Bad Grammar Makes Me (sic)

cv spelling mistakes concept

After writing professionally for almost two decades I do constantly find myself not simply reading to be informed or reading for pleasure but reading to scrutinise. In my line of work, you proofread, proofread, proofread and then ask someone else to check it!

I hate mistakes. But I spot them all the time. I rewrite things in my head and craft better ways to say it. Writing a simple text message becomes arduous and there are obstacles that simply infuriate me – the buttons that are too small for my big thumbs and the spellchecker that alters my words, with sometimes embarrassing results. And once I press that arrow to send…that’s it! There’s no going back to add or amend, my slip-up is there for the recipient to pour over at their leisure. Will they think that I simply cannot spell or that my grammar is poor? I write for a living so I find those thoughts agonising. But will they think I’m pedantic if I send another message with corrections duly made?I hate mistakes. But I spot them all the time. I rewrite things in my head and craft better ways to say it. Writing a simple text message becomes arduous and there are obstacles that simply infuriate me – the buttons that are too small for my big thumbs and the spellchecker that alters my words, with sometimes embarrassing results. And once I press that arrow to send…that’s it! There’s no going back to add or amend, my slip-up is there for the recipient to pour over at their leisure. Will they think that I simply cannot spell or that my grammar is poor? I write for a living so I find those thoughts agonising. But will they think I’m pedantic if I send another message with corrections duly made?


There are two people that force me to cringe if I make a ‘slip-up’….my fellow Journalist friend Lesley and my cousin Coral….another wordsmith. Neither would have me hung, drawn and quartered. Hmm, possibly Coral would, but I imagine that everyone else will excuse my little gaffes.


Perhaps because I imagine that they imagine that I forgive theirs. Well….don’t hate me for saying this but I don’t. If you really can’t work out when to use there, their and they’re then I think it’s time to go back to the drawing board (writing board….whatever). And I simply cannot abide it when people write ‘are’ instead of ‘our’. For example, ‘Are you coming round to are house later?’ Or ‘could of’ instead of ‘could’ve or could have’.


Text speak has confused the issue because it is at times difficult to fathom whether someone is intentionally using abbreviated or slightly altered text for messaging or if they are grammatically challenged. The former I think is okay. If you know what the standard English should be and you are just time-saving then that isn’t problematic - when the situation requires that you use formal language you can easily revert. It becomes problematic when the use of formal language is alien to you.


Imagine, as an employer, picking up a CV littered with poor language, bad structure and spelling errors. Now where do you imagine that CV will end up? Incidentally, CV is Latin for ‘course of life’. I can just hear the interviewer now ‘So, during their course of life they never quite learnt how to spell!’ It’s worrying to think that our children could have the qualifications and experience to get the right job but the way they present themselves literally may let them down because of a prolonged use of text speak and social media messaging.


In five or ten years’ time, current shortcomings in written communication skills may result in some of the lowest levels of literacy this country has ever seen. I hope not. Whilst I’m not suggesting that you correct everyone else’s grammatical mistakes. Personally, I wouldn’t. It may be a good idea to check that your children are aware of the correct spelling and the proper way to phrase sentences. I am often tempted to use the ‘offending’ word (or words) in my reply. So, if someone were to write ‘I could of gone to the party but I didn’t.’ I could reply ‘Yes, you could have gone. Probably best that you didn’t.’ But, I think that’s rather transparent.
I don’t take pleasure in agitating people so I will silently continue to check your spelling and correct your grammar whilst also praying that you really do know what you’re talking about. I bet you do. In fact, I bet you’re proofreading my blog right now.

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