I came home listening to a radio discussion about the use of “less” in an advertisement when the word “fewer” was considered (by the radio presenters) to be the better term.
It made me think about the continuing debate about the teaching of “correct” English. It seems to me that we have still have many people who are obsessed with correct usage as against a concern for what is actually written.
Ideally of course we would have correct usage with superb content. The point is that when one is trying to create content, be it fiction or non-fiction then at first the actual wording, what you want to say, surely takes precedent over the grammatical correctness.
I was always pleased to see something really interesting written by a child.. especially one who had so called “problems” with writing.. than worrying about the poor spelling and the misuse of punctuation or its non-appearance.
As I write this post I am aware that I may make some mistakes.. but WordPress (bless them) have provided me with an editor so that I can check my spellings and some of my more unusual use of language.
I have written a number of posts now (over 200) and I must admit that I do not spend too much time sitting back and thinking… is this the correct use of the term “less” or “fewer”? I admit that there are rules and that I should try as much as I can to adhere to them… but at the end of the day… what you want to read and what I want to write is something that flows, that has a point to it, that might entertain, that might challenge you (as no doubt this post may).
If a student is in full slow and is creating a story that makes sense to him or her then I do not want to stop that flow by bringing all of it down to grammar and usage. The Grammar should act as the handmaiden to the content not as the Guardian at the gates of correct usage.
It reminds me so much of the bad old days where you would write something and have it returned to you with lots of words and phrases surrounded by red pen and the letters sp. or punctuation!! above them. There was always a comment along the lines of “be careful with your spelling and punctuation”. It would have been nice if they could tell you if the piece had some meaning that was of value and in which way the content could be improved.
I would very much welcome comments on this post… but not in terms of the use of the words… in terms of the content, which, at the end of the day, is what counts!