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Thread: Is writing all about grammar?

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  1. #1

    Is writing all about grammar?

    I have seen many native writers boasting over their 'native writer' status. In their ads and sales copies this is a prominent point they use to distinguish themselves from 'others'...but, is writing just about perfect grammar? What if someone has huge knowledge about his niche and shows passion while explaining intricate details? Then does it matters his grammar is flawed, even if you can understand him and learn immensely from reading his articles?

    I have seen some great writers who write about finance, with not so perfect grammar. Yet, they are quite popular.

    PS: I am not talking about those who write in completely broken English. I am talking about those writers who can communicate their points easily, even in imperfect English.
    Last edited by talk2tanveer; 3 October, 2009 at 05:53 AM. Reason: typo!

  2. #2
    According to me, a writer is judged on the basis of his grammatical skills.
    The worst case scenario is, your searching for help and you come across an article where all the info you need is mentioned, but if the grammar and language depicted in the article is broken/(screwed up or whatever), you just don't know whether to trust this guy.
    I browse the services section here at NB and DP everyday just looking at the threads and many a times i see someone mention 'I am a professional and experienced writer' on the first line, and then a 'I want you give me this job'(or any such grammatically malformed sentences) on the last.

  3. #3
    The English language is changing, it is the only major language in the world that has more second language speakers than native speakers. Obviously this will mean a lot more writers choosing to use English, after all the global market for writers is huge.

    In my experience a very significant number of native speakers may have a reasonable command of grammar, yet their writing style sucks, often not because of grammar, but instead due to laziness, contractions, misuse of commonly mistaken words, "your" instead of "you're", "their" instead of "there" etc.

    Often a non-native speaker won't make these mistakes, but their writing suffers from mistaken use of articles, misunderstanding of countable vs uncountable nouns and other errors that are quite noticeable.

    To answer the question, is writing all about grammar? No, I don't think so. I've read some very insightful articles from people whose grammar wasn't perfect, and at the same time I've read utter garbage by native speakers who only make the occasional mistake.

    I prefer to think that good writing is readable, made up of sentences that flow. Poor writing is choppy and broken, with every phrase put into it's own sentence.

    Ultimately, grammar is important, but I don't think it is everything. Instead I think the ability to communicate is more important. Of course with everything, there are always going to be exceptions, a leading newspaper would never publish an article that wasn't grammatically correct and written well, whereas an AdSense blogger probably doesn't care too much if the article is keyword rich.

  4. #4
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    Grammar is important to convey information properly and in a non-annoying way, but isn't everything.

    Think of it as the foundation of the building that is writing. If the foundation isn't strong, the whole building will collapse sooner or later, and be worthless.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by elbandelero View Post
    The English language is changing, it is the only major language in the world that has more second language speakers than native speakers. Obviously this will mean a lot more writers choosing to use English, after all the global market for writers is huge.

    In my experience a very significant number of native speakers may have a reasonable command of grammar, yet their writing style sucks, often not because of grammar, but instead due to laziness, contractions, misuse of commonly mistaken words, "your" instead of "you're", "their" instead of "there" etc.

    Often a non-native speaker won't make these mistakes, but their writing suffers from mistaken use of articles, misunderstanding of countable vs uncountable nouns and other errors that are quite noticeable.

    To answer the question, is writing all about grammar? No, I don't think so. I've read some very insightful articles from people whose grammar wasn't perfect, and at the same time I've read utter garbage by native speakers who only make the occasional mistake.

    I prefer to think that good writing is readable, made up of sentences that flow. Poor writing is choppy and broken, with every phrase put into it's own sentence.

    Ultimately, grammar is important, but I don't think it is everything. Instead I think the ability to communicate is more important. Of course with everything, there are always going to be exceptions, a leading newspaper would never publish an article that wasn't grammatically correct and written well, whereas an AdSense blogger probably doesn't care too much if the article is keyword rich.
    I've said it before, I'll say it again: grammar is a foundation. Communication and message is important, but people have to be able to read it. It's just like HTML, CSS, PHP, or whatever coding language you prefer. They are skillsets that let you do what you want the way you want to.

    For non-native speakers, this sentence has no difference:

    "Can I borrow a car?" versus "Can I borrow the car?" versus "Can I borrow car?"

    However, one is talking about one car out of what could be hundreds, and another is talking about that specific car. Given the circumstances, specific versus general could be important. Just as creating a link with a specific URL or a Relative URL could be extremely important depending where you are on a site.

    Is writing all about grammar? No. But I think it is essential to good communication. I often get clients whom I simply cannot understand. That's to say nothing of them, they are all very nice people, I just can't understand them. Writing is about communication, and to communicate effectively on a minimum level, you have to know the language.

    To communicate on a large level, you have to know the language well. I'm not a complete stickler...I'll forgive a punctuation error or two and some awkward sentences, but without a good foundation, you cannot build a memorable style.

  6. It is important but according to regions English also keep changing little bit . I think I am not perfect but I can right that much which can be understood by anyone .

  7. writing something should be intended to people to know something, meaningful and fun


  8. Writing is all about conveying meaning. Unfortunately, poor grammar can make it very difficult to convey the intended message to the recipient.

    Reading a well written document is like walking down a country lane on a beautiful spring day; reading a poorly written document is like hacking your way though the jungle with a machete.

    Be kind to your readers.
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  9. #9
    I'm always Johnny-come-lately to great threads like this (great in my opinion because of the relevance to what many of us do for a living), but my personal thoughts on the topic are that writing is about the intended reader(s).

    What I mean is if you're creating an article for your site about hip-hop culture, then the use of some slang terms might be perfectly acceptable, because your intended readers will digest them without batting an eye.

    On the other hand, if you're writing a White Paper on a highly intricate tech system to be published on an academic site, then the use of slang terms would interrupt your readers and detract from the message you're trying to convey to them.

    The same is true with regards to web-speak and non-native English writing with broken grammar in content as it is with slang terms. If your intended readers can consume the material without being 'put off' by the broken grammar or emoticons, then it's okay to use.

    But, if your intended readers might expect well written content, or are seeking a voice of authority on a topic, then broken grammar or web-speak will do you more harm than good.

    So, just like deciding what content to create based on your intended audience, you can also decide on how proper that content must be based on your intended readers too.
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  10. #10
    I've read some very insightful articles from people whose grammar wasn't perfect, and at the same time I've read utter garbage by native speakers who only make the occasional mistake.
    Agreed. Very often something can be very well written and interesting to read despite incorrect grammar.

    I came across this curious story and it's a good example. It's not written as an English person would write it, and there are occasional 'errors' of grammar but phrases like 'The sufferings of all those years had boiled their hearts with anger' are beautifully written and more communicative than most native-English writers would be.

    10/10 to the author for writing from the heart instead of the textbook.

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