Punctuation and gRammar

      49 Comments on Punctuation and gRammar

Now that the last vestiges of the first 2016 presidential debate have left Hofstra, it’s time to turn from politics to one of my favorite topics–punctuation and grammar.

its-vs-its

Reading students’ anonymous evaluations this week on my teaching revealed observations about how “strict” I am regarding their writing. They generally seemed grateful for my approach; one student even wrote, “I needed it.”

I often tell the story about how I lost a valuable client when a colleague misspelled the CEO’s name in a draft of a press release. “One of the easiest ways to discount your business’ credibility is to fall victim to spelling errors and poor grammar,” wrote marketing professional Carly Stec. “If your content is plagued by poor grammar, it’s likely that people will think twice about the quality of your products or services.”

The same goes for one’s professional reputation. John Boitnott of Entrepreneur recently wrote, “While it may not seem like a major concern, making even the smallest of mistakes when composing written messages can have a major impact on our careers, since poor writing skills can give colleagues and customers the impression that we’re not really educated or skilled enough to do our jobs properly.”

iFixit CEO Kyle Weins also takes grammar seriously. In his article, “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why,” he said, “My zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?” He added, “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 things also aren’t important.” Weins gives a grammar test to every job applicant.

Yes, I can be aggressive when it comes to punctuation and grammar, but I hope my public relations students understand when I correct their writing, it’s just tough love. After all, I’m only concerned about their future success. Your thoughts?

(photo above from Brightside)

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49 thoughts on “Punctuation and gRammar

  1. carocalderon88

    In my personal experience, I am very thankful that I have people around me that help and encourage me to improve my grammar. I do not take criticism personal, actually the opposite. I need people to point out the mistakes I make when I write — or speak; that is the best way to improve.
    As a future professional Public Relations practitioner, it is essential for me to be able to properly communicate the information I want the audience to read. As professor Morosoff said, a misspelling could cause you to lose a client or damage the image of the organization you are working for.

    Reply
  2. A. Murphy

    I completely agree. There is a certain standard that is expected from someone once they reach a certain level and having proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation is one such standard. The errors are more glaring and more noticeable to me when I look at a piece written by someone that I respect and admire.

    While accidents do happen, spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors are things that all professionals in any field should be cognizant of when writing.

    Reply
  3. elliotrubin

    I completely agree with Weins’ stance of not hiring people with poor grammar. In addition to the fact that writing is one of the most useful skills someone (not necessarily just a PR person, but anyone in general) could have, if someone makes careless typos on messages and assignments, this is a sign of laziness and not being thorough.

    Additionally, whenever I see poor grammar anywhere, I get turned off from the initial message. If I have these expectations for someone’s grammar, it only makes sense that someone more established will hold people coming into the job market to a higher standard.

    Reply
  4. Brianna Holcomb

    During my internships every one of my supervisors was adamant about making sure grammar,punctuation, and spelling were correct in every article or pitch letter that I have sent. Even writing for the school paper it is a major turn off to see a writer pitch me an idea with the title of the event spelled wrong or even my name. It is more annoying to see them write an article and not do so in the proper format. As a PR professional it is important to double check what you write before sending it out because it makes a huge difference.

    Reply
  5. ariaishaokonofua

    Punctuation and grammar is critical in PR so I also love that you emphasize the importance of it and are a stickler for it. At times, we draft essays etc. in a fast manner and don’t take the time to thoroughly correct ourselves. This will teach us to pace ourselves and take pride in what we work on.

    Reply
  6. Diana Ziskin

    I agree, using proper grammar is a quality that is fading away in the days of text messages. People are forgetting how to spell and punctuate correctly, and it begins to spill over into the professional world, where it can hurt our careers.

    Reply
  7. Vanessa Major

    I appreciate how hard you are on us when it comes to spelling and grammar. After having my first class with you, I have taken a different approach to writing. I try to be more attentive and correct in my choice of words and punctuation. So I must say that your tough love is needed and appreciated as it only will help us become better as we proceed in our careers.

