I’ve had a few conversations over the past couple of weeks regarding the use of serial commas and other little grammar tics. It was helpful for me to read Jonathan Crossfield’s blog post talking about the fact that writing is about CLARITY not about grammar. The internet and blogs in particular have really changed this for most of us. For example, I believe a brochure that still uses serial commas in its copy a) looks messy and b) is old school. So sue me.
Today, for example, I was corrected in the use of the word “their” instead of “him or her.” Patients may see THEIR doctors. However, a patient may only see HIS or HER doctor. I wrote that “our patients see their doctors.” The designer rewrote as “EAch patient sees his or her doctor…” okay, different style but not better grammar.
Seriously, does it really matter? If a piece is written well, flows well and there are no misspelled words and egregious phrases (for all intensive purposes, for example) do you think someone will notice? And if they do, how many of them will actually know the real correct grammar? Although I suppose I’m going to have to care soon, as I’ll be teaching as an adjunct professor at the J-school at WVU. (or is it FOR the J-school?)
Grammar can assist with making sentences and copy more clear. It can also be an added distraction (again, the serial commas). If the English language and its accepted construction didn’t change over the years, we’d still be visiting Ye Olde Facebook.
Here are some great blogs/sites if you’re into this stuff!