Voices

The Case for “Grammar Nazis”

hey m8, u wanna go out tonite?:)

Do you often get messages like this? I know I do. And I’m guilty of writing them, too. Many of us are.

In today’s fast-paced society, people rarely take the time to type out full words, let alone full sentences, anymore. And then there’s the emoji, which takes shorthand to a whole new level.

Of course, the opening line would be an example of informal communication between friends, but believe me, I’ve read published work in a similar style. At risk of sounding like a fossil, shouldn’t we pay more attention to the way we use language, at least in the public domain?

Let me give you a few reasons why we should.

Language conveys more than its words

width=1024

The way you use language sends a message that stretches way beyond the literal meaning of the words you wrote.

For example, take these two sentences:

Eloquent, yet concise, writing gives the reader an impression of sophistication, authority, and intelligence.

Your more likely to attract a larger audience by writing properly.

While these examples are obviously somewhat extreme, they illustrate my point. Doesn’t the small grammatical error at the beginning of the second sentence mar its meaning and make you question the author’s commitment and authority?

Evidently, everyone makes mistakes. We’re only human, after all. Nevertheless, with so many spell-checking and language improvement tools (e.g. Grammarly and Hemingway App) out there, your excuses for bad writing are dwindling.

Stop being lazy

width=1024

A lot of bad writing stems from laziness. Either you’re too lazy to re-read what you’ve written, too lazy to run your work through a spell-checker, or too lazy to ask someone to check it for you.

Yes, we’re all busy, but do you really want to sacrifice quality for quantity?

Not only does laziness reflect poorly on you as a writer, but it may also spread to other areas of your life. Being lazy with your writing might indicate that you’re not very detail-oriented and meticulous.

On the flip side, you could take this opportunity to hone your attention to detail. Getting into the habit of checking and re-checking your work to catch any linguistic flaws may cause you to change your overall work attitude for the better.

Boost your brainpower

Good writing requires substantially more effort than bad writing. The steps for ensuring you’re publishing a high-quality piece of work would look somewhat like this:

  • Research your topic
  • Write a first structured draft (don’t worry about language at this stage yet)
  • Revise your draft and format the text (change up the layout and use bulleted lists etc. to break up the paragraphs)
  • Add images
  • Add extras such as links, ads, related posts, etc., depending on the type of publication
  • Last check for spelling errors and format errors in preview mode (putting yourself in a reader’s shoes really helps at this stage), or you can ask someone to check it for you
width=1024

Skipping any of these steps to accelerate the process will lead to at least a minor decrease in quality. Furthermore, all the steps require you to think about different aspects of your work, such as your tone, the structure and format of this piece, the consistency of your writing style, how to express the finer points, your choice of vocabulary, and so on, and so forth.

Do you see how writing high-quality content will boost your brain power?

I am a “grammar nazi”, but mostly with myself

I hope that, if you haven’t been entirely convinced about the importance of good writing, I have at least motivated you to pay a little more attention to the way you write.

The one group that I haven’t addressed in this post is people who write in a non-native language. Give them a break because it’s already hard enough to attempt writing in a foreign language, and they’re putting in a lot of effort to learn by doing. If you’re unhappy with this, try to write well in a new language and let me know how you get on!

Getting back to the point, I don’t condone so-called “grammar nazis” who troll others with tiny spelling mistakes and typos because they’re just, well… trolling.

So, the best way to ensure that the quality of written language is upheld in the public domain is probably to be a “grammar nazi” with your own work. That’s how I try to ensure a certain standard of writing on my blog. Sure, the tone and vocabulary might be colloquial, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any grammatical errors in my posts (I hear some of you say “challenge accepted!”). The distinction I’m emphasizing here is between tone, style, and language use.

There certainly will be people reading this who feel like we should just let languages evolve naturally, and who feel like it wouldn’t be so bad if in 100 years, humans would be communicating solely with emojis.

Would that be bad? I’m not sure. U tell me!

Follow Helene on Facebook and visit her blog Helene Choo.

Photo by ANDRIK LANGFIELD PETRIDES

Profile photo of Helene Choo

My hope is to inspire others to live life to the fullest.