    Reply
  8. Aisha B

    I agree, proper grammar and spelling is key no matter what field you’re in. A client may not take you as seriously if there are grammatical errors in your press releases or even emails. I believe that is it vital for public relation specialists should have someone proofread their work before sending it out.

    Reply
  9. Owen Lewis

    Grammar is very important, especially when considering that it is often the first impression we make on either a digital audience or employers. It’s also important for conveying our thoughts and messages in a coherent way. It’s really essential for communication.

    Reply
    1. buchananstea

      I agree, proper grammar and spelling is key no matter what field you’re in. A client may not take you as seriously if there are grammatical errors in your press releases or even emails. I believe that is it vital for public relation specialists should have someone proofread their work before sending it out.

      Reply
  10. Jack De Gilio

    I think that it’s important to point out punctuation and grammatical errors. It doesn’t matter what profession you go into, strong writing skills are a necessity. There have been times where I have something, whether it’s an article or a book, and when a spelling, grammatical or punctuation error somehow goes unnoticed, I get very distracted. I always get annoyed at myself when I don’t notice grammatical errors that could be fixed by diligent proofreading. One small punctuation or grammatical issue can be enough to lose credibility.

    Reply
  11. Kristen Simon

    While I may not be too concerned with errors in writing, I do cringe when I’m speaking to someone and that person misuses a word or term of phrase. Simply for myself, when I’m speaking I try to make the biggest impact with my speech without offending anyone or addressing a matter in the wrong way. For me, it’s courteous, it shows that you’re thinking about your audience or those around you who may hear what you’re saying. I would probably feel the same way about grammar and writing if I were to be consistently reading other’s work.

    Reply
  12. Laura Logan

    People who care about grammar and punctuation are the same people who care about detail. Writing is one of the only skills that can be used in any aspect of a person’s life. I don’t believe that it is at all unfair or too harsh to administer a grammar and punctuation test during a job application process. Just as you said, poor writing can cost a person his or her job or entire business. I also believe we should begin to teach grammar as soon as we teach how to read and spell. Personally, my school district did not formally teach grammar until junior year of high school, and I’ve had to play catch up ever since. It’s understandable that sometimes people make mistakes, but consistent grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes in the workplace is just unacceptable.

    Reply
  13. Danielle Ferrara

    I strongly believe what you’re saying, punctuation and grammar play an extremely large part in anyone’s life. These two things can make or break someone and I try to largely stress my grammar and punctuation while writing because it is imperative when composing any type of written or typed work. Especially since I want to work in PR, perfect grammar is essential so I strive to always proofread and even have one of my friends proofread to makesure I didn’t miss anything.

    Reply
  14. reginasprtools

    Personally, I am always grateful for corrections on my grammar because I know sometimes I make mistakes when writing papers and do not even realize it. Even if I read over a paper a few times I still somehow miss little mistakes. So I have learned to give it to my sister or friend to proof read so at least I have a second pair of eyes to check for errors. It is very important to have proper grammar and punctuation skills especially in the world of PR. If a company has hired someone for PR then their job is to make sure the company gets their message/news/press release/promotion across to the public as clearly and perfectly as possible. Grammar mistakes would not make the company look as reputable or professional and that is a mistake which could have been easily avoided. In college we have plenty of papers to write, and punctuation/grammar mistakes should be avoided at all costs because it is always a bad feeling when you put so much hard work into a paper and then get points taken off just for grammar mistakes.

    Reply
  15. nhakels

    So when i was in school, i was taught that you spend half of your day in school and so your teachers are like your parents, they will correct you be mad at you only because they want to see you grow. So i guess you being strict about grammar is reasonable the fact that we are PR students. It is better to make mistakes now and be corrected than to lose a job over careless grammar mistakes.

    Reply
  16. Brianna Beaumont

    I agree that grammar is important. I try my best to have good grammar; however, I am not always perfect with it. My friend is, what I call her, the grammar police. She will not respect you if you have bad grammar. I also tend to like someone better if they have good grammar. If I am messaging someone and they message me with the wrong “there”, I would instantly correct them. I believe writing is one of the most important things that people need to know how to do, so if someone does it badly then I can not help but judge them.

