Does Grammar Matter?

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
—Elmore Leonard
Like most people who deal in words, my skin crawls when I see typos or poor usage. My biggest pet peeve is when I see status updates on Facebook or other social media that are full of errors from people who are smart enough to know better (at least on paper. These people are supposed to have college degrees!).
However, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it really matters. Sure, it matters on resumes and in business in general. However, in writing marketing copy, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to sacrifice a few of the grammar rules in order to make the copy more relatable to the target audience. It’s also necessary to do so sometimes for design purpose. There have been a few occasions where I’ve started sentences with the actual numbers instead of spelling them out—on the page, it tends to look better. Anytime a reader has to pause and think, there’s a chance we could lose them. More often than not, less thinking equals better retention, especially if we’re trying to get them to act, whether it’s buying our latest widget or getting them to eat better.
What do you think? Does proper grammar always matter?

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