Is Korrect Speling and Grammer Still Importint

the importance of spelling and grammarThe title of the post no doubt caught your eye—and you, like me, may have noticed an increasing number of spelling and grammar errors in content published both in print and on the web. Despite a seemingly increasing disregard for polished writing, I contend that it’s more important than ever to maintain high standards in the way we present our written material.

With the advent of short-form communication platforms like text messaging and Twitter, there’s been an explosion in the use of abbreviation and acronyms—plus, elements like correct spelling, punctuation and grammar seem to be in danger of being forgotten. Sure, it’s natural for language to evolve and for regular texters and tweeters to develop shortcuts to make their lives easier. That being said, I think we should be wary of accepting this as the norm.

I admit to being an old-fashioned sort of man. And if you’ve seen my post Would You Let Your Daughter Marry A Blogger?, you’ll soon see the angle from which I’m coming. I’m not one of those grammar pedants who scream every time an apostrophe is misplaced, but I do feel that we can let ourselves down if we ignore these small but vital details.

Whether you’re writing for your business or blogging for fun, paying attention to the basics should be an integral part of your approach. Here’s why:

Authority

I visited a website today (I won’t name names) and, in the first paragraph, I came across a spelling mistake and two glaring grammatical errors. At that point it didn’t really matter to me what I was reading; instead, I simply assumed that the writer didn’t know what he or she was talking about, closed the page and went back to the search results to try somewhere else. You are unlikely to consider someone as an authority in a particular field if that person can’t even check copy before publishing.

Clarity

In today’s increasingly noisy digital landscape, we all need to be clear in what we say. A simple mistake can change the meaning of words—often with amusing (or worse, potentially disastrous)—consequences for a business. Interested in a few cringe-inducing examples? Look no further than the Spelling Disasters Blog!

Distraction

Reading someting with spellimg mistaks can be distrakting and stop you from absorbbing the information.  Whoops—sorry! I meant to say that reading something with spelling mistakes can be distracting and stop you from absorbing the information. I rest my case.

 Credibility

If you’re reading something peppered with glaring mistakes, do you feel that the writer is knowledgeable and has thoroughly researched the topic? I certainly don’t—plus,  I’m more likely to think the piece has been dashed off quickly and without any care.

Confidence

We all consume content for a variety of reasons—to learn, to be entertained and even to find prospective service providers, clients or vendors. Should you come across information written by that person or company that’s riddled with errors, you’re likely to have decreased confidence in their ability to perform the work you need.

What do you think? Do you feel that writing standards are slipping and that this is a vital area on which we should continue to concentrate?

Tony Hastings is a blogger and the man behind The Top 10 Blog, a place where you will hopefully be informed, entertained and amused with articles about all sorts of topics, particularly those relating to social media and technology. Feel free to connect with Tony on Twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin.

Image by Gamma Man via Creative Commons

  • Stephanie

    I could not agree more. I’ve also completely given up and closed an
    article after seeing spelling and grammatical errors. I just can’t take
    it seriously! I shared this on my Facebook and someone immediately commented on how everything has spell check now. Yes, we have spell-check now but
    that does not check for things like then vs. than or
    their/there/they’re. These kinds of mistakes instantly downgrade
    credibility and authority. I could not agree more.

    I don’t think that, just
    because the trend as of lately has been to abbreviate things and get
    sloppy with our writing, means that’s how the future has to be. I text
    people will full words and sentences and don’t abbreviate. With
    smartphones now there’s plenty of space for full words and we don’t need
    to abbreviate the way we used to! Which is a beautiful thing. I think
    soon we will be able to move away from it completely, which would be great! This does not mean writing standards is not still a valuable area on which we should continue to concentrate.

  • http://www.thetop10blog.com/ Tony Hastings

    Thanks for the comment Stephanie, I’m so glad you are of a like mind. I take pride in never abbreviating texts although I don’t send that many, if I did maybe I would slip into those bad habits.

    And yes we do all have spell checks but it is good to be able to think for ourselves too, that’s why I still like to read a map and ignore the satnav :-)

  • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

    Good article Tony and while I also agree I can’t stand posts that have just poor English or grammar, I also am not a great expert myself in grammar and sentence structure. We are also seeing journalism fall with many CNN and other major news stories (especially online editions) having mistakes in their spelling blatantly in titles or the articles themselves. Proofreading seems to be something from the past.

    I do think the younger generation though doesn’t care as much, and I have seen some posts with crazy bad grammar and English still rank very well. This is because there are billions of International users online, many with English as a second language, they write on blogs and know passable English but have trouble with grammar and sentence structure, the visitors also read it not knowing the areas that are incorrect.

    As everything goes global more like it or not, but grammar mistakes will be the new norm especially for ESL bloggers or ones that hire ESL writers for their sites. That being said, my 8 year old writes on his blog occasionally, I know he has grammar mistakes and errors but I let him blog and point them out so he can learn as he writes.

