The Importance of Using Proper Grammar

The Importance of Using Proper Grammar


This week we see the importance in using correct grammar in Everyday Writer by Andrea Lunsford. Lunsford helps us see the value of grammar and how it brings life to our writing. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, on the other hand, tells us why the author keeps index cards throughout her home, as well as one in her back pocket and why we should try it too. Both of these readings gave me ideas on ways to develop my writing, such as improving my grammar and working with index cards.

Up until the last few years using correct grammar wasn’t something I worried too much about. In fact, it wasn’t until I started talking to a really smart, attractive girl that I even realized how bad my writing skills were as a whole. The more we would text, the more I tried to remember; “you’re not your” or “their not there” and a whole bunch of other ignorant mistakes. Still, that was the only time I cared about my grammar until last semester. At that time I started a new job as a student at VC. Suddenly I was fully submerged in school life and using proper grammar was absolutely vital to maintaining the 4.0 GPA needed to get directly into nursing school. I really like the way Lunsford shows us how vital correct grammar is here:

Commas often play a crucial role in meaning. See how important the commas in the following direction for making hot cereal: Add Cream of Wheat slowly, stirring constantly. That sentence tells the cook to add the cereal slowly. If the comma came before the word slowly, however the cook might add all of the cereal at once and stir slowly. Using commas correctly can help you communicate more effectively (Lunsford 400).

We can see that something so small, like a comma, can bring drastic changes to your writing, giving it a voice, and essentially bring it to life for your reader. As a writer, every day I am working to improve my grammar and thus improve my writing. Grammar is something that will be very important for me as a nurse. I will be writing things down on every patient’s chart and if the doctor or another nurse doesn’t understand what I said or am trying to convey, I wont make a professional impression. Even if I change my career, good grammar is something I will take with me. In a world where people communicate through text and use text lingo, it is very easy to forget about the grammar lessons we learned in elementary school.

​Lamott likes to carry a note card around with her. As I read this I laughed because it seemed silly, but then I thought about times I’ve been at the store or taking Mercury for a walk and had an idea for my paper. By the time I got home, got settled, and returned to finish my paper, I found that I’d completely forgotten what I was trying to remember. I also remembered that one of my old bosses did this. He would keep his pocket sized spiral notebook in his back pocket during the day and on his nightstand at night. If he was walking down the street or woke up from a dream and was hit with inspiration, he would jot it down, so he could reflect on it later. Multiple times he told me that some of his best ideas came to him at the most random times and had it not been for his small notebook his ideas would be lost in the chaos of running your own business. His idea is the same as Lamott’s here; I fold a index card lengthwise in half, stick it in my back pocket along with a pen, and head out, knowing that if I have an idea, or see something lovely or strange or worth remembering, I will be able to jot down a couple of words to remind me of it (Lamott 134).

This is a good idea for me. Most of my writing is done in shifts. Not because this is how I choose to do it, but because I have other things that need my attention during the day. If I use this strategy, when I’m out for a walk with Merc or browsing the aisles of Trader Joe’s and a great conclusion idea hits me, I’ll have my index card and I can jot it down.

​This week we were taught two very different yet important lessons. First, Lunsford teaches us that proper grammar can be the difference between your paper having a voice, being alive and captivating your reader, or just being words scribbled on a page. Second, Lamott teaches us that inspiration can hit at anytime. She makes sure to be ready when it does hit by keeping index cards throughout her home, car, purse and pocket. These two lessons are something we should strive to apply in all of our writing. Good grammar and writing skills should not be something we just pretend when talking to a smart, attractive girl, even if you end up marrying her later.

Work cited:
Lunsford, Andrea A., and Franklin E. Horowitz. “Punctuation and Mechanics.” The Everyday Writer. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2004. 400-453. Print.

Lamott, Anne. “Index Cards, Calling Around, Writing Groups.” Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor, 1995. 131-161. Print.

Vocabulary words:
linguistics – the science of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology,syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and historical linguistics.

Marijuana – the dried leaves and female flowers of the hemp plant, used in cigarette form as a narcotic or hallucinogen.

Discussion questions:
Why is proper grammar vital in good writing?
As silly as it looks, how can keeping an index card on us help us in all aspects of our lives, not just writing?

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