Talk to anyone who works with words for a living and sooner or later, they’ll reveal their pet peeves about how language is used. When you get a bunch of us together, like here at Suite Seven, they come spilling out. Oh! The nerdy hours we spend debating the Oxford comma, the scourge of misplaced apostrophes, and why the word “impact” can properly be used as a verb, but really, really shouldn’t be.
Out of one of those crazy-to-anyone-else discussions came the idea for this column, Grammar Rants. With the staggering amount of writing surrounding us all — tweets, texts, emails, Facebook posts, blogs and forums — the misuse, mangling and creative spelling we find occasionally drives us a tiny bit insane. It’s not that we’re old biddies yelling at the kids to get off our lawn. We understand that language — written and spoken — is a living thing that changes. But we wonder if we can help make high-quality writing a little easier for people to achieve.
Writing well matters. Here’s why:
- Credibility: If you get the little things wrong, how can anyone trust you’ve got the big things right?
- Clarity: Words are tools — using the wrong one is equivalent to bashing a screw into the wall with a hammer. As pieces of writing get ever shorter, using precise words allows for brevity while still delivering the information.
- Engagement: People want what they’re looking for quickly. Apparently, humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish. If you want them to read it, it better be good.
- Professionalism: Online writing has an incredibly long life. You may forget about that blog post, but it exists out there in the digital wilds, just waiting to be found. You never know which investor, prospective employer or potential customer is a stickler about spelling, grammar and usage, and how you’ll be judged.
For people whose career isn’t in word-nerding, writing or editing may not come naturally. We get it. We all use other professionals to do the things we can’t, from lawyers, doctors and accountants to electricians, plumbers and mechanics.
In that vein, Suite Seven is offering up regular “Grammar Rants,” focusing on common writing mistakes we see every day, and following up with quick and easy tips to correct or avoid them. We won’t bore you with snooty, professorial lectures — in fact, some of the topics we’ll cover were born by repeated sightings in our own work.
We all need a little help sometimes.