The Role and Value of Grammar Knowledge for Professional Writers



Graham Shaughnessy, Madeline

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This thesis investigates the role and value of grammar knowledge for professional writers. Historically, composition scholarship has questioned the value of grammar knowledge and instruction, with little to no consideration of the specific needs of professionals. Consequently, professional writing programs lack research to justify the inclusion or exclusion of grammar instruction. To provide this needed research and define the role and value of grammar for professional writers, this thesis surveys composition and technical communication scholarship on grammar and presents interviews with 14 professional writers concerning their practice and perception of grammar in their daily writing and editing tasks. The participants describe how formal grammar knowledge enables them to better navigate complicated writing tasks and explain writing choices to others—particularly important abilities given the distinct needs, demands, and expectations of professional writing contexts. Therefore, professional writing programs should empower students with formal grammar knowledge by featuring grammar instruction in their curricula.



Grammar, Professional writers, Technical communication, Editing, Grammar instruction, Professional writing instruction