How important is a good understanding of English

Discussion in 'Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, etc' started by Alex Darion, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. MWagner

    MWagner Well-Known Member

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    On the first day of an English composition class at university, the professor had us each write a short essay so she could identify which of five common grammatical weaknesses each of us needed to work on. My essay was returned with 0/5, which meant I pretty much aced it. The funny part is that in the next class she presented a problem and asked us to identity which part of the sentence was out of place. When nobody raised their hand, she prompted me, presumably confident that I knew the answer and could help the class out. Nope. I didn't even know the difference between a verb and an adjective.

    I later learned to write much more deliberately, and in my job I routinely edit the work of my colleagues. Still, I'm not entirely clear on what exactly past participles and dangling modifiers are, though I'm confident I could recognise them as errors in a body of text.

    Which is why I have my doubts about encouraging kids and teens to read whatever they want, regardless of the quality of its prose. My kids are still under 10, so right now I'm okay with them reading anything age appropriate. However, as they get older I will encourage them to read higher-quality fiction, if only so they can internalise sound language construction.
     
  2. Hanz Carlisle Westwick

    Hanz Carlisle Westwick Work hard, Stay humble.

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    This is a harsh reality, by virtue of the fact that English is our global lingua franca today and as a matter of fact, it's the Language of the 21st Century! Putting this mindset into tactical terms, this means that you have got to integrate your practicing of English from multi-directional and multi-developmental angles into your everyday lifestyle. Seek every opportunity in your daily activities to practicing English. Like, reading an English story book regularly, or the daily English newspaper, in the case of news, expands your writing with your view of their implications, say politically, economically, technologically and/or social-demographically. This is my stance, drawn from my own learning experience.
     
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  3. Diranew

    Diranew New Member

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    Good understanding of English is important when writing. In my case English not my native language and I have difficulties with the grammar. I have just started writing and I'm still struggling with reviewing my work for grammar mistakes. Will definitely follow Hanz's suggestions.
     
  4. AshaWildling

    AshaWildling Member

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    As a writer, your primary aim is to communicate your story. Poor punctuation and misleading grammar are hindrances to achieving that goal. At best they are distractions, at worst they make your work unreadable. In general, native English speakers pick up the grammar that is necessary in order to communicate their meaning without having to know the correct terms. However, a deeper understanding of grammar gives us greater flexibility when we want to create characters and show different points of view. By understanding the correct way, the formal way, of communicating, we can be more deliberate in the way we step away from it by using colloquialisms and more modern sentence structures. Fiction doesn't require us to follow every rule but it helps us to communicate better if we understand the rules and know why we are breaking them. I find that working as both an editor and a writer is hugely advantageous in this respect ;)
     
  5. CAKnight

    CAKnight New Member

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    I think this is a difficult one to answer. I'm a trained proofreader/editor and think that it's important to get grammar right otherwise the meaning of the words can be easily lost. A single comma in the wrong place can reverse the meaning of a sentence! However, that said, I think trying to be word-perfect is overkill as sometimes the rules are so varied and precise that you'd spend all your time researching grammar. Critiques and proofreads are the way to go, I'd say.
     
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  6. Steve Harrison

    Steve Harrison Member

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    This is why I'll never self-publish!

    I flunked English at school and still, many years later and despite having a novel traditionally published, grammar and grammatical terminology remain a mystery, although I instinctively know when something 'sounds' wrong. But even if this was not the case, I cannot overstate the necessity of a professional editor and proof reader.

    As my editor says, regardless of ability or knowledge, it's very hard for a writer to edit his own work, because he sees what he meant and not what he wrote.
     
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  7. Cathbad

    Cathbad Weird Guy with Ugly Gray Beard

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    That should be put on a meme... so I can distribute it!!

    :D
     
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