Saturday, February 26, 2011

Grammar is Sexy Saturday: Breaking The Rules

But I shouldn’t break the rules! Yet I really want to. And, sometimes, I do it just to be naughty.

See how I did that? I broke the don’t start a sentence with a conjunction rule three times. I also used some adverbs and passive phrasing, but it’s early in the a.m., so sue me.

Some grammar rules are okay to break, as long as it’s done in moderation. Using a conjunction to start a sentence…

• can add emphasis
• can eliminate a run-on
• can prevent a sentence from sounding too choppy



Esther sighed and grabbed her backpack from the table before slinging it over her shoulder. Class started in twenty minutes, and she promised her mom she wouldn’t skip again. Those backstabbing girls in homeroom broke promises all the time. But that wasn’t Esther. Unlike her former friends, she kept her word.

Eliminate a run-on

A bus whizzed by as Esther started the fourteen-minute walk to her private school. Her uniform’s blazer offered little protection from the wind that whipped the lapels against her neck, but she instinctively pulled it tighter around her chest. There could’ve been a foot of snow on the ground, a blizzard, or temperatures reaching Antarctic lows and she still would’ve walked. Because the last week she rode the bus had been the worst of her life--those stupid girls! When she’d told them about the one bad thing she’d ever done, they’d promised not to tell.

Prevent choppiness

Her backpack slipped from her shoulder and fell to the floor when she saw the awful word spray-painted in red across her locker. A nun approached, glanced at the accusation, then at Esther. The teacher shook her head and kept walking. Did everyone know? There had to be someone—other than her mom--who didn’t think she was a slut for making one mistake. But who? Certainly not that self-righteous nun or Esther’s so-called friends, that much was obvious.

So go ahead and break the rules--just don't make a habit out of it. Consider it a tool you can use a limited amount of times, and pick those times wisely.

Keep Writing!


  1. If the author knows why they are breaking a grammar rule, then I think it's OK. In fact, perfect grammar can often be boring - But lazy run on sentences make my eyes bleed.

  2. I agree, but don't tell the nuns who taught me!

  3. Austin: Right, it's important to know WHEN we're breaking a rule. Blindly breaking them just leads to bad writing.

    Cyn: Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me.

  4. I agree that breaking the rules of grammer enrich a manuscript. I do that frequently in my novelst. The key is breaking the rules intentionally.