From the 60s to the 90s in the UK, the powers-that-were decided to enable creativity and freedom of thought in the sponge-like minds of the nation’s students by electing to not teach us any grammar.

So we luxuriated in wonderlands that evolved in our imaginations, we could wax lyrical verbally and develop incredible characters…But could we write it all down? Not on your nelly!
I have little to no recollection of any formal grammar training. When I re-read my English A level private study, I have to hide behind the sofa to avoid the horror of the lack of structure at sentence, paragraph and whole-text level; I wince in embarrassment at my use of even the most basic punctuation; ideas leap around all over the place, battling with each other in their creative urgency to make it onto the paper.

Years on and through teaching what was then the newly-formed National Literacy Strategy, I started to wade in the glory that are the intricacies of English grammar and punctuation: those fabulous little signposts that enable us to fully grasp what the author is trying to say.

Teaching English to non-native speakers, I snuggled up even closer to this wonderful language and am now rapt by the – sometimes massive – differences in usage and understanding shown by each writer.

What is correct and what is not?

It’s impossible to not get lost in the details and worry constantly that the propriety of the symbol used. In some moments, I consider myself an expert in English, believing that I have finally got it all pegged; next moment, I crumble and feel like a Lilliputian in a world of linguistic giants.

What punctuation or point of grammar do you find insurmountable? What was your experience of learning grammar and punctuation? How do you overcome the problems left as the legacy of being able to be super-creative in your imagination?


Proofreader, copy-writer and copy-editor

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