Today, we live in an era characterised by the written word. Be it surfing videos on YouTube or getting invitees for social functions, the written word is everywhere and so is grammar.
Grammar has undoubtedly become an indispensable tool for day to day communication. For some of us, it takes the error indicating ‘grammer’ to realise that it is actually ‘grammar’! Now when grammar is such a crucial issue, how can business and technical writing remain untouched by its impact?
Many employers use grammar as their ‘litmus test’. There are often candidates who confuse ‘too’ with ‘to’ or ‘their’ with ‘there’ in their resume, and eventually end up in the trash box in spite of having sufficient work experience. Proper grammar may not make a historical impact or even real logical sense, but bad grammar is often associated with sloppiness, intelligence and lack of refinement.
A form of good grammar is almost like good manners or social etiquettes, like not talking while chewing. Without proper grammar, the agreed-upon standards are lost. The ability to communicate with people, who are not in the same room talking to one another, is virtually lost without a proper grammar. The idea of writing is to be purposeful and effective. The idea itself is lost without grammar.
Proper grammar is important. It indeed takes one moment for a person to grunt and disapprove petty grammar mistakes. Learning written language takes time. It literally takes the place of a real human in any written document and stands in between two people who are present in real time and space.
Text can even extend our speech to the future. The text introduced to human kind in the axial age has enabled us to invent contracts, write the law, and even mark the history of religion and mankind. For better or worse, a man’s ability to appear in the history of the past thousand years is because of his/her ability to read and write.
In most of the jobs around, the ability to read and write are clearly and unambiguously an essential skill which one has to possess. The ability to write has the power to distinguish a worker from his boss who leaves the instructions to be followed written on the paper. Only the person with skilled grammar is chosen to represent the company in emails, over phone and in letters. Only the entrepreneur, who possesses the ability to express a new idea in text, is able to craft a ground breaking business plan which wins the faith and trust of investors and partners.
Language is more or less exacting like Mathematics. A single comma can change the whole meaning of the sentence. The advent of digital technology has made the precision in language more important than it was ever before. Not only is Standard English used in day-to-day letter, mails, Facebook status, Tweets but also in codes and computer programs. Without the required command over grammar, one cannot truly read and much less, write.
So, there is no denying the fact that the employees with good grammar and writing skills are far more valuable for the company than the ones who create ambiguous text, which is likely to cause confusion, embarrassment or legal liability.
Flawlessly professional and mechanically correct grammar can increase the job credibility of candidates by many folds and also aid in precise communication. Therefore, business writing classes should include grammar as an important chapter. Business grammar essentially consists of 3 elements: punctuation, spelling and sentence structure.
- Punctuation: There are employers who consider apostrophe among the 12 commandments of Jesus. A correct punctuation may not impress them, but it indeed saves the candidate from going straight to the trash. The correct usage of apostrophe, commas, colons, hyphens, parentheses, italics, periods, semicolons and quotation marks are important in business writing. The business students should also know the conventions of possessives and plurals.
- Spelling and usage: A single misspelt word can make a huge difference in the sentence. Common spelling checker tips can effectively improve the writing language and composition. You have to know the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ while writing. The candidates also need to know the conventions for trivial things like capitalisation and numbers.
- Grammar and Sentence composition: topics such as subject- verb agreement and usage of pronouns (like using Myself, Me and I) correctly makes a whole lot of impact on the reader. The candidates also are required to recognise and correct the sentences in fragments, run-on and parallel structures.
The clarity and right impact as achieved by grammatically correct job letters, resumes, appointment letters, reports etc. are elementary for the position and reputation of the company and its employees.
However, the interesting thing to note here is that it hasn’t yet become legal to discriminate the applicants with improper grammar. There are many companies which ignore the petty issues like grammar mistakes over job experience, qualifications and other credibility criteria. But, as far as job positions relating to customers and other associates are concerned, a company would always root for an employee with efficient spoken and written language.
There are also many people who do not have English as their first language. Do these criteria mean they have no scope for jobs in the recent market?
Unfortunately, there is no market for errors out there. If mistake it treated as a mistake, whether made by an English speaking candidate or non-English speaking one. The candidates who have to learn the language from the scratch possess and edge over the other English speaking ones. They do not have any pre-formed notions which they find difficult to ditch. They have the opportunity to form new and correct basic grounds, which they can stick to.
The business and technical writing, indeed, utilises grammar up to a great extend. Formal letters, e-mails, messages and even tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn descriptions and YouTube content have to be perfectly composed and grammatically sound to appeal audience as yet as prospective clients. The written word impresses people just like an articulate speech captivates the audience. The companies recruiting employees, thus, obviously look out for candidates with perfect grammar and good grasp of English. Perfect grammar reflects the capability and tendency of the candidate. It states that he/she is not lazy, careless or sloppy. In short, using the basics right can prove that you have not forgotten your elementary school lessons and you have been smart from the start. Thus, giving one more reason to the company to recruit you!
The candidates today are running after major things in life: gaining work experience, earning money etc. In the hustle bustle of life, they tend to ignore the more important thing which could affect them on a wider picture. English Grammar is often underestimated by the potential employees of a company. Whether it is a petty mistake overlooked by them or an unintended error, there are many people who confuse the basic words of English dictionary and end up being rejected.
Using improper sentence structure like employing two or more past tense together, as in “Didn’t knew” or “didn’t went” is a common mistake done by the candidates in their interview or job applications. Another common mistake which was found among the candidates is, confusing words like ‘effect’ and ‘affect’, ‘principle’ and ‘principal’ etc. There are also several issues like using comma all scattered over the text, capital letters as per convenience, and exclamation marks at the end of every sentence, to name a few.
The employers of the firm, however, have a sharp eye for these mistakes. Such mistakes clearly indicate lack of refinement, a casual attitude and insincerity. A job application is the first impression given by the candidate to his/her employer. If the first impression made is that of a sloppy and careless person, it can potentially jeopardise the chances of him/her getting the job.
Hence, there is no denying the fact that grammar has to be an indispensable part of business and technical writing. Whether for writing a business letter or making a contract, impeccable grammar looks neat, formal and decent. It might not win hearts or make an impact, but it surely impresses employers when you use ‘didn’t know’ correctly.
With the advent of technology, the written word has gained an importance like never before. The companies are not only looking for people who can associate well with company partners, financers, investors and peers, but also with general public. The way of conduct of an employee definitely reflects the image of the company. No company would like its employee to send across emails or letter or even messages composed in a disfigured and illegible writing, especially the web-based firms who use the written word as the only way to reach out to the potential buyers. Thus, the chances of accepting a poorly composed job application is bound to meet its fate in the trash bin.
- Truss, Lynne. Eats Shoots and Leaves: Profile Books, 2003. Print.