Last week, a friend on Facebook posted some image about making judgement calls on things like spelling and grammar. It was meant to be funny, but it really upset me for some reason. I’m sure part of it had to do with the outpouring of negativity building up to that day along with hateful nonsense in other areas, but that one graphic really stuck out to me.
|Entertaining as it is, I don’t think I’d want to go to this company
for a sign any time soon.
by Neal Chambers, [CC-BY 2.0], via Flickr
I ended up stepping away from the computer for a while. Once I calmed down, I realized why it got to me. People judge others on their spelling and grammar every single day. Some take it a step further, and turn it into fodder for bullying. Having dyslexia, I’ve experienced that personally.
When it comes to professional work, spelling and grammar do matter. If you’re being paid to write something, be it making a sign, tattooing a saying or writing an article, you need to put your education to work.
Odds are, whatever you create will then be put out to represent the company for which you work. If you don’t bother with putting your best foot forward, you risk making yourself look foolish as a professional and your employers look negligent in their work as well.
This is especially true when it comes to looking for work or submitting writing for any sort of publication. Unless you’re writing for a place which is interested in quantity over quality, if the editor can’t read or understand your writing, it simply won’t get accepted.
Basically, if you’re getting paid for your writing, you must do it correctly. If I’m looking for a book to purchase, for example, I won’t purchase the one full of errors or difficult to read text.
This also goes for professional emails. I have corresponded with people like doctors, lawyers and CEOs who refused to even use spell check while conversing with me via email. I had the hardest time not replying with corrections, or simply “What?” One person even used chat speak with me and wondered why I wouldn’t respond in kind.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe a certain level of professionalism and respect needs to come into play over the course of a work-related conversation.
Of course, when you’re writing for school, you must also proofread your work before you hand it in. Students who are just learning how to write should be allowed some leeway in the classes that don’t concentrate on the mechanics of writing, of course. However, once you get to college or even high school, your work should have the best spelling and grammar you can muster.
If you’re still accommodating for a learning disability or are still learning the language, your teachers should be told about it beforehand, so they can adjust whatever criteria they have accordingly. You should still write to the best of your ability and seek help if you can.
|Screenshot taken from Tumblr with identifying info
blocked out. Forgive the profanity, but this is a more
extreme example of what happens.
When you’re communicating via text in your free time, spelling and grammar takes back seat to relationships and content. As long as I can understand the point you’re trying to make, you don’t need absolutely perfect spelling or grammar.
Being endlessly corrected when you’re simply trying to hold a conversation gets extremely irritating and hurtful. It also tells you that the person doing the correcting probably cares less about what you’re saying, and more about their comfort, status or both. It simply comes across as obnoxious and insulting.
It’s even worse if they know you have some sort of learning disability or don’t speak English as a first language.
Who doesn’t want to kick back and simply enjoy a friendly conversation? Being under pressure to display your education 24/7 eliminates that enjoyment for many people, which is why errors happen.
Unless the person in question says it’s ok to correct mistakes during casual conversation, just go with the flow. Unless grammatical errors are more important to you than your relationship with the individual, there’s no harm in letting them pass.
I think I’ll blame my recent obsession with using cooking as an analogy on my husband and his love of Gordon Ramsey’s TV shows. Anyway, think of it as preparing comfort food for yourself versus cooking for a five star restaurant.
When you’re preparing comfort food after a long day, you won’t care so much about how the food looks, so much as how it tastes. You don’t need perfect technique or beautiful plating. It’s there to soothe frazzled nerves and help you calm down for the evening.
Cooking a top of the line meal for a high class restaurant, on the other hand, does require great technique. The final product must look as good as it tastes, and it needs to be worth the price the customer pays for it.
Writing is very similar.
If you’re writing for strict enjoyment, you don’t necessarily need to have perfect spelling and grammar. The person you’re trying to communicate with must be able to understand it, but it doesn’t need to be perfect.
If you’re writing as part of your job, school or as an income, your spelling, grammar and technique must be the best you can muster at all times. Your audience must be able to read whatever you’re putting together, and it must look great at the same time.
Although spelling and grammar are important, there’s a lot more to friendships and other personal relations than the technicalities of the conversation. If you happen to come across spelling or grammatical errors in your casual conversations, ask the person if they mind being corrected before doing so. You might just save everyone involved more unneeded irritation.