The Hierarchy of Writing Rules

The Hierarchy of Writing Rules

The rules of writing can often seem arbitrary and confusing. You spend years in school learning how to use commas, conjugate verbs, and write sentences, but even after all that work it still seems like there's always stuff that you haven't learned. Sometimes it can even feel like the rules themselves are changing right in front of you, and you just can't keep up.
All that confusion isn't necessarily your fault, though. While in school it might have seemed like the rules of writing were set in stone, out in the real world there's a lot of debate about the "proper" way to write. In fact, part of the reason that it might feel like the rules for writing are always changing is that they actually are. English is constantly evolving, and this means that usage rules are never set in stone.

The Hierarchy of Writing Rules

Because English is always growing and changing, it can be hard to keep track of what is a "real" writing mistake and what is a case of ambiguity in the writing rules. In order to understand which is which, you need to understand the different types of rules that we all follow when we write. Once you understand this hierarchy, you can decide which rules you need to follow and which ones you can leave behind.

The Rules That Really Matter

While nothing in a language is set in stone, there are some rules that might as well be. Things like conjugating verbs and the structure of complete sentences are firm grammar rules that we're all taught from a very young age, and making mistakes in these areas is a big no-no when it comes to writing. It will make your writing look unprofessional and will likely result in a pretty bad grade.
For native speakers, many of these rules cover things that we don't consciously think about when writing and speaking. Because the basic parts of speech and rules of grammar are drilled into students from the minute they start talking, you probably don't have to stop and think when you want to conjugate a verb-at this point you probably just do it by instinct.
For non-native speakers, these rules might require a little bit for effort. If you're worried that you're getting basic grammar wrong in your papers, you should ask for help from a teacher or tutor. Remember, these are the rules that form the foundation of the English language, and if you get them wrong your work won't stand up.

Examples of Rules That Really Matter

  • Conjugating verbs (I am, she is, they are)
  • Independent versus dependent clauses (e.g., every sentence needs a subject and a verb)
  • Pronoun usage (She ate the cookie; I gave her the book.)
  • Ending sentences with the correct punctuation

The Rules That Most People Get Wrong

While most of us have been facing down grammar lessons since we were kids, there are still lots of grammatical issues that plenty of people get wrong. These are the rules that are confusing for almost everybody and that even professional writers will need to look up from time to time. Often they are rules that get ignored during conversation or informal writing, but which still need to be obeyed in academic work.
While it's best if you can fix these sorts of mistakes before you hand in a paper, it's also probably true that making these mistakes won't completely sink your writing assignment. Even teachers understand that the rules of English are complicated and that no one is perfect, which means they'll likely have some sympathy if you occasionally trip and fall over common grammatical issues.

Examples of Rules That Most People Get Wrong

  • Who versus whom
  • Lay versus lie
  • Which versus that
  • Punctuating sentences that start with however
  • Conjugating singular nouns such as each, every, and nobody

The Rules That Aren't Really Rules

There are lots of people out in the world who love to correct grammar. They'll get angry at incorrectly punctuated street signs and tell you that you should never end a sentence with a preposition. Unfortunately, this desire to constantly correct everyone's writing has led to the creation of a lot of grammar myths-rules that people love to cite but that aren't actually rules at all.
Some of these are simply mistakes or myths that have been made popular by people who don't know any better. For example, that rule about prepositions at the end of sentences comes from a single guide to style published in a 19th century by a bishop who believed English should follow Latin structure. However, this isn't actually a rule that appears in most standard English textbooks.
Many of these are rules that at one point actually were real at some point, but have since evolved or become obsolete. For example, the meaning of phrases like "beg the question" and "literally" have slowly changed over time, and what used to be considered the an incorrect usage is not considered commonplace. If you find yourself in trouble for breaking some of these "rules," all you have to do is break out a style guide or grammar textbook to show that you're in the right.

