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Does grammar matter? Show more Show less
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Grammar can often seem to be an annoyance to be aware of when we write or speak. In comment sections all over the internet we might observe someone making a grammatical mistake such as using “your” instead of “you’re”, and people indignantly pointing out the error. In the end, those who read that comment understand what the writer meant - so does it really matter at all?

Grammar matters on some occasions only Show more Show less

Grammar is important only when we really have to be precise.
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Precise grammar is crucial only when writing official documents

Legal documentations require the ultimate precision as they have to clearly lay down the rules for a specified region.
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The Argument

Grammatical disputes can cause legal issues. One example is the case of a company in Maine that had to pay 5 million dollars because of a missing comma. A certain subsection dictating what professions should receive a certain amount of overtime pay in Maine’s laws states: “The overtime provision of this section does not include: The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of [foods]”. The ambiguity in this sentence is in the last item. It was unclear whether overtime should not be paid for just the people who packed foods for shipment or distribution, or for the people who packed foods for shipment AND the people who distributed the foods. The company believed the latter, and a few truck drivers the former. A lawsuit was charged against the company, and the company ended up having to pay their truck drivers a total 5 million dollars for their overtime wages. [1] Most American states now require the use of the Oxford comma (a comma placed in the second-last item of a list of things) in government documents to reduce lexical ambiguities. This shows the significance of having precise grammar in official documents - it changes the way cases are judged, which potentially affects many lives.

Counter arguments


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Friday, 1 May 2020 at 15:55 UTC