Reports of the Death of Grammar are Greatly Exaggerated


Grammar_4Paraphrasing the famous quote by Mark Twain on his reported death is an appropriate way to begin this blog. With tweeting and texting often considered the new-normal way of communicating quickly, you may wonder why anyone still cares about proper grammar, correct spelling, punctuation and syntax. Despite the shorthand uses of words and phrases, however, it is still important to use proper grammar and punctuation when writing and speaking. Why?  To begin with, proper grammar captures your readers or listeners’ attention as they concentrate on what you have to say and not your mistakes.

No matter what language you use to speak or write, using correct grammar not only helps you communicate more effectively and precisely, but also helps you avoid embarrassment. Globally, the proper use of grammar shows that the speaker or writer is an educated person who understands the subtleties of the language. Conversely, grammatical errors can indicate that you are not focusing on your words or, that perhaps you do not understand the mechanics of your own language.

Some grammar errors lead to sentences that mean something, just not what you intended. For example, misplacing the modifier “only” could lead to this sentence: “I only drive to work and back.” If you meant that you never walk to work, nor take a subway, great. However, if you meant that the only route you ever drive is the one between your house and your company headquarters, and you never drive anywhere else, then you should have said, “I drive only to work and back.”

Even if your grammar is good enough to make others understand what you mean, constant errors might give them the impression that you are not paying attention to what you are saying or writing. Even if they otherwise would think highly of your words, your errors might simply distract them. Good grammar keeps your readers or listeners focused on what you have to say.

Perhaps most importantly of all, in formal communications, such as a company’s annual report, one or more of your shareholders may be a retired English teacher who still remembers the explicit rules as well as the nuances of English grammar.  Offend her, and she may sell her stock and make a fuss at your annual shareholders’ meeting. Please her, and she may buy hundreds more of your shares and tweet about your company’s attention to detail to her 985,302 Twitter followers.

This post written by J&A account executive, Pat Rarus.

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