Grammar Bites | Introduction (YouTube Script)
Just the sound of those seven little letters is enough to get people looking for the closest exit. It might make you think of abstruse sentence diagrams, or, more likely, it makes you think of having “bad grammar” and getting your papers hacked and slashed with a red pen. Either way, grammar probably makes you feel judged, not smart enough, not good enough. That ends today.
You see, grammar doesn’t have an opinion about what you should or shouldn’t say. Grammar only tells you what is possible in a language. Grammar isn’t a list of rules: it’s a description of the system that governs the order of words in sentences. Since all writing is based on sentences, grammar is your guide to what’s possible in your writing.
So, for writers, you might think about grammar as you think about the color wheel for painters or scales for musicians. Sure, you can get a box of paints and make something that looks okay—but if you really understand color theory you can make something much more interesting and affecting. Same with grammar: you already know all the grammar you need to function in the English-speaking world. If you never learned anything else, you would be able to write well enough to get by. But, if you were to learn just a little bit of grammar—a little bit of the theory related to the parts of sentences and how they fit together—then you would be able to write more masterfully. Rather than relying on your grammar intuition and just hoping things work out, you’d be able to know something more about what you’re writing and why you’re writing it that way.
In this playlist, we aren’t going to be talking about the grammar you learned in school—the one with right and wrong answers—nor will we be dealing with the kinds of picky grammar details you’d learn in linguistics. The fact is, you don’t need tell the copula from a conjunctive adverb to be a better writer (no sooner than a painter needs to measure nanometer differences in light wavelengths to paint a masterpiece).
So take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. We’re not trying to ace a test or translate a dead language. The goal here is to help you to be a better writer by helping you to understand how to write better sentences, the kinds of sentences you want to write. No rules, no judgments. Just grammar.
And, who knows? You might even start to like it.