Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Grammar Police

On my day job I write two monthly newsletters--one for employees and one for managers. The management one is a tool I use to educate managers/supervisors and (hopefully) get them thinking and help them be better managers. The employee one is meant to educate and, yes, get employees thinking so they can (hopefully) be better employees.

There's one person that I *know* reads both newsletters (it's iffy for everyone else, all 84 of them) because he comments consistently about *how* the newsletters are written. Not the content, but the grammar. "Can you start a sentence with 'and'?" he asks, and the tone is clear that he's not asking because he wants an answer to the question but, rather, he's pointing out that I've done something he thinks is incorrect. (And my answer to him was an emphatic "yes". It's my damn newsletter, I can write it however I want to. And since I'm the editor as well, it can stay written the way I've written it. And I started three sentences with 'and' on purpose, thank you very much!)

For me, writing a newsletter or a novel is better when the language is natural--if you can read a paragraph (or a page) and it feels like you're listening in on a conversation. So, yes, in my fiction writing I occasionally have sentences that end with a preposition, because that's the way people talk. (It depends on the character. If I have a character who's more formal and I want to get that across, their speech will generally be grammatically correct.)

So, what do you think? Have you ever read a book where the grammar "mistakes" (or maybe the grammar correctness) were enough to throw you out of the story?

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