This is a guest post from our friends at ProWritingAid.
Writing is an essential skill regardless of what type of writer you are. A skilled writer is able to compose messages that are coherent and clear. Good writing, however, is made up of little and big parts. One of the big parts is good grammar. Good grammar makes writing understandable because it follows the fundamental rules of sentence construction, punctuation, and spelling.
The use of appropriate grammar in your writing is an indicator of professionalism and competence. Whether you’re responsible for writing social media captions, a thesis paper, or a fictional novel, using proper grammar shows your readers how serious you are about your content. It’s the foundation for writing a compelling and impactful piece, allowing you to gain respect from your readers.
Good grammar, however, doesn’t come overnight, simply because of how many rules there are. It’s worth running your work through a grammar checker to catch the issues that you might be unaware of. After all, you want to make an impression on your readers based on the content that you’ve written, not because of poor grammar. We’ll mention a little more about our top grammar checker pick later on.
You may ask, “what damage could a few mistakes do?”—a lot, actually. Let’s look at some reasons why you should make the effort to avoid grammar mistakes.
3 Reasons Why Grammar Is Important
Bad Grammar Is Distracting
No matter what your writing niche is, reader engagement is the end goal. Careless mistakes and jumbled sentence structures get in the way of this.
If your reader has to constantly pause to reread what you’ve written because of grammar issues, they’ll get bored and may give up entirely. This is particularly important for fiction writers where reader engagement goes a long way.
Good grammar improves the readability of your piece and allows for a better reading experience. No matter what you’re writing, the clearer your writing is, the better you can convey your ideas.
Ensure Clear Communication At All Times
Grammar is the foundation of effective and clear communication. When your message is clear, you’re able to get your meaning across better.
Think of start-up owners who are trying their best to raise capital via pitch decks and presentations. Their success is hinged on how well they can persuade their audience that their products are worth investing in. Can you imagine a presentation that’s filled with misused punctuation marks? Venture capitalists won’t stick around to hear about your awesome product if the message around it isn’t clear. They’ll simply move on to the next business. And that goes for all types of writing. If your reader, or listener, has to make extra effort to understand what you’re trying to convey, they’re going to move on.
Your ideas deserve to be shared without the possibility of misunderstandings.
Good Grammar Indicates Credibility
Your readers are more inclined to believe what you’re talking about if your language is cohesive and grammatically sound. Having good grammar is an indication of a certain level of awareness and competence on the part of the writer which in turn has a number of benefits.
For fiction writers, a grasp of good grammar will show your audience how committed you are to your craft. Furthermore, bad grammar prevents your readers from being immersed in your story and may even prevent them from fully understanding it. For job-hunters, it shows professionalism when your cover letter and resume are skillfully crafted. And for business owners, good grammar can help to create a positive first impression with potential customers. Your potential business partners will also view poor grammar skills in a negative light.
Great writing with good grammar will help present your business as reliable and trustworthy. What we’re really trying to say is that good grammar is everyone’s business because it makes you sound smart.
Now that we’ve answered, “Why is grammar important?” let’s turn to our next question:
What Are the Basics of Good Grammar?
There are a lot of grammar rules in English. We can’t possibly cover them all in one blog post, but we can certainly go over some of the basics.
Every sentence must have a subject and a verb and these two must agree in number. A singular subject needs a singular verb and a plural subject needs a plural verb.
- Incorrect: There is some amazing books being published this week.
- Correct: There are some amazing books being published this week.
Subject–verb agreement can be as straightforward as the example above or it can be more complex. In cases where you aren’t sure, don’t leave it up to chance. Use a good grammar checker like ProWritingAid to ensure that you get subject–verb agreement right every time.
2. Correct Verb Tense
Verbs come in three tenses: past, present, and future. Verb usage is dependent on its form and tense. The basic consistency rule regarding verbs is that they should remain consistent in tense or form throughout a sentence. Conjugating regular verbs is easy. However, the English language also has irregular verbs which don’t follow standard conjugation rules (such as –ed for past tense). This is where it can be a bit confusing, even for native English speakers.
3. Avoid Run-On Sentences
A run-on sentence is one that is not properly punctuated and results in two or more independent clauses (also known as complete sentences) being connected improperly. Correct punctuation usage plays a huge part in correct grammar because punctuation marks are used to emphasize pauses in speech.
If you have frequent run-on sentences, your writing can be long-winded and exhausting to read. This leads us to commas, the foundation of correct grammatical structure.
4. Use Commas Correctly
Commas are one of the most used and misused punctuation marks. In fact, they are one of the most frustrating grammatical concepts, even for native English speakers. However, they are key to preventing run-on sentences.
Want to know how important commas are? Some companies have paid dearly for incorrect or missing punctuation. Maine Dairy Company had to pay its drivers $10 million because it forgot to include the Oxford comma in its overtime law. The drivers sued and won.
Here are some places to always include a comma:
- Before a coordinating conjunction
- After a dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence
- Between items in lists
- When setting off interjections
This is by no means an exhaustive list; in fact, it barely touches the surface. You can read ProWritingAid’s list of 26 times to use a comma. Even so, remembering them all is no small feat, but their correct usage can make or break your sentences.
No one expects you to know all the comma rules. After all, ProWritingAid exists and will highlight where you’ve missed a comma in your writing.
We cannot emphasize this enough—no one expects you to know all the grammar rules. If you’re a non-native English speaker then this is significantly harder. We covered the basics but there is so much more: dangling participles, pronoun–antecedent agreement, sentence fragments, etc.
Even if you’re an English speaker and/or seasoned writer, there are certain grammar rules that will trip up your writing. So how do you learn the grammar rules and make your writing better? Well, you can start with the basics and work your way up. That’s a bit tedious though and there may be a lot of resources to work through. Plus, you’ll need to know what to apply to your particular type of writing—academic, business, fictional, etc.
That’s where a good grammar checker like ProWritingAid comes in. When you run your writing through ProWritingAid, you’ll get suggestions related to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Not only that, the Grammar Report will help take your grammar to the next level. It uses AI algorithms to catch errors that other grammar checkers miss.
Learning grammar rules can be hard, but ProWritingAid makes it easier. Every suggestion is backed by a brief explanation. These are written in simple language, making it easier for you to implement changes. So really, the more you use it, the more your grammar usage will improve.
Good grammar is everyone’s business. It is instrumental for conveying ideas with clarity, professionalism, and precision. Admittedly, it’s also a bit complex. However, it is worth learning and applying.
Similar to how writing is a skill, good grammar is as well. The more you use it and practice it, the better you’ll become.
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