“Language was invented for one reason…”

I have fond memories of sitting in Mr. Strycker’s English class in seventh grade, diagramming sentences. While others in the class often moaned when we were asked to pull out our notebooks and begin diagramming, I was in my happy place. First drawing a line to separate the subject from the verb, I would then use my trusty ruler as a straight edge to draw precise diagonal lines for the adjectives and adverbs.  Even when it became trickier with gerund phrases and infinitives as noun, I reveled in the challenge. I was a genuine English language nerd. I haven’t diagrammed a sentence since high school, but I do think about subject-verb agreement, split infinitives and dangling modifiers.  Mr. Strycker’s lessons have stayed with me all these years.

Today is National Grammar Day.  An obscure holiday to be sure, but one I salute.  It was founded in 2008 by Martha Brockenbrough who also founded the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.  But in today’s world of hashtags, tweets, emoticons and shorthand phrases, does grammar still matter?  

The new generation might argue grammar rules are no longer relevant, they have become obsolete.  If another person understands what you mean, you have accomplished your goal.  Are the rules antiquated, or have we simply gotten too lazy to apply them? In our digital age, everyone is a writer.  In-person meetings and phone conversations are often replaced with emails, text messages and three-letter abbreviations.  Do you ever consider what impression you are giving the receiver of your email or text?

Every time I push ‘publish’ for a blog post, I experience some uneasiness.  I do love grammar, but I am not an expert.  While blog writing is supposed to be relaxed and natural, I still want to show respect for my readers and clearly and concisely deliver my musings.  

So avoid using the word ‘very” because it is lazy. A man is not very tired, he’s exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason boys. To woo women – and in that endeavor laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essay.

John Keating, Dead Poets Society

So my answer to the question does grammar still matter is yes. It certainly matters to me.

C’est la vie.


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