Break a Few Grammar Rules

breaking grammar rulesWriting is hard. And English grammar rules can be strict. But sometimes, you need to break them to become a better writer.

“When we came back to Paris it was clear and cold and lovely,” writes Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast (1964).

This sentence flouts a few basic grammar rules for grammatical purists, with its simple adjectives, repetitive “and” and lack of a comma after “Paris.”

But his words sing.

 

Writing is hard. And English grammar rules can be strict. But sometimes, you need to break them to become a better writer. Share on X

 

How to write is drilled into us by our culture, upbringing and our teachers. We’re not taught how to let our words sing. And often, we follow grammar rules intuitively (online tools help to make sure we do, no matter what). Take this rule: Adjectives in English shall be written in this order: opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose, noun.

Try it. You can have a “lovely little old rectangular green French silver pocket knife.” Better not to mess with that order. And since size comes before color, a “green big car” can’t exist. Or can it?

Yes, you need to break this rule eventually. For example, if you have two big cars and one small one, and one of the big cars is green and the small one is also green, you have to refer to the “green big car,” to be specific, thus breaking the rule.

That’s why artificial intelligence will never replace a good writer — or a sharp editor.

So, good writing follows specific rules that can guide you. Great writing goes way beyond these rules. It helps set you apart. You write and use what you know and find words that inspire you to get your readers involved. You tell stories.

And, yes, you are allowed to start sentences with “and” and “but,” just as Hemingway did: “But sometimes, when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going […], I would write one true sentence and then go on from there.”

Keep on going, write your true sentence, and occasionally silence a grammar rule or two.

 

Writing Should Open a Vein

 

Great Content Connects

Newsletter Signup   

 

I’ll be in your inbox every other Wednesday with actionable content + design tips and tricks, checklists and tools that you can apply immediately. I’ll share with you links to relevant blog posts (mine and curated recommended must-reads) and other engaging content that will help you amplify your message and find the right site design. 

 

 

Copyright © Tekla Szymanski Content + Design LLC. All rights reserved. Please share/quote with attribution.

 

About the author

Content Designer, Editor, Writer and Web Developer for content-rich websites with a global reach. Founder of Content+Design™ LLC. Helping you focus on your content to get your message out.

Why Content + Design™ LLC?

This is your one-stop shop for content-rich websites: content strategy, content design, site care.
Why me, you ask? Most web designers and developers don’t have a content-creating background. And many content designers don’t have creative experience.
I have both.
Together, we’ll amplify your message and adapt the right design to it.

FREEBIES DOWNLOAD

Newsletter

30-Minute Consultation Call

CTA Call widgetLet’s brainstorm how you can improve your site’s content + design with actionable steps.

Certifications

NYS-certified woman-owned business

Google-certified Project Management

Yoast SEO for WordPress

Yoast Structured Data

Yoast Keyword Research

Memberships

Women in AI

 

Online News Association

 

NYWICI Award-winning member

 

EFA Member

 

Ellevate Member

 

Society of Professional Journalists
Freelancer Union

 

National Writers Union

 

PEN Editors Network

 

Pen America

Copyright

Creative Commons License

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Please share and attribute. Don’t copy. Thank you.