Over the past couple of decades, I believe grammar has taken a beating–and not just in an “LOL” kind of way, but in a “I’m too lazy to learn the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’” kind of way. So when the CEO of iFixit.com stood up for grammar in a recent piece he wrote for the Harvard Business Review (“I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.“), I started applauding from my desk.
Grammar isn’t just something you learn just to appease your high school English teachers; it’s a valuable skill that more people should take seriously. And Kyle Wiens (iFixit’s CEO) really does an excellent job of explaining why:
But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.
Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.
On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?
Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.
Read Wiens’ full article on why he won’t hire people who use poor grammar here.
I believe that if more people in places of power speak out in support of strong grammar skills–and define it in these terms–then more folks will start to recognize how valuable good writers (who pay close attention to these kinds of details) really are.
It’s nice to know that this CEO gets it. And I applaud him for that.
More on Grammar: Looking to beef up on your grammar knowledge and set yourself apart from the many who don’t? Check out Grammar Girl’s article on The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang Ups (& How to Get Them Right).
Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Enjoy funny parenting blogs? Then you’ll love: The Life Of Dad
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter:
by Arlene Miller
A couple of years ago, former spelling bee champion Jeff Deck and his friend Benjamin Herson embarked upon The Great Typo Hunt, a road trip from coast to coast of the United States in which they located and corrected typos! The journey has now been made into a book
and a blog
. They found over 400 typos on their trip.
Now, you and I both know that these really were not all typos...a typo is when your fingers inadvertently hit the wrong key, right? For the most part, these are MISTAKES!!!!!
Well, as an editor, teacher, and author of The Best Little Grammar Book Ever
, I know a mistake when I see one. What do you think are some of the most common mistakes in grammar (spelling, punctuation, and usage)? My book covers a myriad of mistakes, but when I really think about it, there are a few mistakes that appear over and over and over again. I was hoping to give you a Top Ten List, but I think it is going to be a mere Top Four!
In no real particular order, here are the Top Four Grammar Mistakes of the Current Time
1. What is with that apostrophe in a plain old plural noun?
Here are my vacation photo’s! What?? Oh, you mean photos!!
There is NO apostrophe in a plural noun unless it is a number, letter, or symbol (a’s, 5’s, &’s
2. Doesn’t anyone know the difference between your
anymore, or are they just too lazy to use the apostrophe? (Hint: Take the apostrophe from the plural it doesn’t belong in!)
I hope your coming with us. Huh??? Oh, you mean you’re!
3. Just because you say “Harry and I are going to the movies,” you don’t have to use I
all the time. Sometimes it really is ME
! If the pronoun is a direct object, indirect object, or object of a preposition, you use me
He gave the tickets to my friend and I. Well, if he didn’t give the tickets to I, then he didn’t give the tickets to my friend and I either! Me is correct here.
4. YOU CANNOT SEPARATE TWO SENTENCES WITH A COMMA!!!!! (Oh, I am sorry...am I shouting?) You just can’t. It is called a comma splice.
I hope you can attend the meeting, it will be very productive. Sorry, no way. (Oh, is that a comma splice?) There are several ways to fix this:
I hope you can attend the meeting. It will be very productive.
I hope you can attend the meeting; it will be very productive.
I hope you can attend the meeting because it will be very productive.
Arlene Miller is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her business, bigwords101, provides grammar and business writing workshops to corporations and other groups. Her workshops use her book, The Best Little Grammar Book Ever