Grammar for readers

Grammar for readers

John McIntyre on some simple guidelines for celebrating National Grammar Day, today, with dignity:

To go beyond simple grammar and usage, if you want to write with integrity and earn the loyalty of your readers, you cannot simply repeat statements of fact that you have made no attempt to verify — however well they match your personal preferences. You cannot crib from other writers without giving them credit. You cannot make things up. You cannot afford to bore your readers with slack, unfocused, careless writing. You are imposing on your reader’s time; do not waste it.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing the late Joseph Williams, venerable author of Style:

Style is about reading more than it is about writing. I started out with the assumption that clarity didn’t inhere in the text — it was in the response of the reader. … If you can get that framing … clear and concrete in the mind of the reader, than the reader will do a lot of the work.

This celebration of grammar — nationally, locally, or in your email client — should start with the reader. Period. (Or perhaps exclamation mark.) Either way, mind the readers, and celebrate grammar in support of them.