Thursday, March 05, 2009

English as a First Language

First off, I am a science and technology person, and we are not known for our writing abilities. Second, I am possibly the world's worst speller. With that said, let's talk about the proper use grammar, especially in a professional setting. While I am usually not a member of the grammar police, I can only sit on the sidelines for so long and watch the English language get butchered by its native speakers.

What spawned this tirade? I just read an email from a colleague and it was like trying to decipher an encrypted message. Seriously, think Charlie from Flowers for Algernon.

First up: spelling. Professional correspondence, and I do count work related emails as professional correspondence, should not contain spelling errors. It just looks sloppy. Spell check is your friend. Most email and word processing programs have a spell check function. Use it. However, don't forget that spell check is only a first line defense. Always proof read your writing before you hit send. Spell check will sometimes make some interesting changes. Keep a dictionary handy or use an online dictionary if you are unsure of how something is spelled.

My personal grammar related pet peeve is misplaced apostrophes. Learn the difference between plural and possessive. Hint: the possessive form uses the apostrophe. For example, the room has two computers, not the room has two computer's.

Homonyms. Use the correct form of the word. For example, to/too/two and their/there/they're. If you're (note that I didn't say 'your') not sure, look it up. Spell check won't fix this for you. The word is spelled correctly. Sometimes it's hard. I only recently figured out affect (verb) and effect (noun).

Also, let's not forget about our friend the paragraph. The paragraph helps you group thoughts and makes your writing so much easier to read. Remember, white space is a good thing.

So please, take the time to proof read, if not for yourself, than for the person who has to read and interpret what you're trying to communicate. I just had to read the sentence 'I no there computer's are to years old.'. This really made my brain hurt.

**Bonus Game**
Identify any spelling and grammar mistakes that I made in this post and let me know about them in the comments.


BlueMule said...

you misspelled colleague in the second paragraph, and the word possessive twice in the 4th paragraph.

In the last paragraph (before the bonus) your second sentence is a fragment and should probably be part of the first sentence.

Of course, I had to drop the text into MS word in order to tell you all of that.

I run my email through spell check and like you, I believe that misspellings are things that should be left to personal emails and comments in blogs, not in professional emails or documents.


Quartermaster said...

I knew that I wouldn't be able to write that post without a couple of errors. I fixed the spelling mistakes. I can't have a good rant about spelling and grammar and then make errors myself.

Did you catch that I misspelled 'possesive' in two different ways? Double letters always throw me off.

And you're right about my sentence fragment.