Friday, August 5, 2011

Grammar Matters

Last weekend, I was chatting with a couple of my friends, and we got on the topic of grammar in today’s society. I started feeling this passionate emotion rising up within me, and I began to sincerely fear the demise of grammar as history keeps progressing. As an editor and a writer, I not only feel obligated but also feel driven to bring this significant issue to your attention.

Ah, grammar: the rules of building a sentence, the purpose of punctuation, the framework within which ideas and opinions and passions are so effectively presented. I love grammar. I am passionate about grammar.

Here are the two main reasons why grammar is so important:

  •          Grammar enables our writing to be most easily understood; grammar provides a means for the writer to explain him/herself clearly, minimizing reader confusion.

  •          When you utilize proper grammar, you will be both taken seriously and respected in the professional world.

Do you want to be understood? 

Do you want to be respected and taken seriously?

The two main issues that grammar is contending with today are:

·         The proliferation of communication short-forms (such as e-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and any kind of online chatting)

·         The ease and ability of publishing on the Internet. Anyone can blog, put up a web site, write about whatever they want, and none of them require an editor to do so.

Grammar has a hard time being respected while facing these two issues. I mean, sure, when you text your friends, not capitalizing “I” is not a major problem. When you e-mail your dad to tell him about your Mexico vacation, you probably aren’t checking to see if the cities you visited were properly spelled. When you comment on someone’s Facebook status or tweet about what you are doing, there are no grammar police who will arrest you if you don’t punctuate your sentences (although if there was such a job available, I would probably consider applying).

There’s obviously a balance here. What I am concerned about is the younger generation, so proficient in chatting and tweeting and texting and all the related short forms like LMAO and LOL and whatever the newest one is—I don’t know—that they start to believe that proper grammar really isn’t that important and really doesn’t have a place in modern-day (or postmodern-day) society. They aren’t required to be grammatically correct in 90% of what they communicate, so they don’t practice grammar. They think to themselves, “It don’t matter.”

Grammar does, though! It does have a place! It does matter!

If you have a passion, or a dream, or a strong opinion, or generally something important to say to the world, do you want to be heard?

Do you want to be understood?

Do you want to be respected and taken seriously?

My dear readers, you will lose credibility if the writing on your web site is full of spelling mistakes and typos. You will not be given the respect you deserve if you talk about your passions using misspoken phrases (“I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less”) or the wrong tense in the wrong place (“I lied down” instead of “I lay down”). You may not get your point across with the clarity your dreams deserve if you don’t know how to properly construct a sentence and use grammar to your advantage.

Your dreams and passions are worth the grammar needed to help people understand them and respect you!

Don’t fall asleep during your English or Grammar classes, wondering what the deal is about dangling modifiers, thinking that they don’t really matter. Don’t forget to edit the e-mail you send your boss about summer vacation because a professional e-mail does warrant review and proper grammar, and your boss should respect you more for it. Don’t sell yourself short or allow the causes that you want to pursue to lose the impact they deserve because you think that grammar doesn’t matter.

What you believe in is important; the way you express what you believe in is just as important.

Now let's say you are a self-proclaimed “horrible speller,” or you really don't care to know when to use "there" and "their," or you cannot be convinced that anything other than a regular old hyphen should be used to separate phrases (ahem...em and en dashes). That's OKI've long since realized that grammar dorks such as myself are few and far between everyone else. 

If you would rather focus your attention on your own personal dreams than trudge through a grammar text, that's fine! All I am suggesting is that you understand grammar's importancethe significant role it plays in your credibilityand utilize the services of editors (like me) to make your ideas, arguments and stories shine. If I could assist even one person in making his or her ideas clearer, arguments more efficiently presented, passions more vigorous and dreams more graceful, then I would feel fulfilled. 

Why? Grammar matters.


  1. And this is why people should hire editors like you (along with paying attention to their grammar)!!! :)

  2. When I screen resumes, grammar, punctuation and spelling errors plays highly into my thoughts about the resume. I don't care if you have your MBA in engineering, if you can't proofread, you won't get through me!

  3. I love grammar, too! :) Although, I will admit to proofing my own work and sometimes missing typos. I hate going back and finding mistakes in my writing. I was horrified recently to hear that there are some schools that have decided grammar doesn't matter anymore and aren't teaching it at all! This is so upsetting to me!!

  4. Great post! I love grammar. This is one of the reason we borrow "School House Rock" videos from our local library. :)I believe it should be a priority to learn and understand proper grammar.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Brenna - I didn't know that about some schools dropping grammar. That just reinforces my point! Excuse me while I pick up my jaw off the floor!