The truth of the matter is that worrying about grammar, especially when we're writing, can do more harm than good. In other words, we should focus on getting our ideas out first and worry about grammar later (in fact, checking our grammar should be the last thing we do to the document). We always caution participants in our classes to avoid correcting their grammar as they write, because doing can change their focus from content, which involves high-level critical thinking, to a task that doesn't involve critical thinking. In other words, worrying about grammar can be a distraction.
We've all been taught grammar "rules" and, for some of us, these rules are not to be broken under any circumstances, lest the grammar police swoop down and take our documents or our seventh-grade English teacher find out and call us on the carpet.
But some grammar rules, believe it or not, were invented for the convenience of the teacher and aren't based on logic. For instance, why is beginning a sentence with "and" or "but" a "bad" thing to do? Why should we not end our sentences with prepositions? And who says that a paragraph has to be five sentences? What if it takes more than five sentences to get your point across? Sometimes, breaking these "rules" makes good sense and creates a cleaner, easier to read document.
Consider that when we give an idea or concept its own sentence, we give it weight, or importance. Readability studies tell us that what's first in the sentence is what readers believe is most important. In the following sentence, I can emphasize by beginning the sentence with "but":
- Sally wanted to go to work. But the bus was late.
The sentence doesn't have the same emphasis if I combine the two:
- Sally wanted to go to work, but the bus was late.