The Importance and History of Grammar

December 3, 2019

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

      Grammar can mean serious business. It helps us get the correct meaning when we speak and write. We also have certain ideas about the tone of a piece when we look at its grammar. If someone is using a lot of contractions in a piece of writing, it’s seen as more casual. Correct grammar also unconsciously gives us ideas of the person we’re talking to, and grammar skills can even have an effect on their dating and professional lives.

 

      There is certainly a benefit in using correct grammar. For instance, a recent survey from dating app TrueView stated that better grammar gives you better odds of getting a date. In fact, conversations that start with full, grammatically correct sentences are 68% more likely to end in a date than a grammatically incorrect sentence (Evening Standard). On a similar vein, you are also 66% less likely to even get a reply if you use explicit language in the first message. Good grammar can also affect your career. In an informal study of 100 Linkdin profiles, professionals who had fewer grammatical mistakes were more likely to get promoted (It should be noted, however, that Grammarly conducted this study, so its results may be taken with a grain of salt) (Forbes). Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a tool company, stated that he refuses to hire anyone with poor grammar.

 

      Notably, there are grammar societies devoted to maintaining English grammar style. For instance, the Queen’s English Society is a charity based in the United Kingdom that aims to “educate the public in, and to promote the maintenance, knowledge, understanding, development and appreciation of the English language as used both colloquially and in literature.” In other recent news, the Apostrophe Protection Society, founded in 2001 by John Richards, will be shutting down (Evening Standard). Part of the reason was due to the founder’s age and wanting to cut back on commitments, and the other is that, according to him, fewer organizations are caring about the correct use of the English language. 

 

     As we try to create rules and standards regarding the English language, the irony is that grammar has been changing and shifting for centuries. According to Chritopher Mulvey, professor at the University of Winchester, English grammar has had about 4 major shifts, the first two due to Norse or Norman-French invaders. The third shift was due to academia, and the most recent shift has been due to the internet and globalization. Old English barely looks like the English we use now. For instance, old English nouns had four cases and three genders, and Modern English uses three cases and got rid of noun gender altogether. In the 1700s, academics began to make grammar standards official, and since the 1800s, there has not been all that many changes to English grammar. It may still be too early to tell how, but the internet has been changing English. With an abundance of people using informal language all over the internet like in tweets, blogs, and chats, there will likely be an effect on how we use English outside of the internet. Normally such informal language was only used for personal letters, but now it’s out all over the world. 

 

     Grammar is an interesting animal. We have a general idea of its importance, which is apparent in the effects grammar has on dating and professional life. There are even whole organizations dedicated to upholding the English language standard. However, English grammar is subject to change, and with the rise of the internet, we are likely to see another shift in the English language (and it wouldn’t be the first time in history for the language to change). It goes to show that just as we change our minds regarding different issues, we also even change the way we write and speak over time.

 

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