10 Grammar Rules You Can And Should Ignore

This post, by Tracy O’Connor, originally appeared on Ghostwriter Dad on 1/7/11.

Some people are pedantic twits when it comes to the squishy rules of grammar.

Truth is, grammar is a powerful tool that lends clear meaning to quality copy, but it’s also far more flexible than most people realize. And a lot of what people claim as hard, fast rules can be completely ignored.

It is important to ensure your writing is easy to understand and that you set the proper tone for your audience. Outside of that, the page is your canvas to paint. Despite conventional wisdom, here are some rules you can safely ignore:

1. Never end a sentence with a preposition. Bow down to this rule without question and you’ll end up with unnatural sentences that are more difficult to understand. If the meaning of your sentence is clear and it sounds natural, go ahead and end it with a preposition.

Consider “What are you waiting for?” versus “For what are you waiting?”

Both are correct, but the second sounds like part of an 18th Century soliloquy.

2. Don’t start a sentence with “and,” “but” or other conjunctions. Starting too many sentences with “and” or “but” will make your writing sound like a second grader’s. But use it in moderation and you will have the voice of the everyman.

This can be particularly useful when you are trying to add emphasis or give your writing a conversational tone.

3. Don’t use double negatives. While you’ll probably want to avoid sentences like “I don’t got none,” there is a place for double negatives, particularly if you enjoy being snarky. “Twilight is a not unpopular series of books,” or “I’m not unfamiliar with your blog.”

Be sure to use it sparingly unless you want your readers to become not unwilling to kick you in places you’d rather be licked.


Read the rest of the post for seven more grammar rules you can sometimes ignore on Ghostwriter Dad.