Oh, dear. This is probably giving you bad high school flashbacks, isn’t it? Red pen marks scrawled across your paper. A big message printed in capital letters and underlined at the top, “SEE ME ABOUT YOUR GRAMMAR.”
In all likelihood, if that’s your experience with grammar, you probably never really learned about it. Grammar, to a lot of people, is this complex beast that only ever seems to come up when someone is losing an argument on social media. (I see you out there on Twitter typing *their.)
In reality, grammar’s just a set of rules built to make English easier to both write and read. It’s supposed to help us, not spark arguments. (Seriously. Who proofreads their tweets?) Plus, let me let you in on a secret that Grammar enthusiasts don’t want you to know: sometimes, it’s okay to break the rules.
But, for today, let’s just focus on why it’s important.
Good Grammar Makes Content Easier to Read
A little louder for the people in the back (and for my semi-deaf Dad). A piece of content – be it an article, paragraphs on a website, or even just a post on Facebook – is supposed to do a couple of things: keep readers engaged and convey information. Poor grammar prevents this from happening.
Which leads me to the other half of my point: bad grammar sucks to read.
Have you ever been reading something and had to go back to the beginning just to understand what the heck was going on? Yeah, that’s most likely because of poor grammar.
This happens easily with dangling modifiers, for example – a fancy phrase for a super common offence. Dangling modifiers create a disconnect for readers, often causing them to either go back to the beginning and reread or, more likely, stop reading and continue scrolling. And they’re easy mistakes to make.
For example: With one eye on the window, the storm outside cracked.
So, tell me, who has the eye on the window? The storm? Probably not, but that’s what the sentence suggests, which means I don’t understand what’s actually happening in this sentence. And, as a reader, I’m now annoyed.
When I’m reading a short story, I might figure out what’s happening and keep going. But, if I’m reading already-somewhat-dry content on a website, I might just close the window. Which, as a business, is the last thing you want.
So, keep the grammar well-written, consistent, and, of course, very, very good. And, if grammar’s a challenge, you can always hire a copyeditor.