Why good grammar matters in business writing16 May 2016
It is no surprise that the English language is changing. Around 1,000 new words are added to the Oxford Dictionary every year. But this isn’t what is griping grammar purist, Bryan A. Garner, who is seeing too often than people disregard the rules of grammar that have governed the language for centuries.
The world’s top authority on English grammar spoke to Business Insider Australia about the elusive comma splice in particular. And no, it is not a crime if you don’t know what that is. Most of us haven’t learned grammar since high school, and unless you have done some business writing training, then your pool of grammar knowledge may be drying up.
But is this affecting the quality of your writing?
Is your pool of grammar knowledge drying up?
Do you know what a comma splice is?
A comma splice is when you merge two complete sentences with a comma. Business Insider uses the example, “It’s the way I’m wired, I’m not about to change.” These are both complete sentences, and should either be separate by a full stop, semicolon, emdash (-) or even a conjunction such as “and” or “yet”.
These are all grammatical tools to merge sentences. However, people seem to be disregarding them.
“More and more people are communicating with comma splices – perhaps in text messages and in email messages – and it could be that comma splices will soon be somehow considered standard,” Garner said.
But does this spell the end of the English language’s prestige?
Why grammar is important for good writing
Grammar purists, such as Bryan A. Garner, despise any unintended changes to the English language. In fact, they hate it. “Over my dead body,” Mr Garner told Business Insider about the growing use of comma splices.
But in reality, the ultimate purpose of communication is to share ideas – so as long as an idea is understood, surely it’s adequate.
Well, even though you cannot argue that a comma splice makes an idea illegitimate, grammatical errors will reduce it’s credibility.
In 2011, Alyssa Appelman and Paul Bolls conducted a study to see what effect grammatical errors had on readers’ perception of the content. They found that writing with grammatical errors did make the reader view the piece as less credible, but it also made it more difficult to read and remember.
So if you are concerned that your command over the English language (or lack there of) is making your business writing less convincing, why don’t you up skill with an effective business writing course?