Re: Does grammar matter?

Subject: Re: Does grammar matter?
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 12:23:44 -0700

> So long as the meaning is clear, I repeat, that based on usability testing,
> the other things I mentioned in the first post are more important than
> grammar.

I agree with you. Our experience with users has been that they don't
pay attention to the finer points of grammar. Who cares if you split an
infinitive, as long as the sentence makes sense to the average user?

We have found that grammar matters in general, since good grammar
defines the rules by which sentences are supposed to make sense.
However, there are some grammar rules that are outmoded and clumsy, and
those, in my opinion, are well avoided in favor of readability.

A parallel: many of us who learned to type some 30 years or more ago
learned to put two spaces after a period. Like tying one's shoes, it's
a habit we simply learned. Framemaker has decreed that there shall be
only a single space after a period, and when you run the spellchecker
calls the extra space to your attention every time, unless you remember
to deliberately turn off the extra spaces. There is no general
agreement that one space is the only truly proper way to type, but some
people think so. In a sense, Framemaker is enforcing the single space
issue in the same way that some editors enforce the no-split-infinitives

Is good grammar important? Most of the time, but not when it interferes
with good communication.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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