Yes. Of course, grammar matters online.
As a self-professed grammar nerd, I say that not only because I adore the structure of grammar (I desperately need creative constraints when I’m writing, and the rules of grammar provide that… but that’s another post for another day) but because grammar helps your readers, well, read.
I’m not one to advocate strict adherence to every fussy rule in the style book.
Voice matters, and sometimes your voice requires you to know the rules and then let ’em go. <— see that ’em there? Letting a rule go, yo!
However, your readers need to understand the intent of your work. You need to convey your ideas clearly and succinctly, and grammar helps organize your words to do just that.
You write to be understood. The rules and structure of grammar allow that to happen.
When you write online, you write for two audiences: your readers and robots.
So, everything I mentioned above helps your readers. But when it comes to robots, grammar matters even more.
Robots can’t understand nuance. They can’t interpret data and devise their own conclusions. What the can do is scan for patterns.
Grammar enables that pattern recognition to happen to your benefit.
If the Google bots can’t figure out what your post is about with a scan, or if your works is riddled with misspellings, you won’t appear in search. It’s as simple as that.
I actually Googled this question–does grammar matter anymore?–and found a host of pearl-clutching searches:
- Does grammar matter in the workplace?
- Do schools teach grammar anymore?
- Does grammar really matter?
- Does grammar still matter?
- Grammar in today’s society
And so on.
The bottom line: Grammar evolves. Language use evolves. And people have been griping about the decline of grammar forever.
My husband got me a pocket-sized, 80-page book called Faulty Diction. The book was published in 1915 and opens with this line:
The design of this booklet is to aid those who consult it in the correction of many of the faults of speech and writing common among English-speaking people of some, or even considerable, education.
The book includes entries that include things like (I’m paraphrasing) incorrect pronoun usage is inexcusable among the educated and describes the word “lots” as “a slipshod colloquialism for ‘a great many.'” HA!
But even this grumpy, fussy text agrees:
It is further to be noted that while the colloquial, technical, or poetical use of words and forms does not justify their general employment in prose literature, and especially in literature in the stricter sense, it is still true that such expressions may be good and indispensable in their own proper spheres, and that many of them are gradually elevated in the process of use until they become essential parts of the language of the higher literature.
(You guys, I love this book so much.)
Language evolves. Grammar evolves.
Know the rules so you can figure out how to use them artfully.
Grammar still matters, and it always will–even if it doesn’t look the same as the rules from 1915 or the rules of today.