Why are grammar skills important? In a word – professionalism. Yes, verbal slang and texting shorts are acceptable in certain situations, but in professional settings, your grammar skills can make or break you. If you want you and your brand to be viewed as reliable and professional, poor grammar will set you off in the wrong direction.
It’s a tough world out there for grammarians. Sometimes people are nervous speaking or writing to me. It’s like they assume I’m keeping a mental tally of how many times they misspeak or will I return their emails with corrections. I understand that no one wants to be corrected all the time or feel like they’re being judged just for speaking. As a fan of grammar, I do like to make sure my writing and speaking are correct, but even grammarphiles trip over their words sometimes. We even use spelling and grammar check features, just like everyone else! It’s true!
There are negative feelings that stem from both poor and outstanding grammar usage. Sometimes those who appreciate the use of good grammar are viewed as harsh or like they feel superior to others. Grammar fans are called the “Grammar Police” and viewed as snobs.
FYI, with the exception of my students and clients who have hired me for writing and proofreading services, I would never correct someone’s grammar. It is rude and degrading and, in my opinion, making another person feel belittled is a far greater offense. As someone who has studied how the English language has evolved, I am actually very appreciative of the creative use of language and different styles of speaking and writing.
In the same vein, comes an emphasis on spelling. Did you know there are studies that show there is NO significant link between intelligence and the ability to spell? The Sydney Morning Herald reported that there is research dating back to the 1970s stating there is no link. Spelling is a learned skill, just like grammar, playing an instrument, or playing tennis.
So why are grammar and spelling important?
Grammar Represents Your Brand’s Image.
The language you use verbally and in writing represent how you or your brand are viewed. Using excelling grammar spelling shows your audience that professionalism and attention to detail are part of your values. It is the first step in developing a trustworthy image. It shows your audience that you put in the time and effort to meet your obligations. Good grammar says “My work is excellent. You can trust my goods and services.”
On the other hand, poor grammar can hurt your image and make you seem like you or your company are not credible. It can hurt your reputation and your prospects of being hired as an employee or as a contractor. The Sydney Morning Herald shows research stating that recruiters found that poor spelling skills in the application process are just as detrimental to a candidate’s hiring prospects as a lack of relevant work experience. A global skills company called Communicaid states that four in ten application rejections can be attributed to poor spelling and grammar. Poor writing can keep an excellent candidate from even being considered for a position.
Good Grammar Helps You Get Your Point Across.
Complete understanding between parties is the key to good communication. Creating a clear message involves the use of proper grammar. Good grammar is necessary in order for your audience to understand our message. Grammar rules are shared between users of the same language so that we can communicate effectively.
Isn’t the content we create trying to do exactly that? Are you creating blogs, resumes, advertisements in order to communicate? We all know the “a panda eats shoots and leaves” joke. We’ve seen the confusing homonym and homophone examples like “the mail was delivered by a male,” or “the farm was used to produce produce.” Utilizing these tools for comedy is beneficial, but the skill in understanding how to avoid confusing errors and wording is necessary in order to clearly communicate your message to your audience. Immaculate grammar makes your content easier for your audience to read and understand. If they can’t understand you, they’ll find someone else to work with.
Language is a Powerful Tool.
Our words and our voice are how we make sense of the world. The human race creates so many things, good and bad. Art, music, and literature are built with the tools we have created. Language gives feeling and meaning to so many of these things. Language is how we illustrate meaning, whether it is describing the beauty and symbolism of a sunrise, or the pros and cons of an investment. We create meaning with language. Words are how we establish credibility, develop relationships, report data, bring about change, and find meaning in our lives. We can express so much with proper grammar and wording. A punctuation mark can mean the difference between questioning and understanding. A comma can be the difference between “let’s eat, grandma” and “let’s eat grandma.” Good grammar is a tool we can use to create meaning.
So What’s the Big Deal?
English, like anything else and every other language, is always evolving. We create about 14.7 new words in the English language every day. Do we all have to use the same words, phrasing, and formatting? Of course not! Innovation and creativity are what make our language evolve. We create new meaning with new wording. We can view grammar and spelling as the road map for communication. It is a guideline we use to get to the end result. The places we visit on the map may be different, some more exciting than others, but they can be found using the map. The meaning we create are the attractions. Whether you are writing for personal reasons, professional use, or as an art form, the tools of language are what create understanding. Your use of language should be intentional when representing yourself or your brand. Be intentional about what you are creating. Good grammar and spelling reflect that strength and art of the words we use.