Grammar Rules You Can Break Without the Guilt


Without any real evidence, other than anecdotal, to back this up; many linguists argue that English is the hardest language in the world to master. With a seemingly endless list of grammar rules to follow and spelling rules to sometimes follow, sometimes ignore; the English language is a packed minefield just waiting for you to misstep.

If you’re struggling to remember secondary school English classes when producing content for your website or marketing materials — creating new, engaging copy can seem like a nightmare job. But don’t worry, there is more to good copy than grammatical accuracy — sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to throw the rulebook out the window and claim creative license.

Although our fastidious content team are always combing for any grammar mistakes, and love a well-crafted piece of copy – there is a time and place for a little rule breaking. Here we look at some of the rules you can choose to ignore, if it means cracking out a great piece of content.

Kicking off with conjunctions

The vast majority of primary school students are taught that it is grammatically incorrect to start a sentence with a conjunction (and, but, or, so, also, etc.). But (see what I did there?) this is not necessarily the case. Students are only taught this rule to simplify the process of teaching them how to effectively break sentences with a conjunction. Now we’re adults, it’s perfectly acceptable to start a sentence with ‘and’. Along with voting, this is perhaps the greatest liberty afforded by adulthood.

And it can be a hugely effective technique in sales copy. If you have just thrown an exclamation mark in at the end of a sentence to demonstrate the significance of a statement, but still have more to add to the original point, a conjunction-headed sentence can help keep the message on point.

Ending with a Preposition

A favourite with grammar pedants the English-speaking world over, ending a sentence with a preposition (the word which relates the noun(s) to the rest of the clause) is an absolute no-go for many. However, sticking to this rule can lead to clumsy re-juggling of a sentence.

Simple sentences such as ‘Who did you go to school with?’ are turned into overly proper questions such as ‘With whom did you go to school?’ So, in terms of creating easy-to-read and effective copy, go with which sounds right in your head, and in your beautiful heart.

Creating a consistent and relevant tone of voice is much more important when creating effective copy than sticking to every tiny grammatical rule.

Absolute Adjectives with an Adverb of Degree

Strictly speaking, absolute adjectives (unique, perfect, best, worst, etc.) are not changed when an adverb of degree (more, less, quite, etc.) is added. Something which is perfect cannot be more or less perfect than something else which is perfect.

Got that? Well, forget it. If you’re creating marketing copy, chuck those adverbs in there for even greater content perfection.

The Oxford Comma

I’ll have to admit, I am a bit of a fan of the Oxford comma. Adding them to copy that clients or colleagues have asked me to proof makes me feel like a big man. But, I’m not going to judge you if you decide to omit them from your copy. In many cases, copy looks better if there are fewer punctuation marks supporting the text.

Whilst it can help avoid some horrible grammatical mix-ups, the Oxford comma doesn’t have to be strewn across your page of copy.

Constricting Contractions

Some grammar buffs will wince whenever their eyes stumble upon a contraction – upset that two words have been shortened with the help of an interfering apostrophe. But contractions such as won’t, don’t and shouldn’t can help make your writing look more personable than will not, do not, and should not.

Contraction use should be considered on a case-by-case basis – whether it is in-keeping with the tone and suited to the medium. Don’t be put off by the contraction snobs.

If you’re struggling with content marketing or any aspect of your web presence, the Banc team are on hand to help provide expert advice and assistance. For more information about how we could help improve your online performance, visit our homepage, here, or call us now on 0345 459 0558.

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Jonathan Tuplin