With a world full of content, writing something that’s different, new or exciting can be difficult. And then remembering to follow grammar rules while writing can make things even harder. After all, how can you know what to write if you don’t know how to properly write it? With people providing writing and grammar tips everywhere, we’re constantly being told how to write. But today, Senior Content Editor Courtney Kimsey is flipping the script and sharing grammar rules you can actually ignore.
Whether you write for a living, write for fun or just like grammar trends, here are four things to disregard the next time you’re putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
- End a sentence with a preposition
This groundless grammar rule has a long history rooted in Latin and is still taught today. However, it doesn’t make sense when applied to English. Modern stylebooks allow us to ditch this rule, which creates awkward phrasing. You can simply say, “This rule is one I will not put up with” rather than “This rule is one with which I will not put up.” Occasionally, it does make sense to just delete the preposition. For instance, “Where are you going?” makes more sense that “Where are you going to?”
- Begin a sentence with a conjunction
My sixth grade language arts teacher taught me to never begin a sentence with a conjunction — and, but, or, yet, because. I understand why he taught this “rule”: beginning sentences with a conjunction can easily leave you with an incomplete sentence. But it’s completely okay to start a sentence with a conjunction (see what I did there). Ensure you have a complete sentence, and do it in moderation.
- Split those infinitives
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, good for you. An infinitive is the basic form of a verb — walk, shout, write, etc. The split infinitive “rule” states that you should never separate the word “to” and an infinitive, meaning you can’t insert an adverb between those two words. In Latin, an infinitive is one word, so you are unable to split it. Somehow, that rule was applied to English, when it doesn’t even make sense. A common example is “to boldly go” — which splits the infinitive — as opposed to “to go boldly.” It’s a matter of style and preference, not grammar.
- My brother and me.
Do you remember being told to always say “my brother and I”? Well, that’s correct in some cases, but not all. “My brother and I went to the store” is correct, but you would say, “this is a photo of my brother and me.” One simple way to test if you should use “I” or “me” is to leave out the other person. You wouldn’t say “This is a photo of I.” “This is a photo of me” is correct. Another example is “My brother and I walked down the street.” You know this is correct if you remove your brother — “I walked down the street” (as opposed to the incorrect “Me walked down the street”). Both are pronouns, but the form depends on if you need a subject (I) or an object (me).