Poor Grammar

“If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.”

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why, by Kyle Wiens

(Note to self: Pay more attention to punctuation and overall grammar. #mustgetbetter)

10 Comments leave a comment below

  1. It’s funny because people think the internet has “dumbed down” grammar, but I find it to be the opposite. I see grammar mistakes pointed out immediately in comments on blogs whatever the topic. Often times improper grammar on a blog is used as a ridiculing weapon against that blogger. If I don’t proofread a post and send it out to my readers and there is a mistake in grammar, I will probably hear about it. Thanks for posting this – shared the original article on FB.

  2. I agree with the author that clarity is always important. However, as long as the meaning of the utterance is not in jeopardy, obsessing this much about the correct placement of commas is pointless and quite stupid. If this sort of thing is important for him, I wouldn’t want to work for him, anyway.

  3. Not knowing the definition of a word is not “bad grammar.” Misspelling words (e.g., “it’s” for “its”) is not “bad grammar.” Not mastering the fine points of punctuation is not “bad grammar.” Grammar comprises syntax, structure, and semantics.

    I make my living in the world of words. I know my way around several stylebooks and usage guides. Nevertheless, I get mightily annoyed by sanctimonious screeds like the one in HBR. English is not an easily learned language, and most “rules” are just fashion and convention. (Read a century-old usage guide and you’ll see what I mean.) Let’s focus on clarity and concision in written communication and not waste everyone’s time with fuzzy logic about “grammar.”

  4. Mmmmm. The url for that article is:

    http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/i_wont_hire_people_who_use_poo.html

    I think being so strict about grammar is more than a bit over the top. But I agree about not hiring people “who use poo.”

  5. @truebluemeandyou

    There was recently a survey, which looked at the grammar skills of university-beginners in germany.

    The results, the answers from professors of 135 universities were such critical on philological abilities of their students, that they decicded not to publish the whole study.

    Out of question, in words of the initiator, Gerhard Wolf, is the good standart in media competence, usage of internet and the like.

    It surprised me, I thought, like you, that the use of the internet, would enhance grammar skills. This indicates it may be the other way round.

    (I apologize for my crude english)

  6. I actually have to say that the internet hasn’t made things better, as far as I’ve seen. I do agree that many mistakes are pointed out, but on far fewer sites than you might think.

    Take a look at some YouTube comments and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

  7. I think, criticizing ones grammar is kind of equal to taking ones freedom away.

  8. }}}} Not knowing the definition of a word is not “bad grammar.” Misspelling words (e.g., “it’s” for “its”) is not “bad grammar.” Not mastering the fine points of punctuation is not “bad grammar.” Grammar comprises syntax, structure, and semantics.

    You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Misspelling words (e.g., “it’s” for “its”) is not “bad grammar.”
    Ummm, that’s not “misspelling words” — it’s not comprehending the proper structure of a sentence… i.e., the grammar.

    “It’s” is a pronoun-verb contraction, and cannot possibly be structurally confused with “its”, a simple possessive pronoun. If you misuse one for the other, then your structure is WRONG, and your grammar is incorrect.

    I try not to be a “grammar Nazi”, it’s often considered bad form, but I don’t hesitate to use it when confronted by some nitwit GN who has grammar and spelling errors in their own comments.

    But it’s primarily this social convention that creates the issue of not correcting people, not a failure to spot a lot of them.

    }}} I make my living in the world of words.
    Why am I not surprised?

    }}}} I know my way around several stylebooks and usage guides. Nevertheless, I get mightily annoyed by sanctimonious screeds like the one in HBR

    I, on the other hand, get annoyed by sanctimonious screeds like ones from so-called “language professionals” who think precision in expression isn’t relevant. This includes when they don’t even grasp the difference between misspelling a word and corrupting the basic structural underpinning of what they are attempting to say.

    Just because people can make up for your sloppiness of thought and expression does not mean the sloppiness is unimportant and not deleterious to proper expression or communication.

    You should aim to be precise and carefully choose your words and expressions to carry the full meaning you wish to convey. Settling for “good enough” is an occasional business requirement, not a life goal.

    Precision in usage is relevant. I’ll let the tale of the murderously hungry Panda make the more advanced case:
    Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

  9. P.S., I actually tend to agree that he’s a bit over the top. But there’s a tremendous difference between taking a harshly absolute view of the value of proper grammar and spelling and taking it as insignificant.

    Saying “I try and fail” is one thing. Saying “I don’t give a rodent’s patootie” is an abrogation of your basic need to communicate properly.

  10. What, an as home.

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