On this day each year, March 4, we celebrate National Grammar Day, a chance to honor grammar in all its glory. But why should grammar get a holiday? Why is it even important at all?
A couple of recent discussions inspired me to think about why grammar is important. Of course it is, or I wouldn’t waste a bunch of time writing about it. But I’ve always thought of it as a given, rather than something needing an explanation.
So when someone on Twitter asked, “How would you convince someone that understanding grammar is important? ‘I will never use it, I know how to spell without it’ ” I had to articulate an answer.
First, spelling doesn’t equal grammar. (It’s important too, though.)
Second, you do use grammar — we all use it, every time we speak or write. Most of us don’t even think about it if we’re speaking our native language. Grammar is why we know Yoda talks funny, why we are able to differentiate “Dog bites man” from “Man bites dog,” and why we can pile up modifiers and clauses and compound predicates and still come away with a sentence that makes perfect sense.