I ain’t even seen them emails

Bad grammar is like bad breath, just because no one says anything doesn’t mean that no one noticed…..Jane Watson.

RECEIVING EMAILS THAT ARE WRITTEN ALL IN CAPS is one well-known and often talked about “e-peeve”. But poor grammar, which is something many of us don’t like to talk about, is a silent communication (and reputation) killer.

Like it or not people make judgments about how we speak and when we communicate electronically, how we write is a pretty good indicator of how we speak. Using incorrect grammar can send an impression of carelessness, suggest a lack of education, indicates poor social skills, and even imply low intelligence. And, people also make determinations about our social status on the basis of how we choose and use our words.

The general attitude these days, especially among those who use email a lot for business communications is that “everyone is too busy to care” This attitude has become an excuse for being lazy, (writing experts suggest that 30% of people don’t even use spell check and it’s right there – easy and available with a click of a button). Whatever the reason, poor communication ends up costing time, money, and in some cases…it can cost you your relationships or reputation.

The English language can be complicated and the truth is that most North Americans, unless they study English after grade school, forget much of the basic grammar they learned by the time they are 25 years old. Unfortunately, the only way to improve your grammar is to review the rules and then practice them so improving your grammar has to be conscious choice. Because the English language is broad and because there are so many rules, some of which can be very confusing, you’re best to choose 1-2 grammar issues to work on at a time. For example, communication experts suggest that the most common grammatical errors are:

1        Using “it” without indicating what “it” refers to.

2        Writing sentence fragments, that is incomplete thoughts (the spell checker won’t catch these errors so remember to do a grammar check too)

3        Mixing up singular and plural pronouns, e.g., Every person wanted their books delivered. (Person is singular so the sentence should be written, everyone wanted his/her books delivered.)

4        Using caps on word that do not need to be capitalized.

Grammar is the study of rules governing the use of language. The set of rules governing a particular language is the grammar of that language; thus, each language can be said to have its own distinct grammar. Grammar is part of the general study of language called linguistics. Grammar is a way of thinking about language. www.wikipedia.org

Of course it’s a good idea to use Spell Check on both documents and emails before you send them out but be careful, because most spell checkers only catch about 40% of errors. For example some common errors that slip past the spell checker are:

It’s for its (It’s always means “it is”, its is possessive form of its)

  1. There for their or they’re. “There” indicates location or proximity, “they’re” means “they are” and their is a plural pronoun.
  2. “Two” and “too”. Two is a number. Too means in addition to, or also.
  3. Who’s and Whose. Who’s is the contraction for “who is.” Whose is the possessive of “who.”
  4. You’re/Your. “You’re” is the contraction of “you are”. “Your” is the possessive of “you.”
  5. A lot is two words.
  6. Spell Check often won’t catch misspelled names, e.g., Mari instead of Mary
  7. Spell Check often won’t catch incorrectly written compound words, e.g., can not instead of cannot.
  8. Spell Check often won’t catch incorrect verb tenses, e.g., if you write “seen” (past tense) when you should have written “saw”.
  9. Spell Check often won’t catch incorrect usage, e.g., when you wrote pare and really meant pair, or effect and should have really written affect.

Just for fun, try this exercise:

Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer

Eye halve a spelling chequer

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marques four my revue

Missteaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight four it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

Iam shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect in it’s weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

~ Anonymous