Why should grammar matter?

This query landed in my inbox the other day:

“What you doing?”

You mean, “what are you doing?”

There’s still some uncertainty as to whether or not this was just a simple mistake … but come on, create some grammatical cohesiveness. You’re better than an absent verb.

Now, I’m no ace when it comes to grammar and punctuation. A former coworker once called me “Comma Girl” because I used WAY too many commas in my stories, and one of the best editors I worked with even told me, “Take a few minutes to read through your story and check for mistakes.” (Editors still tell me that, and I need to listen to them a little more. In fact, I just had a careless cut-and-paste mishap this morning.)

But when I go through emails, press releases and even a lot of the content I read online, the grammar and spelling mistakes jump out at me. The misspellings. The improper punctuation. The dangling participles. Yes, the dangling participles. But that’s bordering on grammatical zealotry.

Some days, I have the urge to go on Facebook and post a correction in the comments section of every mistake I see. Whether it’s “your” versus “you’re,” “sewn” versus “sown,” “parity” versus “parody,” “principal” versus “principle,” “hook-and-ladder” versus “hook and lateral” … oh, the horror of malapropisms.

Or using words whose meaning have nothing to do with the message that’s being sent. The worst offenders in sports writing: “So-and-so potted a goal” and “So-and-so plated two runs.”

You pot plants. You score goals. You plate food. You score runs.

Clean grammar, spelling and punctuation are reasons why copy editors and proofreaders are worth their weight in gold.

It’s why spellcheck (Or is it spell-check? Or spell check?) is actually a good thing. So is proofreading.

Have you ever seen the Facebook group titled “I judge you when you use poor grammar“? Yes. It’s true. We judge you. Your poor grammar and careless spelling are, in a certain sense, a reflection of you.

(And if you see any overt grammatical or vocabulary shortcomings in this post, please, let me know ASAP.)


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