Examples of Rules That Aren't Really Rules

  • Never end a sentence with a preposition
  • Never start a sentence with a conjunction
  • Never split infinitives

The Rules That Nobody Agrees On

When your teacher is telling you how to conjugate verbs in elementary school, it might seem like grammar is this monolithic force that is never wrong, but in fact there are lots of grammatical rules that people don't agree on. There's no central authority that writes the rules of English, so when writers, editors, and educators don't agree on a particular issue, it can turn into a real mess. Often these rules address issues that are in the process of evolving-when things used to be done a certain way, and that way is now changing, there's going to be a period when nobody agrees on what the right way is.
If you have a question about one of these rules, it's always a good idea to ask your teacher or professor. Because there's no technically "right" answer, often it's best to simply go with whatever the person grading your paper prefers. If, however, you want to stand your ground on a particular grammatical issue, you'll probably be able to find a style guide or textbook that's on your side (just keep in mind that there will likely be books that argue against your side as well).

Examples of Rules That Nobody Agrees On

  • What to do when you need a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (e.g., do you say "he or she" or "they")
  • Less versus fewer
  • Whether or not to use the Oxford comma

The Rules of Style

When it comes to style and formatting, there's usually not a "correct" answer. Instead, issues like spacing, writing out dates, and punctuating lists are codified in style guides that are specific to publications or academic disciplines, which means how you format your paper will vary depending on who you're writing for. What's right in an English paper might be wrong for a chemistry lab and vice versa.
For most students, the issue of style is most obvious when it comes to do in-text citations and bibliographies. Every field has its own rules about doing references, and you'll likely be looking at a guide like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers to make sure you get your reference page right. Remember, style rules will vary widely between different manuals, but every style guide will be exacting about its own particular set of guidelines. If you are supposed to be using MLA style, you'll be in the wrong if you violate the rules in that guide, even if your formatting might be right for other styles.

Examples of Rules of Style

  • Citations and reference formatting
  • Title pages
  • How to write out numbers, dates, and foreign words
  • Punctuation issues like serial commas and where to place quotation marks

The Rules That Vary By Location

Sometimes rules of grammar or spelling are particular to a certain country, dialect, or region. This issue isn't likely to come up very often, but it is one that writers need to be aware of. The most common example is the difference between American and British English, but other regions can also have their own way of speaking and writing that may not fit with traditional grammar rules.
Writers may sometimes need to vary their writing to match the needs of their audience. For example, if you're an American writing for a British publication, you will need to make certain changes in your spelling and punctuation.

Examples of Rules That Vary By Location

  • Spelling (e.g., Americans write "gray" and "center" while the British write "grey" and centre.")
  • Punctuation
  • Colloquialisms
photo

Kevin Demlon

writer

Kevin writes helpful articles to share his knowledge with students in need. He enjoys writing articles on new subjects and does his best to create each post showing writing tips in a clear way. writer

Our TOP writers

TOP 10
Writer 79862
ID 79862

Master's in Project Management, PMP, Six Sigma

Rating 97.8%
(97.8%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 79862

3913 written pages

980 orders

941 a+ papers

My Master’s degree and comprehensive writing experience allow me to complete any order fast and hit the nail on the head every time.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 90763
ID 90763

MBA, PMP, ITIL

Rating 97.2%
(97.2%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (7) about writer 90763

7125 written pages

891 orders

775 a+ papers

I am experienced writer with an MBA, PMP, ITIL, that consistently delivers unique, quality papers. I take pride in my experience and quickness.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 130502
ID 130502

MS in Human Resource Management

Rating 99.5%
(99.5%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (9) about writer 130502

3206 written pages

804 orders

699 a+ papers

I hold a MS degree in Human Resource and my goal is to help students with flawless, unique papers, delivered on time.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 101794
ID 101794

RN, MSN, PCN, PHN

Rating 98%
(98%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (6) about writer 101794

6630 written pages

829 orders

730 a+ papers

As Registered Nurse (RN, PCN), I can quickly deal with any medical paper. My expertise and writing skills are perfect for this job.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 107367
ID 107367

