Grammar rules exist so that we don’t sound like complete idiots when we write. Most of them have a good reason for being around; after all, clarity in communication is a good thing. A virtue, even.
However, that’s not to say that all grammar rules are written in stone. In fact, some of them seem to be the work of rabid grammarians, who gleefully enforce confusing syntax and awkward construction in the name of “proper English.”
To heck with that, I say. Here are three grammar rules that were made to be broken.
1. Ending a sentence with a preposition
I have no idea where this rule came from. What I do know is that many people, in an effort to keep from ticking off the Grammar Police, start twisting their sentences around so as not to end them with prepositions.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the new syntax is terribly awkward and painful to read. Take the first sentence of this section, for example. “From where this rule came” sounds like something Yoda would say, not me. A big part of blogging is showing your personality through words. How can you do that when you’re twisting your phrases to suit some archaic rule?
In the interest of clarity and readability, it’s quite all right to end a sentence with a preposition.
2. Beginning a sentence with “and” or “but”
Somebody, somewhere, once decided that you shouldn’t begin sentences with conjunctions. Maybe it was an overzealous teacher who thought her students were doing it too much. My guess is that it was frustrated mothers who got sick and tired of hearing their children start every single sentence with “But Mo-om!”
The rule even got screen time in the movie Finding Forrester, when Sean Connery and Rob Brown have an entire conversation about it (and deliberately start their sentences with the offending words in order to make their points).
Regardless of how it began, you don’t have to stick with it. It’s perfectly all right to start your sentences with “and” or “but.” It’s a great way to grab attention and emphasize a point. But, as in all things, take it in moderation.
3. Splitting infinitives
How often have you heard that you’re not allowed to let another word come between “to” and its verb? Some people hold that construction with the same reverence as is typically given to marriage: that which the writer hath wrought together, let no man tear asunder.
Except that it’s really not that big of a deal. Come on: “to go boldly where no man has gone before” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “to boldly go.” If it sounds better to split the infinitive, then take an axe to it!
Don’t cling to the ancient rules just because your high school English teacher told you to. Be a rebel and break free of these nonsensical shackles!