Grammar like Roadsigns

My university held a great conference yesterday called New Voices (and it’s still going on today in downtown Atlanta if you’re interested. Details here.) and went to a panel about writing studios. 

One of the presenters there, Helen, gave one of the best ways of explaining grammar that I’ve heard so I thought I would pass it along. In Atlanta we spend a lot of time in our cars because traffic is crazy, so this explanation worked well. 

Imagine you’re driving down the road and suddenly all the signs disappear. There’s nothing telling you how fast to go, where to stop, where to turn, or even where you are. How do you get to your destination? Grammar works like those signs. It tells us where to slow down, what information is important, and where we should stop. It helps guide us safely to our destination. 

Now, the analogy is not perfect, but I really thought it was one of the best ways to describe the role that grammar plays. 

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