Grammar, a Victim in the Office – WSJ.com
When Caren Berg told colleagues at a recent staff meeting, “There’s new people you should meet,” her boss Don Silver broke in, says Ms. Berg, a senior vice president at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., marketing and crisis-communications company.
“I cringe every time I hear people misuse “is” for “are,” Mr. Silver says. The company’s chief operations officer, Mr. Silver also hammers interns to stop peppering sentences with “like.” For years, he imposed a 25-cent fine on new hires for each offense. “I am losing the battle,” he says.
Managers are fighting an epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace. Many of them attribute slipping skills to the informality of email, texting and Twitter where slang and shortcuts are common. Such looseness with language can create bad impressions with clients, ruin marketing materials and cause communications errors, many managers say.
There’s no easy fix. Some bosses and co-workers step in to correct mistakes, while others consult business-grammar guides for help. In a survey conducted earlier this year, about 45% of 430 employers said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees’ grammar and other skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP.
“I’m shocked at the rampant illiteracy” on Twitter, says Bryan A. Garner, author of “Garner’s Modern American Usage” and president of LawProse, a Dallas training and consulting firm. He has compiled a list of 30 examples of “uneducated English,” such as saying “I could care less,” instead of “I couldn’t care less,” or, “He expected Helen and I to help him,” instead of “Helen and me.”
Leslie Ferrier says she was aghast at letters employees were sending to customers at a Jersey City, N.J., hair- and skin-product marketer when she joined the firm in 2009. The letters included grammar and style mistakes and were written “as if they were speaking to a friend,” says Ms. Ferrier, a human-resources executive. She had employees use templates to eliminate mistakes and started training programs in business writing.
Strange Random Grammar Quotes:
“Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.” ― C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children
“Man, wow, there’s so many things to do, so many things to write! How to even begin to get it all down and without modified restraints and all hung-up on like literary inhibitions and grammatical fears…”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
- Take the Grammartarian Grammar Test at WSJ (reason.com)
- In age of Twitter and texting, workplace grammar slipping fast (prsa.org)
- Wall Street Journal: Data is or data are? (jimromenesko.com)
- Does grammar matter anymore? (LOL) (cbsnews.com)
- Between You and I, is Standard Usage and Grammar Necessary in Business? (nclawlife.com)
- Grammar Gremlins: Upon review, ‘on’ oft preferred (knoxnews.com)
- Friday fun: test your grammar skills (vivianpaige.com)
- Can you Speel It? (dailypost.wordpress.com)
- About the grammar quiz in the WSJ article (proswrite.com)