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Are We Facing a Grammar-Less Generation?

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Are we facing a world-crisis? Are we parenting an entire generation that does not know how to spell or use proper grammar? A world without grammar leads to utter chaos. Can you imagine if punctuation did not exist in business grammar? Consider this sentence with and without punctuation:

Let’s eat Grandma!
Let’s eat, Grandma!

The entire meaning of this sentence hinges on a comma. If you eliminate the comma, you are a barbaric cannibal eating your grandmother, and if you add the comma, you are dining with your grandma.

As a human resources manager, I have read a lot of resumes and cover letters. Over the years, I have noticed that society has strayed further from proper grammar and punctuation. Personally, I think grammar and spelling define the necessary details of a qualified candidate. If someone applying for a job cannot take the time to construct a well-written resume, will he/she take the time to pay attention to the details that the job requires?

Perhaps you think that grammar and punctuation are only necessary for writers and editors. That is partially true, but consider how your employees will represent your company if they cannot spell or use basic grammar. Is this the image you want your business to reflect? When do simple errors transition into unprofessionalism?

Recently, I saw a meme that said, “Spell-check yourself before you wreck yourself.” It got me thinking, why are grammatical and spelling errors so commonplace in today’s society? Let us explore a few possible reasons.

  • Education – Our education system is lackluster, class sizes are too big and most programs want to focus on teaching math and science because that is the focus of standardized test scores. Yes, it is good to focus on these areas of study, but we still need to concentrate on the most basic, fundamental element: written and oral communication. Understanding basic grammar and spelling are important for people in all occupations. Business grammar isn’t just optional, but a necessity.
  • Technology – Spell check enabled an entire generation not to need dictionaries and look up words. Instead of reinforcing correct spelling, machines simply change words, and many people do not even know if the changed word is in the proper context. For example, “to,” “too” and “two” or “are” and “our.”
  • Laziness – Maybe it is easier for people to abbreviate everything nowadays, such as “UR” for “your.” Texting has created an explosion of abbreviations, which makes it easier to communicate with friends via messaging apps. However, some people do not know where to draw the line and are including abbreviations on professional job applications, in work emails, etc. This is creating, what I call “the all thumbs effect.”

I believe that spelling and grammar are still important elements when hiring employees. If someone is in a marketing field, he/she should know how to spell, use appropriate grammar and punctuation correctly. This includes my pet peeve of not including punctuation within the quotations. We live in America. Start using American-style punctuation.

While perfect spelling and business grammar are not requirements for most jobs, I think a fundamental understanding of how to professionally communicate is necessary. I know that a well-written resume and cover letter earn a second glance from me. I think it is about time that society stepped up and starts putting its best foot forward.

Read these six business grammar rules for professionals.

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