It is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever someone insists on proper grammar, someone else will inevitably refer to them as the grammar police or a grammar nazi. Some may prefer to take a passive-aggressive approach – like waiting a few days, then posting an article on social media about how people who like to correct grammar mistakes are pedantic.
Others take the easy route and rely exclusively on spell-check when drafting an important email or writing something for work – yet they let it fall to the wayside at all other times. Why do that? Why turn on and off your education like a light switch? If you are one of the many people who believe that as long as you’re understood, grammar doesn’t matter, think again. Writing quality content means paying attention to details – the way your voice comes across, the reliability of the information, and yes, to proper grammar.
Why Grammar Matters
1. It shows respect for the reader
Content that’s peppered with errors looks sloppy and careless. It shows that you either didn’t proofread it or didn’t care. And if you don’t care about your own image, why should your readers and potential clients care about what you have to offer?
2. It keeps readers engaged
Have you ever started to read something, then stopped because it didn’t make any sense? Using run-on sentences, skipping punctuation, or not capitalizing proper nouns makes things confusing. Take, for example, the British band from the 1990s, Take That. If you’re on social media and see a post about how “take that released a greatest hits album” you may be left wondering what on Earth the post is talking about and lose interest. That is unless you’re a big Robbie Williams fan, in which case, you’d probably just squeal with delight; but I digress. If you, as a business owner, publish large blocks of text without prioritizing grammar, the flow will be confusing, and you’ll lose readers – along with potential sales.
3. It makes you look professional
Educated consumers care about properly written content. We’re not talking about being a stickler to grammar rules when writing a conversational piece – such as a blog. If you want to finish a sentence with a preposition, by all means, go for it. But ignoring other rules — such as making the calamitous mistake of using “your” when you mean to say “you’re” — diminishes your credibility. In fact, bad grammar is one of the main reasons résumés get rejected. Whether you like it or not, proper grammar impacts the way others see you. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Make sure it’s a good one.
4. It informs the reader that you’re a reliable source
Would you hire a lawyer whose ads seem to have been designed in crayon by a seven-year-old? Grammar represents you and your business. Using it properly increases consumer trust in your brand. If you have high standards, show it. Your website is often your presentation card. Using proper grammar demonstrates that you pay attention to detail and that you care about your brand.
5. It provides clarity
Proper grammar decreases the risk of misinterpretation. In fact, omitting an Oxford comma ended up costing a Maine company $10 million on a labor dispute. Whether you own a small business or run a Fortune 500 company, chances are you aren’t willing to take a risk like that one.
Why Spell Check Is Not Enough
Let’s go back in time. At some point in grade school, English teachers everywhere taught us lessons about homophones. If you need a refresher course, those are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. To bee or not to bee is never a question. Black Friday cells will never be a thing. Going to the pour house may be a fun weekend activity, while being in a poor house is not. These are all examples that would never get marked by a spell checker, yet would make your content look mediocre.
The good news is that if you live in the developed world, you have access to information right in your pocket. If you have time to scroll through social media on your phone, you have time to look up grammar rules whenever you have any doubts. And if you really don’t have the time to do the research, there are plenty of content and copywriters who would be happy to do it for you.