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
Posted by: John | Jan 3, 2022 10:32:40 AM
I agree that good grammar is essential. Someone that writes reports with spelling and grammatical errors is unprofessional and careless. If a person cannot be diligent about their writting, then I would question their diligence in their work.
Posted by: GMC | Jan 3, 2022 3:00:55 PM
Is grammar required. sadly, yes. English is skewing to the dumb side.
Posted by: karra | Jan 3, 2022 3:15:24 PM
It obviously depends on whether or not writing is required for the job. I don't give a rat's a__ whether a plumber, a shovel operator, a haul truck driver or even a paramedic does not use good grammar - the world does not revolve around report writing professionals. However, I do care that teachers and writers use good grammar.
Posted by: Mr. Negative | Jan 4, 2022 9:19:57 AM
I think everyone should have the ability to be taught proper grammar and literacy, however, look at the world we live in? It isn't about your grammar, as it is more about who you know, who they know, and how they can help you! Communication when speaking is more important than how it is written. I know many sales people who can talk the talk and sell you anything, but can't read or write very well. Just my opinion......
Posted by: Annoyed at Bad Grammar | Jan 5, 2022 1:03:49 AM
I think that grammar is NB. Most peeps don't even speak properly. My fam uses poor grammar. My sis says almost everyday, "I don't have no money." That's so annoying !!! We took Language Arts/English in school every single day & it doesn't seem to have made a much of a diff'ce. I admit I prob don't have the best grammer but I prob have better grammar than most peeps. If grammar was NB enough that it'd affect an employer's decision on hiring someone, I believe that I'd have a better chance @ getting the job. I say "may as well" & my sis says "might as well". I don't know which is correct so I continue to say "may as well". Why "might" someone do something when they "may" do it ? It sounds more positive. If that made a diff'ce in hiring, I'd put on my resume that I have good (or some better word, can't think of one now) grammar skills (esp if it's relevent to the job).
P.S. I just shortened everything b/c that's the way I type/chat. I also tend to ramble :P... lol
Posted by: Frank | Jan 5, 2022 9:11:21 AM
It depends on the position being filled. If the HR manager thinks good grammar is a concern when he or she is hunting for a Construction Superintendent in northern Canada, Alaska, Saudi Arabia or Papua New Guinea the company should think about replacing the HR Manager. Good grammar is a sign of a solid foundation in basic education but the work place requires many skill sets that are just valuable depending on the position in question. eg. Do you really care about "Me or I" or "between or among" if you are looking for a skilled machinist, dentist, brain surgeon????? Not likely!!!
Posted by: RG | Jan 5, 2022 10:48:09 AM
@Annoyed at Bad Grammar When I see writing such as yours, I cannot bear to read it. It's lazy and doesn't read with any flow whatsoever. Reading should be a pleasant experience, not something that you have to stumble through and try to make sense of as you go along. Shortening words and using symbols when trying to communicate is part of the reason our language and writing skills are in such a mess.
Posted by: G | Jan 5, 2022 10:56:19 AM
I agree it depends very much on what job is being done; however, I really wish that all people who worked with children needed to use good grammar. Even teachers, who have been through years of university & "teachers college" don't have a good understanding of grammar, or at least, they don't use it in their spoken language (often not in the letters sent home by the school either). Day care teachers - forget about it in most cases.
So children, from the beginning, are surrounded by poor grammar & lazy ways of speaking. How will they ever learn properly?
People seem to think that the English language is "evolving", & that's the excuse for a lack of proper grammar.
Posted by: Shows Ignorance | Jan 5, 2022 12:28:00 PM
Poor grammar is a handicap like any other and it is spreading. Several times last year I found grammatical errors in articles on the MSN/ca site. The one that annoys me the most is the use of "I'm bored of it" instead of "I'm bored with it" by professional journalists and writers. I even found this in a fictional novel I was reading. Needless to say, I didn't finish the novel and I won't be reading anything else by that author.
Posted by: darlene artist | Jan 5, 2022 12:58:00 PM
I fully agree. I speak and write english and understand it. When I hear bad language or see bad language and also see it in words. I am wondering if that person wants a good job or just a basic job with no skill set.
When I did my resume I had it checked over by my english teacher just to make sure the grammer was right and that it was a easy read.
I was hired the next day and work in the computer industry.
Posted by: Ian Wood | Jan 5, 2022 1:05:25 PM
A teacher came to Johnny's home wanting to talk with his mother...
"She ain't 'ere miss" Johnny replied with a smile...
"Johnny" the teacher said "what about your grammar?"
"She ain't 'ere eiver miss"
Ah... and so the pendulum swings - back in the day the three "R's" were so important...but since when have they not been important.Then again some get it and others don't and thats OK but do we not have the right to choose without discriminating - if the job requires grammar then it is important - as one comment said... does a plumber or painter need good grammar to do a good job... - then again if someone was my investment advisor, lawyer or something I would expect some level of education...personally I am amazed at the way some people write cover letters or resumes and still expect to get hired - they can't even spell - even with "spellcheck" But again is that important in this new cultural dynamic of thumb speak on little devices in their pockets which sadly have become more important than people and old fashioned human interaction.
Posted by: beverley rolston | Jan 5, 2022 1:30:39 PM
Grammar is certainly important. Grammar,and spelling, convey meaning. Thus correct grammar ensures accurate communication.
