What to do with old obsolete grammar rules?

Do we throw them out?

Or do we realize some rules are made to be broken?

 Hooray! At last, a common sense post about what to do about hard and fast rules that make no sense in this day and time.

6 Old Grammar Rules That Are Finally Going Out of Style by 

Here is my take on her 6 rules:
  1. Ending sentences with a preposition.
    • Guilty, but I didn’t know this rule was attributed to Winston Churchill
  2. Starting sentences with a conjunction.
    • Oh yes, guilty. This gem was apparently courtesy of teachers in the 19th century.
  3. Sentence fragments.
    • Now honestly, I write like I talk. And well…
  4. Split infinities.
    • This one drives me nuts. But what a relief, Kelly gives us permission to use as needed and explains why.
  5. Who vs Whom
    • I love her suggestions. Just avoid if unsure. But realize the word “whom” is for formal writing.
  6. Pronouns.
    • What about “they?” Turns out it’s not one but what else is a writer to use?

Click the link above to read more about Kelly’s thoughts on these obsolete grammar rules.


Do you agree, some rules are made to be broken?

Is there another grammar rule that drives you nuts?

Are you guilty of breaking these six?

Do you have any tips to help writers with grammar rules?

Please share, let’s become better writers together. 

Also, if you can please stop by my other locations and say “hey!” I’ll leave a light on. 

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28 thoughts on “What to do with old obsolete grammar rules?

  1. I am part of the Grammar Police. However, I do agree that there are specific instances when rules can be broken. For example, if you’re writing a conversation between characters it makes sense to end sentences with prepositions because most people do in regular speech. If you gave all of your characters perfect grammar they would come across as freaks. (Is that a crack on myself?) :-/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fiction and nonfiction really call for different rules, or at least differing emphasis. As another commenter said, dialogue has to sound the way real people talk. Expository writing is all about clarity. A big part of learning how to write is when to apply what rules. And when it’s OK to ignore rules altogether.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just because teachers are too freaking lazy to teach them and publishers and editors don’t seem to gie a sh*t is not a reason to throw them out. Rules are designed for clarity. It honestly makes me almost vomit when I read book after book and article after article beautifully written except for so f’ing many sentences beginning with a conjunction. It is completely inexcusable to begin a sentence with a conjunction. PERIOD!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The “rule” that annoys me the most lately (ask me again tomorrow, and I may have a different answer) is “Do not use contractions.” Although this is a good guideline for formal/academic writing (I proofread all my twin’s scientific papers, so I’m quite familiar with those rules of writing), it’s NOT a good guideline for, say, fiction, especially characters’ dialogue.

    I thought the quote from Churchill was him making fun of the “Never end with a preposition” rule because it can result in some really awkward sentences: “There are some things up with which I will not put.” If all he’d wanted to do was avoid ending with either “up” or “with,” he could have said, “I will not put up with some things,” right?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s often worse than that; sometimes they tell writers “Never use adverbs, even ones that don’t end in -ly.” The thing is, never IS an adverb (as is ANY word used to modify a verb, even if it’s grammatically incorrect, such as “walked fast” instead of “walked quickly,” in an attempt to avoid those “forbidden” adverbs), so they’re already breaking their own “rule.” 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi, Jean,

    This is always a fun issue to discuss (fight?) over. I’ve posted some pretty specific arguments in favor of treating these exact rules (and others, like the choice between “that” and “which” or the use of “hopefully,” as judgment calls depending on the context in which they’re used. And I always get a little mischievous when someone throws Strunk & White at me: “Strunk & White say you can’t do that!” Of course you can. And often, whether you should or not is a judgment call. Here’s a link to a wonderful article on exactly this topic, published many years ago in a journal for writing teachers: The Phenomenology of Error by Joseph Williams: http://www.stthomasu.ca/~hunt/williams.htm. And here’s one of my takes: https://justcanthelpwriting.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/how-much-grammar-do-you-need-part-ii/
    What fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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