To Boldly Go: Breaking the Rules

Never split an infinitive. Don’t begin a sentence with a contraction or end a sentence with a preposition. For that matter, do not use contractions in formal writing.  Use only complete sentences, not fragments.

These are just a few of the traditional English grammar rules that used to be unbreakable, but are now considered to be simply guidelines for beginners, or even thrown out completely as outdated.

I regularly break each of those rules, and probably several more that I’m not even aware of.  I hope my rebellion only benefits my writing.  And I hope I don’t annoy my proper Scottish papa too much.

The key to effectively breaking the rules, is to know the rules.  Once you can write well within the rules, and understand the reason for them, a judiciously broken rule can add spice to your writing.  Like a well-placed sentence fragment.  That is why they have highschool English classes.

Are there any rules you never keep?  Or any you never break?


3 thoughts on “To Boldly Go: Breaking the Rules

  1. i use the formal rules for business letters, but break them regularly when i write creatively. i like what you say: “a judiciously broken rule can add spice to your writing.”

  2. I am anti-comma. Especially in dialogue. If I say the dialogue out loud and don’t pause, then the damn comma shouldn’t be there. 🙂 In above sentence I did pause. However, I could see myself saying to someone “If I don’t pause then the damn comma shouldn’t be there!” People forget to breath when they’re angry 😉

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