Use a grammatically correct word, and the world perceives you a learned sage. Use the wrong word, and the world perceives you an unintelligent architect of verbal oddities. A thorough knowledge of one’s native language streamlines expression of thought. Lack of knowledge sinks expression in a quagmire of ignorance.
Grammatical rules help specify meaning for better communication and understanding, especially with a language as carefully crafted as English. In English, one can say exactly what one means; but only if one knows the rules.
The following web pages fillet English rules into palatable slices. I’ll start with homonyms and similar sounding words, like further and farther. Then I’ll cover common problems words, problem word usage, and problem rules of grammar. I’ll then cover troubling punctuation, structure, style, and other subjects.
I hear and read people make many verbal and written gaffs, even from sources that should know better, such as newspapers writers, radio announcers, and television talking heads. One local commercial’s spokesman spoke of “lesser boxes of goods,” which, if taken grammatically, describes a collection of goods in poor quality containers. The speaker meant “fewer boxes of goods,” which refers to the number or quantity of boxes. In addition, almost every episode of Cops reveals a horrendous abuse of English: “Myself and Officer Jones arrested the suspect,” instead of, “Officer Jones and I arrested the suspect.” This nationwide and popular misuse of the reflexive pronoun scares me, because the guys and gals slaughtering their native language carry pistols, tasers, and pepper spray.
One day not far from Frenchtown, Montana, I stopped to speak with a man who owned a junkyard; I needed some rims for my old pickup truck. He suggested another junkyard on a certain street with an odd name.
“How do you spell that?” I asked.
“I don’t know; I don’t read or write.”
He didn’t blink or demonstrate any form of shame. He sounded almost defiantly proud. I could never imagine myself reveling in ignorance. If I couldn’t read or write, I would feign a heart attack before admitting it to a stranger.
Study the rules. They are not that difficult. Learning how to speak and write well lights the intellect like a sunrise after a dark night.