I love Stephen Fry. He’s another one of my idols, as a writer, too, not just for all the other stuff he’s done and is doing.
Here he’s dismantling sticklers for grammar and am I ever so glad he is doing so. I admit I’m a stickler for spelling. I prefer complete sentences over text speak, which I consider mostly laziness.
But grammar can be a great tool for a writer and free flow can make things so much more interesting. And if you love language, you will push it to its limits and experiment instead of putting it into a box and letting it rot there.
That, my friends, is the true abomination. Those who champion grammar above all don’t love language, they love rules.
A good friend of mine, who is a professional photographer, has been taught and then taught me the following: learn all the rules and then break them.
Know the difference between less and fewer, be sure to use there and their where each needs to be used, put a comma where you feel a break is required and don’t dismiss the semi-colon; it, too, serves a purpose.
If you love language, you’ll learn the rules, know them well and then break them and have a play and see if people can still follow you.
Sticking to the correct grammar, whatever that means, doesn’t make you a great writer. Knowing how to manipulate it to serve a specific purpose just might, however.
My life doesn’t hang on the use of a comma in an expected or unexpected place. Neither should yours. And if it does, well, I recommend you find a better hobby, because you’re boring as hell.
I love, love, love the written word. Spoken words can be just as wonderful and the best examples I know completely disregard established structures, which makes them all the more powerful.
We should be ruling words and grammar, not be ruled by them, especially not by grammar.
If the video doesn’t make you nod your head, move on along, unfollow me please, we have nothing in common.