Confidence in Grammar is Confidence in Rhetoric

I had never before considered the nature of grammar. The rules of grammar were something that I was taught in early education, and have blindly followed for my entire educational career. Before our class discussion on grammar, I thought that if writing was grammatically correct, then it was correct. If academic writing did not follow the rules of grammar, then it would be reflected in the assignment’s grade. Anne Curzan’s article, Says Who? Teaching and Questioning the Rules of Grammar, along with our class discussion brought me to the realization that use of grammar can be a choice. This choice, being that it is planned and intentional, is an act of rhetoric.

Two characteristics of rhetoric, as explained by Herrick, are that it is planned and adapted to an audience. In Curzan’s article, she touches on the idea that grammar should be questioned when taught in the educational system. She states that grammar should not be taught as a “Because I say so” subject. By questioning the standards of grammar, students will not only have the better understanding of the subject that Curzan stresses, but will also be better able to understand the best uses of grammar. With a thorough understanding and confidence in the subject matter, writers will be better equipped to be adaptive in the use of grammar. The way I see it, just as a medical school graduate is better equipped to know the best medicine for a specific patient, a writer who has been correctly taught the nature of grammar is better equipped to adapt its usage to a specific audience.

By taking a planned approach in the use of grammar, the writer becomes a rhetorician. This use of rhetoric is not through the choice of words used, but in the most basic rules of the way in which these words are written. When grammar is not blindly followed, but used as a tool of conveying a message, it can become a powerful form of rhetoric.

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