I know, from experience, that there is nothing more soul crushing than a person calling you up on your grammar. It insults your intelligence and destroys your confidence in writing – and it sucks. There’s a funny history behind grammar, and indeed, its importance in the world of wordsmithing. One question we should all ask ourselves; who actually decides what correct format a sentence should take? Is there a board of English masters that rule on issues surrounding grammar and syntax, or is it a general consensus that’s taken from all of the literature ever composed?
Let me tell you a story about the olden days. Way back in the 18th century, English became one of the more popular languages. It was seen as very sophisticated and no upper-class individual would want to be seen dead without an ample understanding of the dialect. This lead to many things, one of which was a standard form of ‘grammar’. Of course, everyone understood ideas such as full stops, capital letters and question marks, but a lot of issues – or rather, invented issues – started to appear as the language evolved.
Grammar was an easy way to make money and before anyone knew it, dozens of ‘books’ and publications were created to educate people on grammar. Naturally, the competition became quite strong, and the so-called ‘English experts’ had to literally invent new rules to make thicker books and release new editions. The appeal was to the buyer’s charisma and intelligence; no one wants to be caught out on their speech – after all, it’s the basis of 99% of our communication. So after the boom came and went, the English language was an abused collection of countless rules that I guess, for a large majority of exchanges, was only used to bicker and squabble about the rules pertaining to it.
There are countless rules that don’t logically make sense. A good example is the split infinitive – there’s absolutely no reason to intentionally structure your sentence differently because an outdated rule dictates that you should do so. I’m not saying that any writer should be sloppy with structure, syntax and layout, but the rules of grammar exist to make writing, and reading, easier for both parties involved. Be careful with “there’s” when you mean “there’re”, but don’t stress over every sentence you craft because I assure you, there will be dormant rules in a cobweb-clad books that will inevitably prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you have no understanding of what the English language is.