Have you ever wondered who makes up the grammar rules?
Me, too. And why—at least in the English language—do they keep changing?
Well, the reality is that society makes the rules—and society is constantly changing. New words replace old, slang becomes a listing in official dictionaries—and the trend will continue at an increased rate of change.
As a writer, I do care about grammar. Self-published books have the reputation of being riddled with mistakes (I’m doing my best to rise above that lower standard). But as I’ve gotten into the indie author world, I’ve also come to this conclusion:
Readers are much more forgiving about grammar than writers.
One: As a recent example, there was a discussion on the American Christian Fiction Writers email loop about the proper use and spacing for ellipsis. Those are the 3 dots … that replace missing words, or show a pause or fading out of speech). People quoted the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Style Guide. Should an ellipsis have an additional period at the end of a sentence? Should the fourth dot come before or after the ellipsis (as if anyone could tell!). Should there be spaces between the dots? If so, Why does MS Word change 3 dots into an ellipsis character?
You know what? Readers don’t really care. They get it no matter if you use 3 or 4 dots, space between or after. What they care mostly about is that you craft a great story.
Two: I also don’t think they agonize if I say, “I wish John was here” or “I wish John were here.” Did you know it makes a difference if it’s at all possible for John to be there or not? Do you care? 🙂
Three: Should we be crazed about whether we hyphenate or don’t hyphenate phrases like four-wheel-drive? (or should it be four-wheel drive?). Or four-year-old vs four year old?
Four & Five: Grammarians cringe over the misuse of awhile vs a while, and alright vs all right. Many claim ‘Alright’ isn’t a word (although it’s been in use for over a hundred years), but that isn’t stopping it from rapidly becoming the norm. I may have to resist this one, but it still won’t make a difference to the majority of readers.
Sometimes the meanings of sentences change due to wrong pucntuation, and then it does matter, and we must do it correctly. But I have to laugh at some of the explanations, especially when they don’t make sense after you read them.
And with the proliferation of texting and auto-correcting typing, we’ll be seeing 90,000 word novels cut by a third!
u think so 2? <3 2 hear ur opinions.