The Importance of Good Grammar
Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes
Many years ago I was watching infomercials, as I often did, and came across one of a guy selling a program that teaches others how to become rich by placing ads in newspapers. This guy, although filled with enthusiasm, made some grammatical errors on his short infomercial that, for me, were more painful to listen to than fingernails scratching a chalkboard. He said things such as, “Alls you have to do is...” and “Let me ax you a question....” Two months later, after seeing his new infomercial, sans grammatical errors, I knew that others had taken offense to his mistakes as well.
I know I am not alone in being offended, or at least turned off, by grammatical errors. How do I know this? Just about every day while I was creating the first Year To Success on-line course, I received an e-mail from a member of Y2S, who disagreed with my use of the English language. I will say that most of the e-mails I received were corrections of careless errors made by me, in my pursuit to keep up with my strict and self-imposed schedule. However, I did, and still do, get the occasional, belligerent e-mail from an expert in linguistics criticizing my style of writing. In fact, one former member took the time to rewrite one of my lessons and pointed out over 30 “mistakes.” When he was done with the lesson, it read more like a sixteenth century Shakespearean poem than what it was meant to be—a lesson written in informal American English to capture and maintain the interest of the readers. Good grammar can be subjective and quite debatable at times; however, bad grammar is far more obvious and should always be avoided.
Many of the benefits of using good grammar are the same as having a good vocabulary, the most important one being effective communication. Grammatical errors in both speaking and writing can distract from the message itself and cause negative feelings in the listener or reader. Avoiding grammatical errors can help you avoid low grades, lost employment opportunities, lost business, and embarrassment.
There is standard and nonstandard English, American and British (Queen’s) English, spoken and written English, and informal and formal English. Each style follows the same general rules but has its distinct differences. The key to good grammar is knowing when to use which style and being able to defend your reasoning. When it comes to standard versus nonstandard English, use nonstandard English only when you intend to, not because you do not know the difference.
Bookstores, public libraries, and the Internet are full of information on proper use of grammar. Take some time to read the books, listen to the audio programs, visit the websites, and work on your grammar skills. You will find yourself the recipient of higher grades, more job opportunities, more business, less embarrassment, and more success.
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- Buy the Book. Year To Success - Available in hardcover, signed by the author. Also available in ebook, paperback, and audio from Amazon.com.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)