Wordplay is a blog project featuring posts from students enrolled in ENG 320 Grammar and Linguistics (Fall 2019)
Controversial Grammar Rules
by Brooke Kuehn
How often do you really think about the grammar you use every day? Hardly ever. We tend to just write whatever comes to our minds and not think of how it looks on the paper. There are so many different grammar rules that I didn’t even know were rules. The oxford comma, starting a sentence with however, and punctuations inside quotations marks. All of those examples are common grammar rules that we don’t think about when writing. They are also some of the most controversial grammar rules as well.
Let’s start with talking about the oxford comma. In grammar terms this is an optional comma before the word “and” at the end of a list. For example, “I want to thank my parents, John, and Lisa.”. In this sentence, they add a comma after John. When I write this sentence, I write it as, “I want to thank my parents, John and Lisa.”. I don’t put a comma after John. I feel when it comes to the oxford comma rule it is a rule that can be broken. There is a big debate on whether to keep it or let it go. In my opinion, it is a personal preference and neither one is correct or wrong.
The next grammar rule I want to talk about is the “however rule.” This rule states that you should never start a sentence with the word “however.” This is a rule that I am 50/50 on. I believe that you can use it but I understand why they say not to. In the sentence to the left they use howevern the beginning of the sentence. I would say that this could be considered using it correctly since there is a comma after the words. The logic behind this rule is for your writing to sound more mature. In the sentence, “However, Holden acts like a child.”, the however is in the beginning using a comma afterwards. This sentence is fine in my opinion. You could make it better, though. Change the sentence structure a bit so the sentence goes “Holden, however, also acts like a child.” This sentence was just modified a bit and it makes you seem much more educated in your writing.
Finally, punctuation inside quotation marks. Depending where you are from decides if this is or isn’t a rule. Using a punctuation inside the sentence is only used in American. When we go to write a sentence, this rule is just commonly taught in schools. Most of us know that we always put punctuation inside the quotation marks. For example, the quote, “Tacos sound great for supper.” has a period at the end of the sentence. This is considered one of the most controversial grammar rules based on that fact that only America has this rule.
Each of the rules above are considered to be controversial because it is left up to opinion, or where you are from. The oxford comma is constantly being debated between grammarians who have an opinion and neither side seems to be budging on the subject. Using however in the beginning of a sentence is a battle between using however or nevertheless. Putting punctuation inside quotation marks is only controversial because it is done only in America. It is controversial on the international level. Each has their own reasons for sparking a debate and each will continue to be debated on for some time to come.
Brooke Kuehn is a senior studying K-8 education. She plans to teach 3rd to 5th grade someday. This is her second year at Chadron after transferring as a junior from McCook Community College, where she received an associates of art degree. She is from Holdrege, Nebraska, where she lives with her aunt, uncle, and their two children.