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Essential writing skills: grammar – the writer’s playground

October 28, 2014

Getting grammar right is not easy. Someone always has a different viewpoint. A new reader for my manuscript told me I needed the word “would”. I had left it out because it was a person talking. Yes, it would have been correct to use, but all of us do not speak perfect English. I left it out and sent her an explanation. She’s had terrific input and I’d hate to lose her as a reader.

Matthew Wright

It was Winston Churchill, I believe, who once insisted that ending a sentence with a preposition was something up with which he would not put.

Wright_Typewriter2As any of us who have dragged through High School English know, grammar is often touted as the basic building block of writing. Which, in many ways, it is; you can’t write things that scan properly without it. It’s there for a reason.

The onus is on authors to get it right, though that doesn’t mean losing perspective. Grammar is a tool, not an end-goal. The so-called ‘grammar Nazis’ who nit-pick authors for any technical glitch that they can attribute to the writing don’t achieve much other than showing themselves up as small-minded.

It happens though. Some years ago a book reviewer – not someone writing the reader commentaries one gets on Amazon, but a journalist commissioned to prepare a discursive article about one of my…

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