Of course grammar matters! …and I suppose I could end this post right here. But why grammar matters has, perhaps, changed over the years.
The rules of grammar and syntax exist for reasons of clarification – if we all play by the rules, we should be able to communicate more effectively. Taking the time to use correct grammar also indicates a love and respect for the language.
Now, though, grammatical errors and poor or incorrect syntax are (lamentably) becoming more common – so common, in fact, that readers tend to overlook the errors or simply don’t care. With the enormous amount of informational, content-style writing around these days, the emphasis seems to be more on a conversational style than correct grammar.
Honestly, I have more faith in my readers’ intelligence than that. Perhaps this is because editors and writers are among my readers; but I know that many of them will not read an article or paragraph if the grammar is wrong and the syntax poor. I am one of these people myself – I have been known to chuck a letter if it has glaring grammatical errors in the first few sentences.
I like to think that correct, effective writing will stand out in the ever-growing sea of poor writing that’s out there.
In short, good grammar and proper syntax are always appropriate. Grammar still matters.