Whatever Happened to Grammar?

January 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

Written By Marilyn Vollrath

I don’t mean Kelsey Grammer.  Everybody knows he’s alive and well, and planning his fourth wedding.

I’m talking about grammar, as in punctuation, language pattern, modifying phrases, syntax and all of the other elements that make a sentence make sense.  It’s the difference between getting the point and being lost in a twisted maze of words with no comprehension in sight. 

Speaking of “it’s,” no one seems to know the rules on that so they just guess and it’s (as in “it is”) usually wrong. The time to learn spelling and grammar is in grade school, but unfortunately many times the excitement of ideas and creativity are more important than the mundane details of punctuation.

I’m in the public relations business and my clients expect us to proofread news releases, annual reports and other communications going out under their name to thousands and thousands of readers. Proofread? Without a spell check? Just by looking at it? Yes, imagine that!  Every job has a challenge, and in the world of PR, this is a big one.

My point is that ideas and punctuation go hand in hand.  You can’t write a best-selling novel without a great story line.  But if you can’t spell and construct a sentence, no one will understand what you’re trying to say and there goes your chance to be number-one on The New York Times list.

How many resumes have you received with misspelled words, poor grammar and bad punctuation? Or emails with equally bad mistakes, from people who should know better?  All too many, I bet.  And what impression does that leave?  Not a good one, because strong, effective communications skills are what set successful leaders apart from the pack. 

So if grammar and spelling aren’t your strong suit, I encourage you to learn on your own.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.