Are You Breaking These Grammar Rules?

grammar rules

If you’ve ever wondered why you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition — which, admit it, you do all the time — well… this infographic from the good folks at The Expert Editor may not explain why you shouldn’t do it so much as give you a good excuse to throw caution to the wind and be a grammar rebel.

Seriously, some of these you’ll nod in agreement with and others may be on your “never break this rule!” list. As an editor, I, for one, get all itchy when someone uses “less” and not “fewer” in the proper context. I also get agitated when a writer uses an impersonal pronoun to describe a person (“it was Jimmy that was late”) or anthropomorphizes a company (“Verizon charged me extra just because they could”). But I digress, and these transgressions don’t even get covered in the infographic.

Still, I enjoyed looking this over and agreeing or disagreeing with the rationale behind the green light to break these grammar rules. And ultimately, isn’t language there to be twisted and abused? How many groundbreaking novels mangle the norms of the English language? I remember reading Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs so many years ago and marveling at how he basically retooled the way language works and was applauded for doing it. And is anyone going to tell George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling they shouldn’t make up their own words? Didn’t think so.

As they say, “you gotta know the rules before you break ’em.” I’m not even sure that’s true, but as writers, we’re better off making it a choice.

So which rules are you going to break today?

grammar rules

I can never pass up an opportunity like this to include this video of my favorite “Weird Al” Yankovic track, his send-up of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” called “Word Crimes.”

Book Publishing Plan guide


  1. Making up words is a creative activity and good fun so long as they’re not just showing off or incomprehensible. Purists would probably insist on the linguistic roots of the sections of the new word being from the same linguistic root, but we’ve got used to eg ‘petrol’ which links ‘petros’ (rock, Greek) with ‘oleum’ (oil, Latin) , so what the hell! Incidentally you’ve written ‘loosing’ where you mean ‘losing’ – maybe just a typo but also a very common error.
    Geoff Roberts

  2. Don’t make up new words? What. Like the Czech playwright who invented ‘robot’? Strewth. Or Gibson’s ‘necromancer’. Another autodidact too obsessed with grammar loosing sight of the contents of the written creation. Maybe if the author was familiar with other languages they would not make this pointless suggestion. In German for instance going hybrid is quite au fait. English is a mongrel language anyway. Yet many concepts have not the words in English to express them. With speculative and science fiction, with new meta-mental states of consciousness mere pedestrian language will not do. No language is static. Except that of Latin. Ergo sum. QED.

  3. Interesting article. Regarding #7, I agree for the most part, however, your example using none gave me pause. There is some dissension whether using the singular verb “is” is always correct. There are some schools of thought that state if none refers to not any, the plural “are” is the preferred choice. Even the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style mention that if none refers to “No two,” “Not any,” “No amount of these,” the plural is acceptable. I believe this supports your point about breaking the rule, but in this case, I’d question if the rule even applies here. It’s all so confusing . . .
    Again, great article. Thanks!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.