Be aware of ‘grammar non-rules’

Writing brings me great joy. However, it can be struggle for some. This is partially due to all the “rules” one must follow when constructing even the simplest of sentences.

However, you need to be careful to not fall into the trap of “non-rules.”

Lisa McLendon

In April 2011, Maddam Grammar writer and member of the American Copy Editors Society Lisa McLendon, who runs the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas journalism school, and, prior to that, spent a dozen years on newspaper copy desks after getting a doctorate in Slavic linguistics, wrote an interesting article about such “non-rules” in grammar.

You can read the full post here: Nutty non-rules of grammar

But the main takeaway is to be cautious of all the “rules” you’ve been taught. Writing is flexible. As McLendon said, “Use good judgment and common sense in your writing, and keep the focus on clarity.”

You really need to read the entire post. It is full of great information and examples. But here are the main points she covered in the realm of “rules” for the English language that are NOT legitimate:

• Don’t split infinitives or compound verbs.

• Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.

• Don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

• Cakes are “done,” but people are “finished.”

• Don’t begin a sentence with the word “it.”

• Don’t use the passive voice.

• Paragraphs MUST have 5 sentences (topic, 3 support sentences, conclusion).

• Sentences must have verbs.

Again, go read the article. If you want to improve as a writer, you need to be aware of ways to use language to the best of your ability.

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About toddvogts 827 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at