By a show of hands can anyone tell me what “grammar” is? Many people say: usage of commas or correct homophone usage. But the reality of it is- this elusive beauty called “grammar” is actually just the order of words in a sentence. True grammar is very difficult to flub up- we’re taught from diapers how to speak sentences correctly. A common example of a grammar mistake is using prepositional phrases at the end of sentences: “Who are you going with?” The correct phrasing of this sentence would be: “With whom are you going?” Connotative grammar- or grammar as we know it- is called the usage of the English language. However usage mistakes are not really the end of the world. Often times you can still understand the intent of a sentence when commas aren’t present- for example: these last two sentences.
So why is usage/grammar stupid? It attempts to create a universal English language- which is difficult to do. Strangely though- most people don’t understand the vast field that usage is: the evolution of language; sentence structure; punctuation; homophones; even spelling.
Different words are utilized in different parts of the country- ain’t isn’t typically in the northern vernacular however it is often used in southern states- however if you look into just Illinois- northern Illinoisans will rarely hear the word “ain’t”- however central and southern Illinoisans could find it commonplace. The Merriam-Webster website also talks about how words like “ain’t” are considered words. Many words have been shunned from our language- like funner. William Shakespeare made up words all the time and they are currently in use today- like “frugal” “birthplace” and “addiction.” So why can’t we do the same thing today? Self-proclaimed “grammar Nazis” hate on the words “irregardless” and “legit”- but according to Merriam-Webster- legit is a legit word. A word becomes a word when it is used commonly and is understood by the people. So if you understand what irregardless means- you make it a word.
Let’s talk my biggest pet peeve- punctuation. And not for the reason you’d expect. I hate commas. I think they’re dumb- yes they’re useful but they can be easily avoided or just plainly ignored- like in this article. If you write a sentence that requires commas and just don’t put them in it's not like your sentence is unreadable. It may make it a little more difficult to understand but like a train of thought or stream of consciousness you can understand what it means nonetheless. However I do appreciate the beauty of a comma. Moving a single comma in a sentence can change the meaning entirely and that’s amazing- but for something simple- who cares? Student writers underutilize other punctuation- not the exclamation point. But more impactful punctuation. Like the semicolon and the dash- these structures carry so much meaning in them- the dash shows a progression of thought- moving from one idea to the next. Whereas the semicolon separates two separate sentences but links them together for they are so similar.
“Grammar” is helpful in writing essays. But commas? Who needs 'em. We need to focus on what we are saying. Not how we’re saying it. The argument should always come before the grammar that follows.