Is grammar really important?
Good command of the English grammar has often been equated with intelligence. But, why can't I just say what I want to say and get on with it? Must I have to be a stickler to get across my message? And what has my grammar got to do with my intelligence?
Much ado about grammar 1
Is Grammar really important?
Some time ago, I stumbled upon a best-selling novel—hard cover, spot-laminated and tastefully designed. I couldn't help falling in love with the book, more so, after reading the synopsis at the back. I wasted no time in paying for the book.
As is customary with me, I began reading from the very first page—title page, technical page, dedication to acknowledgments. The acknowledgments particularly struck me. The author who happens to be a woman (forgive my failure to commit her name to memory) was full of thanks to God that her trusted editor was on vacation and so was not around to bother her with the use of 'correct grammar'. I read on, but while reading, what I noticed was that rather than narrate in the past tense, she was rendering the narration in the present continuous, as though she was writing only a synopsis. But grammar? Perfect! So much for someone celebrating her new-found liberty at the use of loose expressions and bad grammar!
There have been debates on the place of good grammar in communication. Many have argued that the most important thing in communication is intelligibility. To them, if their audience understand them, then there is no problem. While waving off the importance of good grammar, a friend of mine said:
I couldn't agree with you more...it's wonderful to get it right, but in the grand scheme of it all, it makes no difference. Usually, I find that grammar fascists are the least creative or confident among us. A cousin of mine, a long time ago, who came from an academic background, used to drive me ‘insane’ by correcting every single little mistake... like saying 'different to' instead of 'different from'... that kind of thing. God help me if I ever split an infinitive! Eventually, I realised that it was their way of trying to place themselves above me in the only way they could, and it was a response to my own very creative talents. All in all, they are best ignored, as far as I'm concerned. Great songs, poems, films and literature have all been created with faulty grammar.
True words! To support my friend further, let me also tell him that nobody would arrest that our talented singer or poet for the wrong use of grammar. Nobody would fine him for improper grammatical expressions either. However, juxtaposed with another singer who is not only talented but can also hold his audience spell-bound while addressing them, our friend's hero palls into insignificance. Our friend here can boil as he wishes, the truth remains that good grammar has become a major yardstick for measuring intelligence. It has become the bastion of knowledge.
When effective communication matters, the importance of good grammar can never be over-emphasised. You may have a very important message to deliver, but will lose a majority of you target audience when you keep pissing them off with bad grammar. Many of the benefits of using good grammar are the same as having a good vocabulary, the most important one being effective communication. Grammatical errors in both speaking and writing can distract from the message itself and cause negative feelings in the listener or reader. Avoiding grammatical errors can help you avoid embarrassment.