The Digital Reader had a piece on their website entitled: “Infographic: 15 Grammar Rules You Learned in School That You Can Break With Impunity”
I’ve picked out some of the more interesting ones below.
- Never end a sentence with a preposition: This one is from the ark and is probably the most broken rule because of how formal sentences become when the rule is followed. For example: “From where do you come?”
- Know the difference between who and whom: Who refers to the subject of the sentence and whom refers to the object. In colloquial speech, it is common, but incorrect to ask; “Who did you invite?”
- Never describe a singular noun with a plural pronoun: An exception could be, “Somebody left their hat on the train” – when the gender of the somebody is unknown.
- Use the correct verbal agreement for a collective noun: Collective nouns describe groups of things acting as a single identity: swarms of bees; teams of people – “The team is going out to lunch”. “None of us is invited to the wedding.” Right but sounds wrong.
- Do not split infinitives: Infinitives are verbs in their most basic form, usually preceded by to. But the following is OK: “She tried to quickly think of an awesome sentence.”
- Avoid vague pronouns: For example: “When Jess picked up her baby sister, she was so happy.” Was it Jess or here sister who was made happy?
- Use That and Which correctly: That and Which are both relative pronouns that introduce clauses; the difference being That introduces a non-specific clause, and Which introduces a specific clause. A specific clause specifies the identity of the noun to which it refers; a non-specific clause only provides more information.
- Use the correct personal pronoun: Me, myself and I all describe oneself but cannot be used interchangeably. I is the subject of the sentence; me is the object. Myself is a reflexive pronoun when the subject and the object are the same. Example: “Sue smiled at herself in the mirror.”
- Use Farther for physical distance and Further for figurative distance: Example: “We had run farther today to catch up with out teammates who were further along in the training schedule.”
- Use Fewer and Less correctly: Fewer is an adjective used to quantify nouns that can be counted; whereas Less is an adjective used to quantify intangible nouns that can’t be counted. Example@ “Fewer coins, but less money.”
- Into is directional, In To is a verb phrase: Example: “Breaking into the museum” should be written as “Breaking in to the museum.”
And three rules that should never be broken:
- Apostrophes: Apostrophes show possession and contractions and that’s all!
- Affect vs Effect: Affect is a verb; Effect is a noun.
- Don’t make us new words, unless your name is Shakespeare. Some linguists believe that English has up to 300,000 distinctly usable words.