MPA, MHA

Rating 99.1%
(99.1%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 107367

1288 written pages

431 orders

414 a+ papers

I have MPA, MHA degrees but, most importantly, experience and skills to provide unique, well-written papers on time.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 47072
ID 47072

DNP, BA, APN, PMHNP-BC

Rating 99.2%
(99.2%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (9) about writer 47072

28166 written pages

2817 orders

2507 a+ papers

I can write about multiple areas and countless topics, as I have a DNP and BA degrees. High-quality writing is my second name.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 85466
ID 85466

PhD in American History

Rating 97.6%
(97.6%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 85466

14096 written pages

1763 orders

1534 a+ papers

A PhD in American history comes handy. Unique papers, any topics, swift delivery — helping with academic writing is my passion.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 89474
ID 89474

MA, PsyD, LMFT

Rating 99.2%
(99.2%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (7) about writer 89474

5253 written pages

1052 orders

968 a+ papers

Incredibly fast PsyD writer. Efficient paper writing for college. Hundreds of different tasks finished. Satisfaction guaranteed.

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 129721
ID 129721

MEd, NCC, LPC, LMFT

Rating 98.8%
(98.8%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (9) about writer 129721

1601 written pages

230 orders

200 a+ papers

Top-ranked writer with tons of experience. Ready to take on any task, and make it unique, as well as objectively good. Always ready!

hire writer
TOP 10
Writer 106387
ID 106387

MSW, LICSWA, DSW-C

Rating 99%
(99%)
CUSTOMER REVIEWS (8) about writer 106387

975 written pages

196 orders

171 a+ papers

Experienced Social Work expert focused on good writing, total uniqueness, and customer satisfaction. My goal — to help YOU.

hire writer

Buy your papers from the best writing service

Have your tasks done by our professionals to get the best possible results.

total: $8.51
Confidentiality

NO Billing information is kept with us. You pay through secure and verified payment systems.

Quality

All papers we provide are of the highest quality with a well-researched material, proper format and citation style.

Communication

Our 24/7 Support team is available to assist you at any time. You also can communicate with your writer during the whole process.

Authorship

You are the single owner of the completed order. We DO NOT resell any papers written by our expert

Originality

All orders are done from scratch following your instructions. Also, papers are reviewed for plagiarism and grammar mistakes.

Samples

You can check the quality of our work by looking at various paper examples in the Samples section on our website.

Special price $8.51/page
Place an order
63,000
more than 63,000 times students trusted us to write their papers
9/10
9 out of 10 customers recommend us*
92%
92% of our customers have placed more than 7 orders
*data is based on 6,568 customers' feedback received from Jan 1, 2017 till Jan 1, 2018.
Special price $8.51/page
Place an order
Customer #5381

I'm basically living my dream life by majoring in the thing I love, but sometimes I physically cannot meet some deadlines. My friend told me about you, and I'm happy I listened to her. My argumentative essay from you got an A!

Customer #2020

Your services are good and I will use your help in the future. My research paper on business was good and got a grade I expected. I think you need to expand your services and offer other types of assignments but in general I am satisfied.

Estimated Deadline: Saturday, Mar 20 3:28 AM in Your timezone
Total price: $8.51
Price starts from $8.51
Regular discounts and offers
Excellent results guaranteed
Professional 24/7 support

Free samples of our work

There are different types of essays: narrative, persuasive, compare\contrast, definition and many many others. They are written using a required citation style, where the most common are APA and MLA. We want to share some of the essays samples written on various topics using different citation styles.

services
Hey, you...Yes, you! Don’t you want to get your Discount?
binder1
binder2
Your discount will be
sent to the email!

I have read and agree to the Terms of Use, Money Back Guarantee, Privacy and Cookie Policy of BestCustomWriting.com

  • dmca_logo
  • safecharge
  • trustpilot

Use your opportunity to get a discount!

To get your special discount, write your email below

  • dmca_logo
  • safecharge
  • trustpilot

Best papers and best prices!

Want to get quality paper done on time cheaper?

  • dmca_logo
  • safecharge
  • trustpilot