In Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, sixth edition (New York: Longman, 2000), author Joseph M. Williams makes a good case for the foolhardiness of slavishly abiding by every grammar rule. Many grammar rules are beloved and cited endlessly by self-proclaimed grammar experts who themselves have limited writing experience. Williams divides many of these rules into two categories: folklore and options.
Which rules fall under folklore? Beginning a sentence with but, and, or because and fretting over the difference between that and which. And what are the optional rules? Splitting an infinite, shall vs. will, and who vs. whom.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to know the rules before breaking them, but Williams’s points are reasonable enough. After all, rarely would any of these issues have an effect on meaning.
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