Grammar continues to be important skill in real world
Out of My Mind
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 5:27 AM
As a writer and as a former aspiring English teacher, proper grammar has been a priority in my life for a long time. I had wonderful teachers who taught me the basic skills, an employer who trained me to use the appropriate style in writing newspaper articles and I continue to be an avid reader, all of which have provided me with a pretty solid writing talent.
In my profession as an editor and journalist, grammar and writing skills are very important, but one may not realize those same skills are just as important if you are in any other profession.
I recently read an article in the Rochester Post-Bulletin by Kristen Asleson that said just that - grammar is a highly important skill in the workforce.
She wrote, "Grammar, spelling and punctuation are relevant in all companies. Using good grammar indicates credibility. How many times have you received a written or electronic correspondence, spied the error or errors and all of a sudden you begin to think differently about the person who sent it?"
Asleson admitted that if she knew the sender, she would likely return the correspondence with corrections made. She didn't do it to be a "grammar snob," but rather out of concern and to help them in their profession.
She also pointed out how important grammar and spelling are when starting one's career.
"If you are looking for a job or are new to a job, correct use of grammar and spelling indicates more than you just remembering what you learned in school. It gives your employer a clue as to how you will perform your tasks that require details," she continued.
Asleson shared that she has a friend who requires her employees to take a grammar and spelling test before hiring them. She has found that the employees who score better on the assessment make fewer mistakes in all aspects of their job, not just writing or correspondence.
While Asleson did not mention it, I believe we have also become much more casual in our business and professional correspondence as our social media and electronic interactions are so relaxed.
Improper abbreviations, acronyms and poor sentences are posted for all to see. Shortcuts such as LOL, TGIF, SWAK, TTFN and BFF have made their way into the mainstream.
A college friend of mine, now a college professor herself, recently shared she had received an essay from a student that read more like a code than an essay. She gave the student an A for texting vocabulary, but a D on the actual paper. The sad thing was the student couldn't understand why her professor didn't understand the point of her essay.
I'm the worst when it comes to text messaging. I don't use any abbreviations, spelling everything out. This led to problems when there were character limits on each text message you sent.
Of course, you must know by that admission that I am not one to "Tweet" either. With a limit of 140 characters I can't even begin to write a sentence.
With more automated writing programs equipped with grammar and spelling check capabilities, I think many of us have become lazy in our attention to detail. I've learned the hard way that a word may technically be spelled correctly, but it's not really the word that was meant to be there.
Asleson used the expample that a simple typo can critically change the meaning of a sentence, as in this example: "We plan to sue your business" compared to "We plan to use your business." No spelling or grammar software will catch that error.
She concluded by saying, "Paying attention to the rules of grammar and proper punctuation will help establish a positive impression when developing client relationships, impressing your boss and communicating with co-workers and vendors. I do not believe I am the only one noticing these errors. Other people do notice and they are probably people that matter way more than I."
I am not perfect when it comes to grammar - I struggle with the proper use of lay, lie, layed and lain; have issues when using its and it's; can never remember the exceptions to the rule "i before e except after c" and am never sure when I should use who or whom in a sentence.
I can no longer remember how to diagram a sentence, couldn't tell you the technical definitions of a participle or prepositional phrase and I'm probably guilty of dangling modifiers.
However, when writing, I do my best to pay attention to spelling and sentences that are easily readable. For the rest of it, I am grateful to my master proofreaders who catch what I miss and fix my improper uses of it's!