<< Back to Blog


Posted on September 28, 2011

One man’s grammar is another man’s illiteracy. There is no absolutist principle when it comes to the use of commas, periods, hyphens, apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, etc, except ONE. If your use of these subtle marks means that what you have written is incomprehensible or, worse, is capable of misinterpretation by the reader, then your use of grammar is POOR. At base, this is all these strange little marks are intended to do; to reduce the risk that what is said is incorrectly understood or not understood at all. All the many other criticisms that are levelled at writers’ grammar are usually just down to personal preference, publishing house style or plain snobbishness. It is not, for instance, a mortal sin to put a comma before the word ‘and’, although some would have it so; indeed I would regard it as occasionally necessary because of the overarching need for clarity.

The writer has always to think of what he or she is trying to say and whether the words on the screen or paper convey the correct meaning.

Tags: Clarity, Grammar, snobbery