Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Importance of Good Grammar & Punctuation

For as long as I can recall, proper use of the English language- both spoken and written has come easily to me. I don't profess to be the best writer by any means; doubtless there are numerous posts within this blog over the years that have grammatical errors. I would attribute those to a hastily written post more than a lack of technical knowledge. Some people struggle with using proper English on a daily basis, using poor grammar, incorrect use of words, and bad punctuation. I have been blessed with a good upbringing and excellent education so that I merely hear or see something to recognize it as incorrect. Being a voracious reader of books, I may have subliminally enhanced my knowledge of the English language further still.

This post is not written as a rant toward anyone in particular, but more from a point of view that I miss the days when using proper English mattered within our society. Our fast paced world of e-mail and texting has brought a host of abbreviations, acronyms and seemingly a loss for attention to detail. While these may be appropriate in a text, it frustrates me to see these trends creeping into formal written communications. I'm not sure what is worse, the fact people communicate poorly, or that they are not aware their grammar is so poor. Perhaps some people just do not care.

Case in point: I've been assisting a friend with recruiting and hiring for an open position for her company. I offered to sift through a few cover-letters and resumes, and be part of the interview panel. Throughout the process, I have been mortified by the quality of cover letters and resumes submitted for this position. Resumes with spelling errors, poor punctuation, and wrong use of words were common among the candidates. One person's cover letter read as follows:

"...During the first year I, killed my bosses and also her bosses number to. Everyone told me, how much better I was at it then my co-worker's before me did it".

Can you imagine? The errors within that are not only laughable but made me think about calling the police to report a murder confession. For a brief moment afterward I slipped into a gloomy state of mind, feeling as if our world was "going to hell in a hand-basket" as they say. Why is it that learning and using proper grammar is not valued anymore? 

Without a doubt I am a bit of an "old school" person; I still enjoy sending postcards, hand-written thank you notes and holiday cards. I realize that the world is changing and technology is moving very fast. I believe it is important for people to hold one another accountable to communicate properly. Parents need to teach and correct their children. Grandparents should set the example in their spoken word at home. Within the workplace, companies should train their employees to use professional business grammar, and not accept substandard communications.

All I ask is that people slow down a bit, try to use proper English to mean what you say and say what you mean. With that, Gentle Reader this post draws to a close. Thank you for reading this rant.
P.S. all corrections to grammar within this post are welcome!


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

oh my gosh you are so right rick! and the other day i re-read one of my own posts and found i had used a word incorrectly myself. and i knew better, i corrected it but then kept wondering how many people saw it.

smiles, bee

Judy (kenju) said...

I could not agree more!

I don't always write personal notes of thanks, but I did recently, and the person mentioned how wonderful it was to get a hand-written thank you, as they are so seldom written now.

© Karelian Blonde said...

English is not my first language and it never stops to amaze me how some colleagues or clients come to ask me for advice on grammar or spelling.

What has enhanced my written English over the years is by watching programs with teletext subtitles.

Good grammar and punctuation is like good manners, it does not cost anything ;)

Jeni said...

Anything handwritten by me is something very few folks will ever see -mainly because my handwriting skills are so bad these days -my fingers cramp and make the penmanship very illegible. But other than that, I think for the most part, you and I think very much alike about grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Not that I am perfect -as I know full well I am very, very far from that, but the point being to at least try to make things as best one can to being correct anyway. I really hate to be reading something and come across a word that has two (or even more) different spellings and the wrong one is being used because it really distorts my reading for a bit until I realize oh, they are writing about "this" and not "that" and don't realize this spelling may be changing the context completely!
Excellent post and it's too bad -especially with respect to resumes and cover letters in particular -that people pay so little attention there to those details. The one place that they are REALLY important!

Desert Songbird said...

Rick, Rick, and I are kindred spirits when it comes to this subject. I am appalled the poor quality of the written and spoken word of so-called educated adults. Believe me when I tell you, my children are chastised regularly by me when they use poor grammar!

WAT said...

I too am part of the grammar police. If you could only see the way some of co-workers write! IT IS SHOCKING!


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