It doesn’t take repeated run-ins with the grammar police to make people hate grammar. It seems more like an inevitability. An innate disgust. “We all hate port-a-potties, nails on a chalkboard, and grammar.”
But if it’s not a unanimous, inborn hatred, then why do people hate grammar? I’ve consolidated the five most common explanations for your joyful commiseration.
5 Reasons People Hate Grammar
- Grammar is confusing. There are a million complicated rules. In the ungrammatical but apt words of a much-memed Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
- Grammar is boring. The only people who nerd out on grammar are just as insufferable as the grammar they proclaim to love (and they have to be lying, right?).
- Grammar is elitist. You know who created grammar? People in power. You want to know which people struggle with mainstream grammar and have been excluded from society, opportunities, respect, and countless other benefits of speaking “acceptably” and “correctly”? Marginalized people. Grammar is, in short, “the man.”
- Grammar is pointless. What’s the big deal, anyway? When you turn on the news, correct grammar pales in comparison to all the horrifying things happening—the stuff that does matter. You’ve “got 99 problems,” and grammar ain’t one of them.
- Grammar is poorly taught. If you’re like me, your primary/secondary grammar education could be summarized by a random smattering of the definitions for words such as “subject,” “verb,” “adjective,” and “predicate.” And even those you aren’t too sure about.
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Hate Grammar
There’s a flip side to almost every argument (except hatred of port-a-potties; they are inarguably revolting). In this case, consider the following five reasons grammar is less atrocious than you might have assumed:
- Grammar is more accessible than ever before. There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of free, online or print resources to help you understand and even master grammar. It’s hard to hate something when you understand it.
- Grammar is a necessary “evil.” It’s crucial, despite your annoyance over it—like cleaning the dirty dishes and brushing your teeth and getting the oil changed in your car. You may as well accept it and reduce your emotional angst.
- Grammar is a standard like any other standard. Mainstream grammar (versus dialectal) may have roots in power hierarchies, and it has definitely been used as an agent of bias, racism, and disenfranchisement, but the fact remains that we have to agree on some kinds of standards. That’s the definition of language—a standard of meaning. And it can be used to your great advantage.
- Grammar supports your core desires/needs. You want to be heard and to communicate effectively. You want a seat at tables of influence. A solid grasp of grammar will only help you achieve these things (this goes for businesses as well, not just individuals).
- Grammar opens you up to the world of languages. When you understand the building blocks of your mother language, you’ll be able to draw connections to other languages. In other words, once you comprehend the parts and correct grammar of one language, you’ll be able to comprehend and visualize the similarities and differences in others. It’s an exponentially rewarding skill with positive implications across many other fields of study.
Bodybuilder/actor/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger recently said, “Hate is the path of least resistance.” It feels safer to hate something than to admit that it scares us. It seems safer to hate something than to consider whether we’re wrong about it. It’s safer to hate something rather than to grow as people, to take responsibility for ourselves.
That’s not to say that if you get a better handle on grammar that you’re going to end up writing odes to its beautiful consistencies or whimsical irregularities. Maybe you still won’t even like it. But you could find yourself in a productive middle ground: tolerance. You’ll know when it’s wise to break the rules and when it’s appropriate or helpful to abide by them (which I’ve demonstrated in this post). So maybe “strategic tolerance” is more accurate.
When you strip grammar down to its purest form, it exists to help us understand one another. To give us all the means to express ourselves without impediment, with nuance and clarity. It’s a filter, a platform, and an amplifier for our voices.
And your voice deserves to be heard.
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