Grammar is Who You Are

Well, first of all, I have to say that I’m not a native speaker, so I accept that I have some grammar mistakes in my English articles. However, it is something I cannot tolerate in Turkish. When I see a grammar mistake somewhere, especially on the internet, the page suddenly loses its credibility in my mind.

Grammar is one of the criteria showing how educated you are, how much effort you put in a work and how much you care about your public profile. For this reason, I read several times what I write. When I happen to have some grammar mistakes somewhere, sometime, I really feel ashamed because it is not who I am!

I do not know if you feel the same or not; I know that some people agree with me. Kyle Wiens who writes for Harvard Business Review, has a great article telling the importance of grammar. I paste the parts that I find most interesting. You can always read the whole article by clicking the link at the bottom:

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.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

About the author: Kyle Wiens is CEO of iFixit, the largest online repair community, as well as founder ofDozuki, a software company dedicated to helping manufacturers publish amazing documentation.

Click here to read the whole article.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mariana on August 14, 2012 at 22:09

    Just one spelling mistake: I do not know if you fell the same or not (feel)
    Nice article! 🙂


  2. Great artcile, and spot on.

    3 suggestions for improvement of the grammar (not criticism, as you pointed out that you’re not a native speaker 😉 ).

    1) The first sentence should have a comma instead of a semicolon.
    2) In the third sentence the article is missing- it should be “…especially on THE internet”
    3) This sentence: “I do not know if you feel the same or not, I know that some people agree with me.” consists of two separate statements that should either be connected (e.g. “… or not, BUT I know…”) or separated by a semicolon (“…or not; I know …”.

    (Having just been that pedantic, I am almost certain that there must be some grammatical errors in this comment too… 😉 )


  3. Reblogged this on Digital cultures and translation and commented:
    It may seem a little radical but I believe it this to be quite true. In a world where every single one of us wants to unleash the writer within, we need to ensure that grammar does not lose its primordial place in the language. As the editor of an online blog, I receive a lot of submissions from native English speakers that leave me close to tears. It’s quite a shame. Someone needs to take on the role of grammar custodian. 🙂


  4. Posted by Elijah Rise on August 15, 2012 at 11:57

    I’d spell Harvard with a v, and not w. ))


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