite is true when a website has perfect grammar. Users will spend longer on the site, giving it more authority and therefore allowing it to rank higher on Google.
Grammar Is the Most Important Part of Writing
Grammar is essential for communication. It makes texts easier, clearer, and more enjoyable to read.
Your content becomes irrelevant if your grammar is so poor that the work is illegible. Whether you are writing a novel, an essay, an email, a booklet, or online content, correct grammar is paramount.
What part of grammar do you find most difficult? Let us know in the comments if you would like any specific grammar help articles that we don’t already have!
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