Saturday, March 7, 2015

Grammar by Caleb Wright

I hate grammar. I don’t mean that in the way most people do; spelling things right, having clear sentence structure, not overusing punctuation, etc. are all incredibly important to me. However, grammar’s purpose is not self-fulfilling. We should not just have proper grammar for the sake of proper grammar. The true purpose of grammar is to make writing clear; toward that end, there are a grammatical tweaks that should become more popular.

Technically, if you quote someone, and that quote appears at the end of the sentence, the end-of-sentence punctuation should be inside that quote. For example, the other day, a teacher told me “Caleb, you’re the worst student I’ve ever had.”

The problem arises when the end-of-sentence and end-of-quote punctuation differs. For example, my teacher did not mean that as a question; it was, quite obviously, a declarative statement (and probably a true one). But, what if I asked you, dear reader, how you would react if a teacher called you “the worst student ever?”

Notice that the question mark appears within the quotation marks, because that is what some conventions dictate. In this instance, British/Canadian grammar rules are much better, since they require the question mark outside of the quotation. Periods and commas are traditionally still included in the quotation marks, but can be placed outside if doing so makes the sentence more clear.

The Oxford comma is another great example. For an explanation of why it is important, simply know why Tim Tebow uses it:

Last is a more personal preference: ending sentences with prepositions. It is perfectly legitimate. “Where’s he at?” may not sounds as intelligent as “Where is he?”, but the purpose is accomplished without any confusion. I have a lot of things to be happy about. “Stranded” prepositions are nothing to be frightened of.

Have better grammar. Make it correct, but more importantly, make it clear and easy to understand.

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