What Do You Know About Grammar?

The articles this week were not exactly what I was expecting. I was excited to see that the readings were going to be about sentences and grammar because I am a huge linguistics nerd and love to learn about sentence structures (weird, yes, I know). But these articles really did not excite me, more so they kind of upset me. They both discussed, basically, ways in which we are doing it all wrong when it comes to teaching writing. I did enjoy reading them, they were just not what I had anticipated.

Robert Connors’s “The Erasure of the Sentence” talked about the three methods of writing a sentence that were experimented decades ago: the Christensen method, imitation, and sentence-combining. Christensen rhetoric focused on how to write a good sentence, emphasizing the ideas that go into said sentence. His views are described as “a pedagogical method that could be used to teach students how to write longer, more mature, more varied and interesting sentences” (Connors 98). Based off of the section on Christensen’s method, I do agree that knowing how to write a good sentence is extremely important, especially when it comes to writing lengthy papers. If you cannot properly portray what you are trying to say, your writing will fall short and you will lose the attention of the reader. But if you have well thought out, nicely worded and executed sentences, then your writing will be considered “good”. I’m not sure if this is exactly what he meant by this, but that is how I took it. Your ideas and how you formulate them into sentences are important when it comes to the practice of writing.

According to Connors, imitation refers to making one’s writing comparable in form to another more superior writer (101). I don’t know about everyone else, but the whole time I was reading this section all I could think about was plagiarism. I know that the idea is not to imitate the actual content of the writing, just the form, but my mind always goes right to the scary stuff apparently. Anyway, I did find this section interesting but I do not think I really agree with it. First of all, how do we decide which writers to imitate? Who’s to say they are the “best” writers? Also, I feel like the concept of originality is nailed into our brains at a young age and if we imitate other people’s writing then how are we being original? I know there are specific rules to follow when writing, but other than that I feel like we should not be told to follow someone else’s style because it defeats the purpose of being original. Maybe I misunderstood the meaning, but I could not really get behind this idea fully. I agree that certain things should be concrete but not everything.

Connors also talks about sentence-combining, which is taking multiple sentences and making them one cohesive sentence (103). This is something we are taught to do at a young age, like elementary school, and I do agree that this is a good skill to have. Sentence-combining can be helpful in making your writing flow and not be super choppy, and it also can help you to further your ideas into more sophisticated thoughts. Although I do not believe that a sentence has to be long in order to be considered sophisticated, I do think it *sometimes* makes a difference in how it is perceived.

Patrick Hartwell’s “Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar” sort of just made me angry because I was finding it hard to comprehend. I have always been big on grammar and it is something I really focus on while writing because that is what we were all taught to do. Seeing this controversy regarding grammar is frustrating for me because I was always taught that it is one of the most important parts of writing. When discussing Grammars 1, 2, and 3 in the article, it was clear that there is no concrete proof that any of it actually makes sense or works. Why do we believe it then?

I am not a teacher and have had no teaching experience whatsoever, so I feel I can’t really say much about the topic of teaching grammar or how to teach grammar. I do still feel that grammar is an extremely vital part of writing that should not be ignored, but I do have some suspicions after reading this article. It is obvious that reading is a big part of writing as well, which I agree needs to be focused on. But if someone does not have proper grammar then how are they supposed to write properly. Or is the point that there is not just one way to write “properly” and grammar really isn’t that important, it’s just there to sort of guide the writing? I’m not sure, but it is clear that these topics of conversation have been going on for a while and do not seem to have any sort of solution in sight.