This post originally appeared on onlinecollege.org.
We have some good news for English class haters: some of the rules your teachers drilled into your brain are absolute hooey in the real world. Who really says “an historic”? And personally, we love starting sentences with “but,” “and,” and “or.” Read on as we explore these and 15 other school writing rules that really don’t have a place in modern writing. English teachers, you have our apologies.
1. WRITING ENDLESSLY TO GET YOUR POINT ACROSS:
As school progresses, we go from small paragraphs to 50-page papers in college, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, in the real world, it’s much better to get your point across in a concise way.
2. SENTENCES CAN BEGIN WITH AND, BUT, OR OR:
This classic English class rule has become obsolete, as people have ignored it so much that hardly anyone observes it anymore. It may not be completely professional, but it’s widely accepted and a great way to get your point across.
3. WAITING FOR A PROMPT:
In school, you’re handed assignment after assignment that spells out exactly how you should approach your writing, but in the real world, rarely do such prompts exist. Learn how to figure out what to write and find the confidence to decide what you want to put into it.
4. LONG PARAGRAPHS:
Chances are, you were taught to construct paragraphs with topic sentences, supporting evidence, and small conclusions, but that’s just too long for the real world. You can better keep the attention of your audience by limiting paragraphs to three sentences at the most.
5. EDITING HAPPENS ALL AT ONCE, AT THE END:
No one’s saying you can’t give your work a once-over before sending it along, but if you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, it might make sense for you to edit as you go, rather than all at once. Fixing problems and having clean copy to work from can make it easier to move on and write the rest of your work.
6. NOT ENDING SENTENCES WITH A PREPOSITION:
Sometimes, you just have to end your sentence in a preposition. A good rule to remember is if you can remove a preposition and the sentence still makes sense, you need to cut it out. If not, keep it. For example: “What did you step in?” needs “in”, but “Where is it at?” could stand to lose the “at.”
7. AVOIDING INCOMPLETE SENTENCES:
Sentences do not have to be complete. They don’t even always have to have a subject, verb, and object. Quick, punchy sentences can help add drama and make a point when used sparingly. Journalists violate this one all the time.
Read the rest of the post, which includes 10 more writing rules that may not apply outside of school, on onlinecollege.org.