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January 03, 2022

Is good grammar still an essential job skill?

It's no secret that the frequency of grammar gaffes in the workplace is on the rise, thanks largely to the informality of email and texting where slang and shortcuts are common.

But does it matter that workers write "she expected John and I to help him," instead of "John and me." Or that they have trouble with when to use between or among? 

Well, some people (and I'm one of them), certainly think so. Just ask Patricia O'Conner, author of You Send Me: Getting It Right When You Write Online and the Grammarphobia blog.

Or Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and founder of Dozuki, who wrote a controversial article for the Harvard Business Review called “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar.”

In it, he argues that employers should always take into account an applicant’s grammatical abilities, regardless of the job they're applying for, on the theory that those who are diligent about their grammar tend to be equally thorough about everything else they do.

According to Wiens, good grammar says a lot about who you are and what you pay attention to:

"I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other important things also aren't important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren't issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.

That's why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they're detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it."

Do you agree? Is good grammar actually that important? Or is it results on the job that really matter?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...