Ugh… not Grammar!
Who here likes grammar? Who here thinks they know grammar? Understand it? Rarely make mistakes?
Yeah… I didn’t think so.
For most people, unless you have meticulously studied English grammar for years, it’s most likely that you don’t know it or only know some of it. In all likelihood, you make mistakes. Most people have problems with comma placement, subject-verb agreement, apostrophe mishaps, and the bane of my existence both as a writer and editor, run-on sentences.
We all know that we have these problems. We all know that we make these mistakes. The big question is, what do you do about it?
Well, there are two things you can do:
- Don’t bother about it because you know your editor is going to fix your mistakes.
- Figure where you need help and study that particular rule, so you don’t make that mistake anymore.
In my opinion, you should do both.
First, know where you need to improve. I know that I have a tendency to write run-on sentences. I know I don’t always put in a comma where I should and sometimes put one in where I shouldn’t. To combat both of these things, I’ve studied these two aspects of grammar. Does that mean that I always get them right now? Nope! But I’m doing a lot better than I used to!
I, therefore, rely on my editor to fix my mistakes. She’s got an amazing knowledge of grammar and does a fantastic job of finding and correcting most of my mistakes (yes, some even get by her—it happens).
The important thing is to know where you need to improve and do something about it. There are some fantastic books on grammar that aren’t even that tedious to read.
Punctuation Without Tears by Dominic Selwood and Delia Johnson
And my favorite, Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
Of course, there are programs out there that you can use to fix your grammar without you having to learning anything—Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid are both highly respected ways to do that. The thing is, do you really want to live in ignorance? And if you answered ‘yes’, that’s all right, I suppose. Everyone has their priorities. But if you want to consider yourself a professional author, a professional writer, you are going to have to take some responsibility and learn grammar. It is just straight-up professionalism.
Just like learning writing craft, learning grammar—while painful and unpleasant—is essential to becoming a professional writer.
So, on behalf of all editors out there, I beg you… take some time to study where to put a comma. Delve deep into what a run-on sentence is and do your best to avoid writing them. Understand that English is weird and the way we speak and the way we write aren’t always the same. So, while no one is going to call you out for mixing up your subject and verb agreement while speaking, it’s really going to annoy readers if you do so in your writing.
One last note on this topic before I don’t bug you about it again for a very long time (promise!), here are two good websites that tell you about the most common grammar mistakes and how to fix them. If nothing else, take a look at these and try to take in and understand what you might be doing wrong.