So you think you know a lot about grammar? Just because your high school English teacher taught you a particular rule for using the English language doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. In fact, here are six common grammar myths that you should stop believing right now.
1. It’s Wrong To Use a Preposition at the End of a Sentence
Some people might tell you that you can never end a sentence with a preposition, but this is untrue. Many verb phrases use prepositions, such as “wake up” or “throw up,” and separating them would change your meaning. The only time you need to leave off a preposition is if the sentence holds the same meaning without it. For example, it’s incorrect to ask “Where are you going to?” because “Where are you going?” means the same thing. Also, it is OK to use a preposition at the end of a sentence to keep the sentence from sounding awkward.
2. You Can’t Use a Conjunction at the Start of a Sentence
I was taught from a young age that starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, yet, also, etc.) is incorrect. While it’s probably best practice to avoid this structure in formal writing, it is grammatically acceptable to begin a sentence using a conjunction. So tell that to the next person who says you shouldn’t do it, and add it to the list of grammar myths!
3. You Should Avoid Passive Voice Always
Active phrasing is stronger in writing. However, this doesn’t mean you have to avoid passive voice all the time. Sometimes passive phrasing is unavoidable. For example, if you don’t know who is performing the action of a sentence, passive phrasing might be the best option.
Ex: My yogurt was taken from the refrigerator yesterday.
4. It’s Incorrect To Split Infinitives
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t split infinitives. The infinitive is the base form of the verb. In English, that is usually the “to” form, such as “to go”, “to read” and “to write.” However, splitting an infinitive can have an emphatic effect. If you wish to purposefully split an infinitive, you are within your grammarly rights to do so.
5. Use “an” Before Words That Start With Vowels
Using “a” or “an” before a word in English depends on the sound it makes and not on whether the first letter is a consonant or vowel. That’s why people say “an hour” instead of “a hour” – the “H” is silent and the word starts with a vowel sound. This is also true for acronyms such as MVP or MBA. Go by sound and not by the first letter when choosing to use “a” or “an.”
Ex: Can I offer you an herbal tea?
Ex: A historic home comes with a steep purchase price.
6. New Words Demean Proper Language and Grammar
One of the beautiful aspects of language is that it is dynamic. The words we use today are not the same as those used 100 years ago. Did you know that the word “OK” wasn’t generally used in the English language until well into the 1800s? New words are not a danger to language; they are the natural results of language growth. Words will come and go because that is the very nature of language.
You probably encounter many of these grammar myths on a regular basis, but it’s time to set the record straight. Which grammar myth do your friends and family believe to be absolutely true? Which myth drives you crazy? Tell me all about it in the comments!