English is a funny language. It is the only language where your nose runs and your feet smell.

Perhaps funnier are the rules and exceptions of this language.  Just when you familiarize yourself with the rules of a particular concept, the Wren and Martin throws an exception and you’re back to where it all it started, utterly perplexed.

My tryst with grammar.

When I was at school(Rosary Matriculation, Chennai), I was lucky enough to come across wonderful English teachers who walked the extra mile to make us understand the rules and exceptions of the language and I developed an instant liking for the subject and its grammar.  I remember how I used to be worried about gerunds, when the concept was explained and how my life was made simple when someone said, leave the definition and just add ‘ing’ to the verb. Tenses did confuse me a lot. Somehow I did manage to get it right, to a considerable extent. But if you ask me to explain it to you or ask me why I chose the past perfect participle for a sentence, I would probably not be able to convince you. I would not be able to tell you the reason but it would have been the right choice. Prepositions still scare me. Every time I Google the phrase to ensure that I’m using them correctly. Though I can proudly say I know when exactly to use It’s and Its, I cannot state with the same confidence the right usage of who and whom. But the beauty of this language is, you can avoid getting entangled in the complex rules and exceptions by keeping things simple enough.  Simple sentences are better any day when compared to the compound and complex sentences.

Having said all this, there is always a debate on whether the rules of grammar have to be strictly adhered to. Some people say that as long as someone is able to understand what one is trying to convey, grammar can be overlooked. This is mainly applicable for poetry and creative writing. But there is another group where people say that even the smallest grammar mistakes are not pardonable. If you’ve read the books written by many (upcoming) young Indian authors, you would find at least 50% of the books laden with grammatical errors. Now don’t come and pick up a fight with me. It’s up to you to decide which group you fall in.

Obstructing the flow of thoughts

Some people say that paying minute attention to grammar hinders the flow of their thoughts. And even when expressing their thoughts, sometimes they feel that reconstructing a sentence to make it grammatically right, may even spoil the very essence of the words. So in such cases, they take it upon themselves to bend the rules to suit their needs. As a reader, in a few cases, we tend to get lost in the words and we barely notice it. Sometimes the errors outweigh the magic of the words and the results are not that impressive.

It’s not English without the Grammar.

A few others vehemently argue that no sentence is complete or perfect if it doesn’t stay adhere to the syntax. It has been said that an article with a simple language, clearly expressed thoughts and correct grammar would impress a reader better than an article with flowery and grandiloquent words, which doesn’t stick to the basics of grammar. Further, they state that one cannot possibly try to convey their thoughts clearly unless they follow the rules of the language that the others are familiar with. Hence, they feel it can no way act as a barrier; it can only enhance the perception.

So, does Grammar matter?

The most common question I came across was, ‘If Shakespeare can break the rules, why can’t I?’ I am not generalizing that everyone thinks that the rules can be relaxed or that they should be followed to a T. People have their own reasons and justifications. But as a reader, who has read a fair number of books and blogs in various forms of writing, I find it difficult to enjoy an article that is strewn with errors unless it is exceptionally great. Not that I’m criticizing the work or acting hypocritically. Yes everyone makes mistakes, but sometimes certain jarring errors which can be avoided by just a round of proof reading would make a world of a difference. A few errors wouldn’t affect the reader to a great extent. But repetitive errors definitely plays spoilsport. It does obstruct the flow of thought of the reader who is trying to connect with the writer’s words.

I feel that grammar is important, at least to a considerable extent. Of course, the definition of this ‘considerable extent’ may be subjective.

What do you think?

Image Courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos