Tutor HuntResources English Resources

Does Grammar Even Matter?

A look at how to use grammar and punctuation creatively to create meaning

Date : 12/01/2022

Author Information


Uploaded by : Connie
Uploaded on : 12/01/2022
Subject : English

When learning grammar - semi-colons, apostrophes, ellipsis - you might find yourself wondering, why do I even need to know all of this? Some students may even feel that grammar gets in the way of their creative flow, and when they are trying to write, whether essays or stories, they may forget the grammar rules that they have tried so hard to practise and remember, because it just doesn`t seem necessary. Words are what make a story, right?

Not quite. Words alone won`t cut it. Try reading these lines from Wilfred Owen`s famous WW1 poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, aloud:

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame& all blindlt;br>Drunk with fatigue& deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
You might notice that it`s hard to read these lines very quickly. That`s because they`re broken into grammatical units by commas, full stops, semi-colons, and line breaks. Try reading the same verse aloud, but this time without any of those elements:
men marched asleep many had lost their boots but limped on blood-shod all went lame all blind drunk with fatigue deaf even to the hoots of gas shells dropping softly behind
Do you notice any changes in how you read the words without punctuation? Can you detect any changes in the drama and emphasis between the first and second examples? In the original poem, the pace of the poem is slowed down by the punctuation, and the semi-colons create a list of misery that towers increasingly higher. The short sentences and short grammatical units allow you to pay more attention to, and put more emphasis on, the sounds of the words, such as the heavy, despairing consonants of `blood-shod`. lt;/span>
Let`s look at a couple of sillier examples of how grammar can change meaning by experimenting with a few phrases and seeing how we can punctuate them.
Let`s eat, grandma! (meaning: telling your grandma to eat with you)
Let`s eat grandma! (meaning: let`s eat our grandma)
Let`s eat...grandma? (meaning: asking whether we should eat our grandma)
Or another one - this time, see if you can figure out how the punctuation changes the meaning:
A woman without her man is nothing.
A woman. Without her, man is nothing!
One last one:
It`s all over, my friend.
It`s all over my friend!

This resource was uploaded by: Connie

Other articles by this author