Grammar rules are changing, always have. But how far is too far? I was taught never to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” I just did that. Today it’s acceptable. However, we need to know the rules so we know how and when to break them. Here are a few of my pet peeves:
I’ve heard young authors say that commas just get in the way, so they don’t use them at all. Is that really wise? Unless he/she only wants to self-publish, they won’t get anywhere with a traditional publisher. It also leads to confusing sentences. The baby has a bottle rubber ducky rattle and shoes. Is that a “bottle rubber ducky rattle and shoes,” a “bottle, rubber ducky rattle, and shoes” or a “bottle, rubber ducky, rattle and shoes?” All three conjure up different items. The only item the reader knows for sure is the shoes.
When I’m reading in past tense and come across words like: ago, tomorrow, yesterday, and such, it pulls me out of the story. Those terms convey speaking in present tense. I use: before or earlier, the next day, the day before, and such. Dialogue is different. The author is quoting what was said.
I was taught all foreign words are italicized, even the ones we use every day. (Okay I’ll admit we underlined them in the days before computers, but the same rule applies.) Words like via, and others I can’t think of right now.
Then there are the words that have similar meanings that are not interchangeable. The one I hear the most often is the misuse of “less.” It’s often used when it should be “fewer.” Less cannot be counted, fewer can. Examples: less money—fewer dollars, fewer calories—less fattening, I could go on, but hopefully I have made my point. If it can be counted, it should be fewer—if not, it should be less.
Grammar changes, and always will, but let’s not come off as less educated than we are.