Why do misused apostrophes and other poor punctuation drive me so crazy? Why does bad grammar–at least in written form–make me batty? As I noted in a blog post about three years ago and repeatedly since then, I’m a stickler for writing right, partially because employers demand it.
Well, maybe most employers demand it, but apparently someone in charge at American Eagle Outfitters’ corporate office does not, or worse, doesn’t know the difference. During my spring break vacation this week, I spotted yet another of the so many incorrect apostrophes which seem to be plaguing signage and ads everywhere (see the photo, left).
Grammar mistakes abound as well. We generally can forgive poor grammar when we’re having a casual conversation, but when we see it in signs (see photo, right), papers or even resumes, the results can be comical and often costly.
It’s a point well made in a 2012 article by iFixit CEO Kyle Weins titled, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.” Weins gives a mandatory grammar test to every applicant. “On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair,” he wrote. “After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?” He goes on to say, “I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing…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 resumes. Sloppy is as sloppy does.”
Weins’ point could not be more important to anyone working in public relations or any communication-related field. Proper grammar and punctuation are essential, and mistakes can cost you your job–or prevent you from getting a job in the first place. If you’re not good with grammar and punctuation, become good. If you’re good, get better. For a PR practitioner, it’s essential. Your thoughts?