Writing is my passion, my vocation. I get to spend my days stringing words together on a page like beads on a necklace. And I couldn't be happier.
But have you ever noticed how the string is the most important part of a beaded necklace? When it’s in place all you see is iridescent jewelry. Break it, and you’re left with nothing but a pretty pile of colored rubble.
Words are like those beads. You need rules (grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation) to hold them all together. Funny how when you get it right no one says, “Wow, what great grammar you have.” But, make one mistake . . .
People can be so judgmental
Unfortunately, poor spelling and grammar tend to be associated with a lack of education or intelligence. At the very least, it is considered sloppy and unprofessional.
At best, spelling and grammar errors are signs of carelessness. At worst, they indicate inattention during education and/or a ‘who cares?’ attitude. Any of those can and perhaps should disqualify.”
Big trouble for marketers
It’s not just job seekers who suffer, either. A 2013 survey in the UK found 59% of respondents would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website. Meanwhile, K Creative (now part of storm from the east) found consumers hold the following attitudes:
- "I have to admit I will stop reading a website if I notice grammatical errors, and I actually become much more critical about the opinions of the site. That is how much it bothers me.”
- "Grammar and spelling errors are lazy, unprofessional and inexcusable.”
No quarter shown
You would think the grammar police would go easy on people communicating in a foreign language. But alas, the same UK study I mentioned earlier found that 82% of respondents would not use a company that had not correctly translated its material into English. And K Creative reports the prevailing view is, "If you are going to create a website in a foreign language, you are doing so in the hope of generating business from the market in which that language is used; therefore, you should show an equal amount of respect to the language and the people who use it.”
Moreover, foreign companies marketing to English-speaking audiences must contend with another reality about spelling and grammar:
- "Often, grammar is how we discern the phishing sites from real ones. Typos are one thing, blatant misuse or ignorance is another entirely.”
- "Virus-ridden/phishing/spam emails almost always have misspelled words and bad punctuation. Would you respond to those?”
The importance of good grammar
Personally, I find the grammar police uppity and condescending. But, I also recognize that language rules are important (inconsistent and often misinterpreted, but important). If you neglect or don't know English language rules it could cost you a job, a customer, or even millions of dollars.