    Remember many websites are now being read with Google Translate and other translate tools, they don’t do a good job of interpreting grammar and just the language itself readable. I see Google Translate and others as a referrer on my Google Analytics, translating my articles to Italian, French…etc do I think these articles would translate with good structure in those languages (nope), vice versa for translating articles in other languages to English.

  • Mike Padgett

    When I encounter spelling or grammatical errors in a news story, I stop reading. Such sloppiness makes me wonder about factual errors. The proliferation of errors in news stories today is due, in part, to downsizing of newsrooms. Fewer editors and proofreaders means more mistakes making their way into web and print stories. The upswing in sloppy reporting often leads to a decline in readership. Which leads to more downsizing of newsrooms, and the cycle continues.

  • http://www.thetop10blog.com/ Tony Hastings

    Good points about international readers and translations Justin. I agree too about (some of) the younger generation, perhaps this is just a natural progression in the evolution of language.

    I still though think that there is a strong argument for preserving good standards and good practices rather than us all joining in.

    Many thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughtful comment.

  • http://www.thetop10blog.com/ Tony Hastings

    Good point Mike, I don’t have any personal experiences of how newsrooms work but I can imagine that is a trend that could be happening. Hopefully there are still many true professionals around who will fight to maintain standards.

  • http://twitter.com/HurogGirl Patti Ludwig

    I’m torn. On the whole, I agree that there is a real need to use correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, all the mechanics of writing as a communication tool. My fifth grade teacher did a demonstration to show why clear handwriting matters that has stuck with me for *gulp* more than forty years now, and can be extrapolated to go with “Let’s eat grandpa!” for the lesson of “Yes, you DO need to learn where commas go!”

    However.

    Languages change and evolve. English, to paraphrase someone or other, isn’t a language that borrows words from other languages so much as mugs them, drags them into back alleys, steals their shoes, and wallets, and feels them up. Otherwise you would mouses in your houses or mice in your hice, rather than mice in your houses.

    Shakespeare himself didn’t seem to care how he spelled his name, as long as the idea got through.

    There are many, many places and times where precision is important, and I prefer it in language use unless it’s making a point.
    Anyone else remember mumblety years ago when someone ran the Gettysburg Address through a grammar program, and it flattened the thing? Anyone here hear about the general during WWII who replied to some kind of “surrender or die” ultimatum with “Nuts!” What would correct grammar – per our current standards – do to either of those stirring pronouncements? Or Churchill’s “We shall fight them in the trenches, we shall fight them on the beaches…”
    Shoot, run the Bible through a grammar program and watch the poetry turn into dreary nonsense, pointing up the dreadful behavior of the people we are supposed to think were paragons.

    Try to use “different than” rather than “different from” – which was the only correct usage when Robert Heinlein wrote “The Number of the Beast” and feel how awkward it is.

    Language use changes.

    There is room for more than one dialect in most minds. Remembering which to use for what venue is the tricky part. The difficulty, I believe, is that it’s almost literally turning into an issue of class speech, and the ‘equality’ laws are encouraging it, as far as I can see. Otherwise, people who come from solid WASP middle class backgrounds wouldn’t be axeing questions, rather than asking them.

  • http://www.thetop10blog.com/ Tony Hastings

    You make some good points Patti. As I say I’m not a stickler for correct grammar and of course language will continue to evolve. I do though think that there is a case for continuing to get the basics right so that any evolution proceeds in an orderly manner.

    Many thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  • http://joshhumble.com/ Josh Humble

    There’s certainly a time and place for creative writing, speaking, and the creative morphing of words to make an intentional point. The problem is the mindless or unknowing misuse of our language. This is an essential for anyone – good, clear communication. I’ve had far too many people tell me there’s little or no emphasis on written communication in our schools. But then, with the lack of caring in our culture, what’s a hard-nosed curriculum in our schools really going to accomplish if many students don’t desire clear, well-formed communication? After all, we can study hard to make that test score, but if we’re not truly embracing the lessons and, making them a part of our life, good grammar goes away.

    As with anything, know the rules before we break them – IF we break them at all.

  • http://www.thetop10blog.com/ Tony Hastings

    Good point Josh, it may well be that over time the basics will be lost if the generations coming through have neither the will to learn the rules or the opportunity to apply them.

    Perhaps we will see the erosion of standards accelerating and poor spelling and grammar becoming the norm. I’ll still keep fighting the good fight in my little corner of the world and maybe if enough of us do that then all is not lost.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughtful comment Josh.

  • http://joshhumble.com/ Josh Humble

    I’m with you, Tony – the only way to keep our communication from dwindling into an incomprehensible form is to promote awareness of its breakdown, and how we can do better. As for bloggers, we all need to know our craft to the best of our ability, and to edit, edit, edit.

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