Is Grammar Necessary?

Is grammar necessary? My answer might surprise you: No, it isn’t – not if you mean identifying parts of speech and diagramming sentences.

People who adore formal grammar often say that correct grammar is essential if you want to get a precise message across. I say that’s rarely true. Suppose you heard someone say, “John don’t like that restaurant.” The grammar is wrong, but you would understand perfectly.

Here’s a joking message sent to me by my friend Margaret Wheaton. Numerals have been substituted for many of the letters – and yet most people can read the message easily:

Standard English is a beautiful thing. It showcases your communication skills and professionalism. But don’t confuse good writing with grammar gobbledygook. They’re not the same thing.

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