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Unfortunately, we see many misguided essays here at ProofreadingPal on a daily basis. And one of the fundamental suggestions we always offer to those clients is to “be yourself when you write.” read more »
There are some rules of English grammar that are, and probably will remain, nearly absolute. But that does not mean all grammar rules are immutable. After all, while gravity is the law, much of grammar is only a suggestion. So how do you know when to obey the gods of grammar and when not to? The applicable law is complex in its simplicity. Here it is: If it works, it’s right. If it doesn’t, it’s wrong. read more »
I admit it. I used to teach grammar. But it wasn’t my fault. I was merely a product of my upbringing. I had been taught that grammar rules. As a student in what was then called junior high, I had excelled at diagramming sentences. I never dangled participles. Moreover, I created conventional transitions with such gracious terms as “However” and “Nonetheless.” I could spot a gerund with my eyes closed. When I advanced to high school, I never sought to foolishly split infinitives. I never used a preposition to end a sentence with. I never used the first person. I didn’t use contractions. And I never started a sentence with a conjunction. I fervently sought to compose fully developed paragraphs, each containing a clearly identifiable thesis statement and at least three supporting points. Sentence fragments? Never. Structure was everything. Those imposters, style and voice, were the enemy. Intellectual, academic, “proper” writing required nothing less than full submission to pedantic tradition and the gods of grammar. And so it was that, as a young student, I dutifully read Strunk and White’s venerated tome, The Elements of Style. But I never liked it. Originally written and self-published in 1919 by Cornell University English professor William Strunk Jr., the 43-page opus was edited and revised into an 85-page work by Strunk’s former student, E.B. White, in 1959. By then White was a revered author, essayist, and editor. In his updated 1971 introduction, White calls Strunk’s original work “an attempt to cut the vast tangle of English rhetoric down to size and write its rules and principles on the head of a pin.” White admired that effort, but he did not find it infallible. He explained that his revised edition deleted “errors and bewhiskered entries.” White wrote that his revised edition was “a thorough overhaul” of Strunk’s original. read more »