Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Grammar Does Matter

I'm constantly amazed by the sloppy way people use email in the business world. I'm not sure why such little effort goes into basic emails. Could be because it is just too easy, and has become so routine, that no extra thought goes into it. While I admit I may be a bit too tough when it comes to expectations as far as grammar and phrasing are concerned, I still think there should be some minimum standards for anyone sending business email.

Everyone that uses email on a regular basis in their career should realize that sending out an email with blatant grammar errors truly does reflect on their professionalism. Email has become a crucial part of building a business relationship, and it helps you form your opinions about people. Not too long ago I received an email from someone who used "hear" when they should have used "here". It was one of my first contacts with the person, and it leapt off the screen at me. I have to admit, it did factor into my overall opinion of the person's business savvy, attention to detail, and their intelligence.

I do admire people who can write effectively, yet also casually enough that it seems as though they were just speaking the words. I struggle with this a bit; maybe I'm focused too much on getting the wording exactly right. However, I do see some people take this "style" to the extreme. Run-on sentences...half-finished thoughts trailing into each other...excessive use of aposiopesis ...casual to the point of being unreadable...

I'm not sure that correct grammar is always a black and white issue, since in many instances there can be more than one way to correctly write the same thing. Although I'm not sure I agree with everything on these pages, here are a few interesting places to brush up on your grammar:

10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid

Dodge the grammar traps

Most Annoying Grammar Mistakes in English

Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb


Kathy said...

Susan -- I 100% agree with you. As much as people think I'm being too harsh, I do think poor grammar and sentence structure reflects on a person's intelligence. In business communications, it's even more important.

Getting its vs. it's and there vs. their incorrect really bothers me. But I feel it's a losing battle. There are too many people who feel it's OK to write like that. When I point it out, I'm accused of being the grammar police and that saddens me. What to do?

Susan said...

Kathy: I heard one today that I can't believe I didn't include on that post: irregardless. And it was used by an intelligent, well-spoken attorney giving a presentation to a large professional group. I actually groaned aloud when he said it, and from the look the person next to me gave me she had no idea why. My theory on that one is that in 20 years it will actually just become the word that everyone thinks it is!

Anonymous said...

Your grammar could use improvement. You should have said: "Everyone who uses email...".
People in glass houses should buy curtains. :-P