Poor Grammar. It has such a strong, hateful stereotype, doesn’t it? People call it unnecessary, ugly, devious, and even sadistic. But Grammar and its convention henchmen are actually quite helpful and vital to the English language, at least literarily. The trick is how to use it.
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Sometimes, people forget that the point of grammar is for it to be virtually invisible. It should be a “magic trick,” a sleight of literature, an illusionary talent of the writer. When you are reading a piece of writing, you should not be focused on its grammar; instead, its grammar should help you focus on the writing itself.

Grammar’s sole purpose is to silently guide you through understanding the content of the piece you’re reading. Think of Grammar as the guy who holds the torch in the dark cave. Face it: you’d be fumbling in the dark without it.

Specifically, in poetry, grammar (or lack thereof) should act as more of a map of how to read a poem. Punctuation indicates pauses, breaks, and changes of thought. Line breaks do the same thing, and capitalization is optional. This makes grammar a choice more than a rule in poetry; it is a tool that can be experimented with.

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Prose, of course, follows different rules. The reader expects prose to be reliable and consistent. Imagine if you were reading Pride and Prejudice and Austen decided to insert periods in place of commas and eliminated capitalization all together. The narrative would be quite confusing and almost unfollowable as a result.

So, Grammar deserves a better rap than it’s given. Whether you’re a writer or not, take it upon yourself to memorize grammatic rules and educate yourself on the magic of English conventions.

As always, feel free to contact me or comment below with any questions, suggestions, or comments! I’d love to hear from you.

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