The incorrect usage of it's(this means it is), when someone is intending to use the possessive form,is one of the most glaring errors in written text.
Posted by: John R | Jan 5, 2022 2:23:36 PM
Regarding posting by "John" - if someone cannot be diligent about their 'writting'! No further comment required.
Posted by: annrose | Jan 5, 2022 2:43:52 PM
I am aware of companies giving literacy tests to potential employees.
I come from a country/society where the businesses decide, with the government, what we study.
Our school curriculum is drawn up by the businesses and sanctioned by the government.
So we already know that, if we do not reach a particular level of education..we are DOOMED.
Technically, it is unimportant what work you aspire to do, you will ALWAYS need GRAMMAR even for filling in paper work etc., and when you do not make any sense in completing standard paperwork, you are ultimately looked down upon. Personally, I have seen this happen!!
And felt sorry for the person involved, as maybe they were not told this would be the case someday!
Posted by: Ann P. | Jan 5, 2022 3:00:34 PM
I am the office editor where I work. Although I only possess a college degree, my English grammar, spelling and punctuation are excellent. Not only do I produce most of the office correspondence, I also correct the work of employees who have B.A. and Masters' degrees. The only difference is that I get paid much less to correct their work. It's too bad that grammar, spelling and punctuation are not an important part of our education. I think if I hear, or see, more cold, more hot, etc., again, I will scream; what ever happened to colder, hotter, etc. Good grammar is absolutely one of the most important job skills employees can possess, and they should be paid accordingly.
Posted by: Stephane | Jan 5, 2022 5:31:22 PM
Our business group has a branch on trading stocks. this business advanced because I always hired GENIUS new commers from all over the world, half of them with poor grammar skills...
Posted by: Paul Roy | Jan 5, 2022 7:14:49 PM
With the electrical technology and the lack of teaching skills in many school classes, the generations of the future are in deep trouble. The young people text all the time using shortcuts and have lost all respect for mankind. They treat everyone as if they were part of their inner circle and cannot hold a proper conversation with anyone. Judging by their commucication skills, their grammatical skills cannot be any better. Had we used that language with our parents and elders when growing up, we would still be in Siberia writing lines.
Posted by: Jerome | Jan 5, 2022 7:21:11 PM
For any managerial or office work, good grammar is important. Managers should be able to communicate efficiently using proper sentence structures and clear meaning.
However, the examples given, "you and I" and "among or between", are in my opinion extremely poor choices. I think more about knowing the difference between "to and too". Most people are not writing novels...
Posted by: Kim | Jan 5, 2022 7:47:46 PM
If you just read a few of the above responses; Then you will comprehend why Grammar is so important. Even the new 'commers'...lol
Posted by: Judy Ann | Jan 5, 2022 9:04:40 PM
Good Grammer. I would just be happy if they could speak good English.
Posted by: Anthony Lexington | Jan 5, 2022 10:13:07 PM
Finally! I hope this triggers a movement to get back to using proper grammar, correct spelling, etc.
I agree with Ann P. People nowadays do not know how to use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs anymore (raise your hand if you know what an adjective and adverb is) "More cold" instead of "colder"; or worse "more colder". What?!?!?
Why do some abbreviate etcetera as "ect"? When did the "c" go before the "t"? People who make this mistake probably don't know how to spell the word (or how to spell in general).
Don't get me started on people not knowing how to use "their", "there", and "they're" or "too", "to" and "two", or "this" and "these". Let's not forget the classics "shoud/would/could of". Were these people not taught contraction? "Should've" for "should have" and so on.
What makes it worse is when you see these errors on news tickers or published articles. Whatever happened to the editors of these news shows and publishers? I guess they are as dumb as the writers whose work theyare supposed (yes, its "supposed" not "suppose") to supervise.
Posted by: Dave | Jan 5, 2022 10:21:45 PM
Of course good grammar is important! It's not only about attention to details, but also about understanding how to communicate, how to make an accurate permanent record of a business situation that needs to be understood at some time in the future, and it shows that a person is at least able to learn grammar! If they couldn't pick up grammar, then your training program may be kind of extended to help the learning impaired! Cheers.
Posted by: Jack | Jan 5, 2022 10:52:12 PM
It is truly ironic that none of the people who commented noticed that Gordon Powers himself made a grammatical mistake when he spoke of "...an applicant's grammatical abilities, regardless of the job they're applying for...." Observe that "an applicant" is singular, while "they're" is plural. Pronouns need to agree in number with their antecedents (i.e. the words to which they refer). Many suppose that "they" can be used to express gender neutrality, but that is not true. What Powers should have said was "...applicants' grammatical abilities, regardless of the job they're applying for...." Now the pronoun matches its antecedent in number. Technically, Powers should also have said "...for which they're applying...." However, I'll leave that discussion for another day.
Posted by: Lynda154 | Jan 5, 2022 10:54:54 PM
I agree with John regarding grammar and due diligence, but he should include the importance of proofreading: "writing is not spelled "writting"."
Posted by: Deb | Jan 5, 2022 11:03:14 PM
I copied all of the replies and did a spell check. Out of 22 comments, only 9 were correct. It's sad that we can't even spell "English" and "grammar" correctly.
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