By Annette Rey
A myriad of grammar guides exist and I have half a dozen of them. The one I find most extensive and simply written is Who’s (oops) Whose Grammar Book Is This Anyway? By C. Edward Good. This book was originally published as A Grammar Book for You and I (oops! Me). This is my go-to resource for sentence construction.
An endorsement of this book was written by author Bryan A. Garner. Behind his name are titles of books he has had connection with. (I prefer: with which he has had connection. Mr. Good says sentences ending with prepositions in informal writing are acceptable, as well as not inserting a comma after the introductory word of a sentence: and, but, so. The lack of a comma after these words is another practice I am uncomfortable with. But I am adjusting.)
I have said writers need to be flexible and the above points are a good example of that. We must continue to learn, as styles and societal preferences do change. But the basic structure of grammar remains fairly constant – which is a good thing.
You’ll see a wide range of opinion as evidenced by the writings of many people. Some of those opinions stem from poor schooling and/or poor student attention while in school. For instance, I was taught not to end a sentence with with. Mr. Good points out that esteemed persons have written this way for centuries.
Mr. Good gives an example of an ambiguous sentence, “I smelled you frying chicken.” Which is being smelled – the person or the chicken? Grammar rules will help the writer of that sentence convey his intended meaning.
Our writing must be guided by grammar rules. Grammar helps us clarify our thinking. We want to invite our readers into a world of our creation. We want them to clearly understand our vision. If they are confused because our thoughts ramble or are poorly phrased, they won’t stay in our world. And our work will be relegated to a dusty bookshelf.
Do your homework and love the work of crafting words. It will pay off in many ways.
A list of some helpful reference books for writers will be added to the category Books on this site (WritersBlockNoMore.com).