Why Grammar is Necessary for Clarity – Part 3 Pronouns

Part 3 in our Why Grammar is Necessary for Clarity series deals with pronouns. Injudicious use of pronouns can cause confusion, to say the least, in your writing.   Consider a recent news headline:   Boy saves pet dog from bear attack by stabbing it with a kitchen knife   While we might guess at what happened here, it could be that the boy stabbed his dog with the kitchen knife – mercy killing? Unlikely, perhaps, but it’s still not 100% clear who the pronoun ‘it’ refers to in this context.   Similarly:   Pam was meeting her friend Sara for a shopping afternoon. When they met she suggested they go for a coffee first as she wanted her to try out a new cafe that she had discovered the previous week.   Confused? I would be!   It’ ...

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Why Grammar is Necessary for Clarity – Part 2 The Comma

Following on from last week’s post, we look at how the humble comma can be essential for clarity. (Grammar, remember is all about clarity – avoiding confusion and misunderstandings.) Perhaps the most frequently quoted example of the difference a comma can make is: Let’s eat Grandma!               versus        Let’s eat, Grandma!   The simple comma turns children from cannibalistic monsters to just normal, hungry children!   What other purpose does the humble comma serve? It separates items in lists: On our trip we visited the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Death Valley and Disneyland.    It separates subordinate or dependent clauses: My daughter, who is 22, is getting married on Saturday.     This clause gives extra information, not necessary ...

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Why Grammar is Necessary for Clarity – Part 1 The Hyphen

Many believe that grammar is the sole, esoteric preserve of a small number of aficionados who delight in pointing out misplaced apostrophes or complaining that the supermarket express checkout refers to “less than 10 items” instead of “fewer than…”. These people may feel that worrying obsessively over grammar will stem their creativity – or perhaps that grammar is outdated in a 21st-century world of instant communications.     But grammar is not just about being pedantic; it’s about clarity. Incorrect grammar can make a basic statement ambiguous at best and almost impossible to comprehend at worst. We are featuring a series of blog posts over the next four weeks, dealing with different grammatical issues that affect clarity. First, the hy ...

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