And Does Grammar Matter?

The other day I sent a piece of my copywriting to an old sub-editor friend on my first newspaper. He almost had a heart attack.

You see he spent more than a year beating ‘bad habits’ out of my system. And to him starting a sentence with the words ‘And’ or ‘Because’ was basically heresy.

He just didn’t get why I kept saying ‘You’, either.

I had to explain to him that language has moved on.

Others Don’t Agree

Some people disagree, to the extent Magnus Shaw just posted this rage against the dying of the light on Creativepool.

But grammar is a flexible thing in the world of copywriting and there are lots of great ads, brochures and websites that break every rule in the book.

Sentences are short, too, especially for the web.

Because this sentence is too long…

That means the convoluted sentence structure of yesteryear, with its constant commas and colons, just doesn’t work as well in the modern environment and it’s better to break a sentence, before starting the next one with a technically incorrect word, rather than produce blocks of text that is borderline unreadable when it’s there on the screen in front of you.

See my point?

Because the number of sales is all that matters. And we have found that short, snappy sentences drive prospects and close deals. So that’s what we use.

Other tips and tricks

There are a few other things we’ve found work best in modern copywriting, too.

They include:

  • Lists in the middle of articles.
  • Sentence fragments for emphasis.
  • Occasional bolding for readability.
  • Just occasionally CAPPED UP words that look all shouty.

I’m really not a big fan of the capital letter treatment for the most part. It’s just not that subtle. But others like it and that’s all fine with me.

I’s a freelance writer who will stick with my fragments, my shortened sentences and opening with an ‘And’, ‘But’ or ‘Because’.

My clients seem to like it that way, too. Because it makes them sales.


2 thoughts on “And Does Grammar Matter?

  1. Elvira

    I believe that disregarding the general style rules does not necessarily imply breaking the basic grammatical rules. Openings with an ‘And’, ‘But’ or ‘Because’ are more immediate and more effective. I do agree that short, snappy sentences drive prospects and close deals.

  2. Nick Post author

    It’s a different style of writing to the one I grew up with. I trained as a journalist and editor with newspapers and magazines. Times have changed, though, and I’m happy to embrace the new world. We have to, or we’ll be buried like dinosaurs!


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