Grammar Taboos: 10 Rules You Can Break (and Why You Should)

Grammar rules are often seen as strict and unyielding, leaving writers feeling constrained and limited in their expression. However, there are certain grammar taboos that can be broken without sacrificing clarity or meaning. In fact, breaking these rules can add a touch of creativity and style to your writing. In this blog post, we will explore 10 grammar rules that you can break and why doing so can enhance your writing.

Dangling Prepositions: Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

One of the most well-known grammar taboos is ending a sentence with a preposition. However, this rule is more of a myth than a hard-and-fast rule. Ending a sentence with a preposition can actually make your writing more conversational and natural. For example, instead of saying, "From where did you come?" you can say, "Where did you come from?" The latter sentence flows more smoothly and is easier to understand.

Split Infinitives: Separating the "To" from the Verb

Another grammar taboo that can be broken is the rule against split infinitives. Splitting an infinitive involves placing an adverb between the word "to" and the verb. While traditional grammar rules frown upon this, it is perfectly acceptable in modern writing. Consider the famous example, "To boldly go where no man has gone before." Splitting the infinitive here emphasizes the adverb "boldly" and adds emphasis to the action of going.

Sentence Fragments: Breaking the Rules for Impact

Sentence fragments are often considered a grammatical error, but they can be used intentionally to create impact and convey a specific tone. By breaking the rule of complete sentences, you can add emphasis, create a sense of urgency, or mimic natural speech patterns. For instance, "Silence. Darkness. Fear." These sentence fragments create a sense of suspense and tension, drawing the reader into the narrative.

Starting Sentences with Conjunctions: Adding Emphasis and Flow

Traditionally, starting sentences with conjunctions like "and" or "but" was discouraged. However, this rule can be broken to add emphasis and flow to your writing. Starting a sentence with a conjunction can create a sense of continuation and connection between ideas. For example, "But the truth is, we all make mistakes." This technique can add a conversational tone and make your writing more engaging.

Overusing Commas: Embracing the Comma Splice

Comma splices occur when two independent clauses are joined with just a comma, without a coordinating conjunction. While this is generally considered a grammar mistake, it can be used effectively for stylistic purposes. Comma splices can create a sense of urgency or fast-paced narration. For instance, "He ran, she followed." This technique can help convey a sense of action and keep the reader engaged.

Sentence Structure: Varying Lengths for Interest

A common rule of grammar is to maintain consistent sentence structure throughout your writing. However, varying sentence lengths can make your writing more interesting and engaging. Mixing short and long sentences can create a rhythm, emphasize certain ideas, and prevent monotony. By breaking the rule of uniformity, you can add a dynamic quality to your writing and keep your readers hooked.

Subject-Verb Agreement: Embracing Singular "They"

The rule of subject-verb agreement states that a singular subject should have a singular verb, and a plural subject should have a plural verb. However, the use of singular "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun has gained acceptance in modern writing. By breaking the traditional rule, you can be more inclusive and respectful of individuals who do not identify within the binary gender system.

Double Negatives: Emphasizing Contradiction

Double negatives, when two negatives are used in the same clause, are typically considered grammatically incorrect. However, they can be used rhetorically to emphasize contradiction or to convey a specific tone. For example, "I can't get no satisfaction." This double negative intensifies the speaker's dissatisfaction and adds emphasis to the sentiment being expressed. In certain contexts, breaking this rule can enhance the impact of your writing.

Sentence Ending Prepositions: Adding Emphasis and Clarity

Similar to ending a sentence with a preposition, sentence ending prepositions can be used to add emphasis and clarity to your writing. While it may go against traditional grammar rules, using a preposition to end a sentence can make the meaning more clear and eliminate awkward phrasing. For instance, instead of saying, "Which school did you go to?" you can say, "Which school did you go to?" This slight alteration improves the flow and readability of the sentence.

Grammar rules are important for maintaining clarity and coherence in our writing. However, there are certain grammar taboos that can be broken without sacrificing these essential qualities. By breaking these rules, writers can add creativity, style, and emphasis to their work. So, the next time you find yourself hesitating to break a grammar taboo, remember that sometimes bending the rules can lead to more engaging and impactful writing. Embrace the freedom to break these 10 grammar rules and unleash the full potential of your writing.