Why I Really Don’t Care About Your Grammar

Click on the image to learn more about Grammarly. Thanks for inspiring this post, Grammarly!

Click on the image to learn more about Grammarly. Thanks for inspiring this post, Grammarly!

Every once in a while, a friend will express concern that I’m judging their grammar.*
I’m not. Yes, it is my job to communicate in writing and yes, I notice misspellings and most mechanical errors. I can’t help it. But much of the time, I don’t care about your grammar. I only care about mine. So I would appreciate it if everyone would just relax.

Three main reasons I’m not uptight about grammar:

1.  In casual usage, formal grammar can actually be distracting.
*Did you notice the subject/pronoun disagreement in that first sentence? Yeah, that bothered me. It bothered me because it was my error and I don’t want anyone to think I don’t know better. But that particular error never bothers me when someone else makes it, because that’s how most people speak. And sometimes, using the plural pronoun is less distracting than using the singular pronoun and having to choose a gender. (As in, “A friend will express concern that I’m judging her grammar,” which would imply that the friend was a girl, and might have you wondering if I meant you or your sister.)

You may also notice that I don’t give a rat’s patootie about starting a sentence with a conjunction, though that is technically incorrect, too. I’ve already done it at least four times in this post, because I’m a rebel like that. Which brings me to point #2.

2.  Sometimes rule-breaking works better.
In a blog post, I will write run-on sentences when I’m trying to convey breathless excitement. I will write fragments for emphasis. Occasionally, I will incorrectly structure a series, because I prefer the rhythm with a whole bunch of conjunctions instead of commas. I break rules to establish tone or to create an effect. I try not to habitually break rules, because that can become a distraction of its own. But in my own writing, I use the rules to my advantage and disregard them when it suits me. It’s a choice I make, and other people can have that choice, too.

 3.  Lots of smart people suck at spelling and grammar.
I learned this early in life. Some of my super-smart friends were terrible spellers. Spelling and grammar come naturally to me. You know what doesn’t? Math. So if you don’t mock my inability to do quick math, I will not raise an eyebrow if you occasionally misspell things.

Language is just a tool for communication. Communication is sending and receiving messages, right?

If I’m sending a message, I want my grammar to support that message and not distract from it. So I follow rules to the extent that it helps my audience receive the message. Sometimes that means following formal rules; sometimes it doesn’t. I guarantee you, when I’m commenting on Facebook, the only reason I care about my grammar is because some smartass will point out my errors, especially if they think I’m a Grammar Nazi. Which I’m not. (Fragment for emphasis, see?) When I’m texting with friends, I don’t even think about mechanics.

If I’m receiving a message from you, and you are a friend of mine who’s attempting to communicate with me, whether that be on Facebook, via text, or in conversation over dinner, the only reason I’m going to be concerned about your grammar is if it garbles the message you’re sending so badly that I can’t receive it. Usually, that’s not the case; I can figure out what you mean.

Bottom line: I care about your message much more than your mechanics.

Proper grammar has its place, but the burden for proper grammar is on the one who sends the message. My job as a listener is to receive your message and seek to understand it, not find fault in its delivery.

Someone once told me, “Over-attention to other people’s grammar is the mark of a small mind.” I wholeheartedly agree with that. The truth is, I don’t quite like the way he structured that sentence. My brain struggles with the awkward subject clause. But I am not small-minded, so I didn’t pay attention to his sentence structure. Instead, I received his message. And I have never forgotten it.

11 thoughts on “Why I Really Don’t Care About Your Grammar

  1. Oh my gosh!!! So happy to read you saying that (lol). My blog has the worst grammar in the world!!! I’m a terrible writer but (I think) a good storyteller so I do it anyways!!! I love telling stories and making people laugh, I just don’t do it in a proper way! Thanks for writing thins! I feel like I have permission to be a hotmess as long as I’m getting my point across!!!

    • Okay, here’s the thing: when you write a blog, you’re SENDING the message. That means it’s your responsibility to set it up so your readers can receive it. If your grammar is so bad that people can’t understand you, you gotta get a proofreader! (I don’t know that it is; I’m not looking at your blog as I write.) Don’t be such a hot mess that your readers can’t receive your awesome stories! On the other hand, don’t be so scared of making a mistake that you won’t tell your stories.

  2. I like this a lot. Not being uptight about grammar is a great way to lose friends and alienate people. On the other hand, I was so tempted to just misspell everything in this comment to troll you, but decided against it. Nobody wants to see that! (Even if it is fun to see how many typos you can fit into a sentence or two!)

    • Bring it, Dave!! I’m sure you would come up with hilarious misspellings, but I wouldn’t believe for a moment that you were actually unable to spell. You Funny Names guys are brilliant.

      • Thanks! Their are a lot of weighs I could of misspelt things, but your very kind for insisting that were smart. It’s definately true 😛

      • I love that one. Don’t even have to click. She is BRILLIANT. I bought three copies of her book when it came out. I love the one where she tries to mercy-kill the fish. And the one about dogs and moving. And her posts about depression are so very accurate, but still manage to be funny. She is a genius.

      • She is! I honestly haven’t explored her blog all that much, but I think I’m going to do so now… instead of doing important things. Oh, the blogosphere!

      • Also, I think it may be a good thing that I have a visceral reaction to misspelling things like that! It makes me very uncomfortable!

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