You have, no doubt, started to read an article, a news post, a blog, or anything in between, and thought to yourself, “Boy, was this written by a bot?” Worse yet, you may have wished the bot had been the one doing the writing. In moments like these, you quickly come to realize just how important grammar is in any kind of writing. For even something as short as a tweet, a mangled one fails to have the impact of a well-written one.
Grammar is, simply put, the foundation on which language—both verbal and, in our case, written—is built. If the work you do relies on any kind of written content, you can’t expect to skimp on grammar and receive the kind of engagement you desire. To help truly drive this home, here are five reasons grammar is so crucial.
No matter what the intentions behind your writing—be it to change the world, to persuade, or just to entertain—if you have a tenuous grasp on grammar, then your writing won’t have the clarity it needs to get your message across.
This includes the little stuff, like commas, as well as deeper syntax and sentence structure issues. At worst, a comma in the wrong place can transform the meaning of a sentence. At best, your sentence will be harder for the reader to decipher.
You might’ve heard of this famous example: “Let’s eat, grandma.” Without the comma, it turns into “Let’s eat grandma,” which has an entirely different meaning that only cannibals would find appealing.
A dangling modifier will briefly leave your readers scratching their heads, breaking any flow and ruining any engagement. If your readers have to decipher your meaning, then you’ve done something wrong.
“Walking at sunset, the sights were beautiful.” In that sentence, what’s walking? The sights? That modifier is dangling. A better version might be: “Walking at sunset, I soaked in the beautiful sights.”
These kinds of issues only serve to make things more difficult for your readers. The better you can select the right words in the right order for the message you’re trying to convey, the better it will resonate with readers, and the less likely they will be to misread or misinterpret what you’re telling them.
The clunkier your sentences and paragraphs are, the less professional your writing will be—and the less professional it is, the less likely your readers will believe that you’re an authority for anything. If you want readers to take what you’re trying to say (or sell) seriously, your grammar has to be on point. At the same time, good grammar also allows you to give your writing the tone you want, be it formal, informal, or somewhere in between.
In many situations, your words will be one of the first interactions that someone has with you. Make them count. Poor grammar will only erode the trust you’re trying to build with your readers. Without trust, you’ll find it much harder to accomplish whatever it is you intend for your words to accomplish, be it sell or entertain.
Readers trying to wade their way through written content that’s riddled with errors are probably going to be too distracted to truly engage with what you’re trying to say. That’s reason enough not to have poor grammar. Every comma splice (a comma between two complete sentences), every homophone (two words that sound similar but aren’t: there/there affect/effect), and every dangling modifier make it harder to relay your message—sell whatever it is you’re selling.
Once you’ve moved beyond simply trying to avoid mistakes, harnessing the power of grammar will allow you to elevate whatever you write to the next level. Well-constructed sentences with excellent word choice and an on-point tone will not only be more engaging to read but more persuasively.
On top of that, if you’re writing for any sort of competitive market—say you want your blog about personal finance or knitting to perform well—you’ll be more likely to rise above your competition if you have the grammar to really dazzle your readers.
For non-academic or formal writing, voice is everything— and grammar is important in ensuring that your voice comes through loud and clear. If you want to sound excited, there are much better alternatives than simply ending EVERY! SINGLE! SENTENCE! with an exclamation point. If you want to sound excited, try using words that convey that feeling.
Of course, everything in moderation. The occasional exclamation point won’t detract much from your writing, but too many will do more harm than good. The same goes for ellipses or any other grammar tool.
As they say, with great powers comes great responsibility. That’s as true for superpowers as it is for grammar. You’re free to bend the rules (or perhaps even break them if you’re really careful). Doing so will give your voice just the tone you want it to have. Ultimately, accuracy and clarity should be your end goal with any writing. However, the occasional fragment or run-on sentence can have a great stylistic effect if used intelligently and sparingly. Throw the rules out of the window too often, though, and your writing will devolve into an incoherent mess.
Without grammar, written and verbal communication would be nigh impossible. That alone is one of the main reasons why grammar is important. But, beyond that, poor grammar will be painfully obvious to most if not all readers, while excellent grammar will elevate your writing to the next level. You’ll have more clarity, sound more professional, and engage readers more effectively with great grammar.
Even if you didn’t pay quite enough attention in English class, you can avoid poor grammar. Many word processors will guide you in the right direction, and writing tools like Grammarly will help even more. Crafting words that truly shine takes skill and practice, though, which is why hiring a talented and experienced writer or editor can be so beneficial. Allow them to show you why grammar is so important and reap the benefits.