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When debating with someone about how to write eloquently, I argued that one needs to learn grammatical structures so that grammar comes easily when writing, but he said that one should focus on content. But I think that no matter how much content you generate, you still need to have a large grammatical repertoire, so that your final draft will sound good.

What do you think?

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The not-so-simple answer is both.

The key to answering this completely is to identify the audience to which the material is directed. If your target audience consists of hyper-vigilant grammar police, then a misplaced comma will, at best, give them something to complain about, and, at worst, cause them to abandon the material altogether. If, on the other hand, the audience hungers for well-defined characters and intricate plotting, and the only thing that you can point to in your material is excellent craft in grammar, spelling, and sentence structure, the audience will move on to something that meets their needs.

Without knowing the specifics of target audience, there is no way to answer the question. If you understand the target audience, then you should already know what the answer is.

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While grammatical marks certainly indicate eloquence on the part of the writer (if they are used properly), it is debatable whether a character is eloquent from grammar alone.

It is best to start with the definition of the word which you and your colleague are discussing:

Eloquence comes from the Latin preposition ex (out of) + the Latin deponent verb loquor (to speak) = to speak out. And with this etymological background we come to understand that eloquence is certainly something that has to do with speaking rather than grammar; however, eloquence taking shape as language used in a way that comes out of the speaker, rather eloquence is tAking shape as language brought out by the speaker’s volition, meaning the speaker uses his words with precision and concision. I state such a redundancy to stipulate that there is no doubt about eloquence when it appears because it is speech used so precise, but in order for readers and listeners to understand that language must be brought out in accordance with established rules of logic and grammar, for indeed these are the only ways in which we can even understand the speakers.

To sum up: eloquence is speech used precisely and the grammatical component of eloquence is necessary, as it is the manner in which we as reader or listeners can understand at all what was said or being said.

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