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  17. Talomola Opabajo

    I have never been the best at grammar but after years and years of being corrected (usually by the same mistakes), I would like to think I am better. My major mistake when it comes to grammar is relying solely on spell check. Spell check can only see so many errors. Having someone read my work out loud has been the most effective to me when it comes to checking my grammar. Proper grammar is important to your success in life. You are going to use these skills that you learn now every day in the workplace. I never had a job or internship where poor grammar was tolerated. Overall, no one is perfect and I know that I can learn so much more about writing. This makes me appreciate the harsh editing and critiques because I know in the long run, it will only benefit me.

    Reply
  18. Stacyann Nathan

    I am in agreement with this.Although I am guilty of making errors sometimes in grammar I offen find that it can be a turn off. But if I see someone make one spelling error I am more likely to give them a second chance, especially if there is potential.

    Reply
  19. Jen O'Malley

    I appreciate being called out on my grammar if it’s incorrect. I am not perfect and have made mistakes in my writing. That being said, when I’m at work and receive an email or letter riddled with errors, it makes me cringe. The director at my organization has a long last name. It’s actually a common enough name, but people constantly misspell it and always completely butcher it while trying to pronounce it over the phone. I’ve witnessed her roll her eyes and become annoyed by that and I would never want to be one of those people! As you mentioned, it really does show a care for detail and attention. In the professional world, and especially in the PR world, there is just no room for carelessness.

    Reply
  20. Victoria Conway

    I have often been told by teachers that writing is crucial to success. With your comments in class and this blog post, I couldn’t agree more. I can struggle with grammar at times and it is something I am working on. Therefore, I am very happy to have a professor who is strict about this subject. I believe it will only make me a better student and future professional.

    Reply
  21. Jennifer Rauch

    I completely agree. Punctuation and grammar is super important no matter what you do for a living. I do not mind the tough love, I am still learning everyday how to fix my mistakes with writing.

    Reply
  22. Ashley Pina

    I agree, I believe poor grammar habits often stem from laziness. It drives me crazy reading people’s tweets or Instagram comments and seeing the same grammatical errors. Granted social media is a more casual than most forms of writing, but I think the problem starts there. If millenials are too lazy to use proper grammar in a tweet or even on their resumes, what indication do employers have that they will perform well?

    Reply
  23. Chrissy Carvalho

    I completely agree that grammar is important in our profession. Even if the content of your writing is brilliant, it will come off as sloppy if it is riddled with mistakes, which is never how you want to come off to your public when representing a client.

    Reply
  24. therianreport

    I completely agree and appreciate the tough love. As a person who isn’t very judgmental in most matters, I admittedly judge writers for their word choice and spelling (more so than punctuation). In an era where it is very easy to find out how to spell or define words with the click of a button, I find that I associate poor writing with laziness and the writer would lose credibility with me.

    Reply
  25. Jessica Mohen

    Proper grammar and punctuation is crucial to a successful work environment or business. If any sort of document is passed to a client and has misspellings or errors, the company simply looks bad. It is just expected that employees will always use correct punctuation and grammar. The concept usually goes without saying. When employees are not reminded to use proper syntax, they might not see it as important, and make careless errors. A more dangerous problem is if the employee just does not know better. I do not disagree with Kyle Weins’ spelling test concept.

    Reply
  26. Marielle McCartin

    I find it extremely important to be aware of grammar when writing. It is very unprofessional to have spelling errors when you are writing to a colleague, professor, or even to a friend. Having good grammar makes what you are writing more credible. I find it very hard for people who are college age to remember to have good grammar because of text messaging. It is very hard to not use short cuts that are used when writing casually to friends. It will be very helpful for students to have a professor that checks grammar to give us a reminder on how to write correctly and professionally.

    Reply
  27. Michael Esposito

    I believe that punctuation and grammar are so important. You can tell a lot about a person by whether or not they are able to use the correct forms of there, to and your. When reading on Twitter it bothers me to see stupid mistakes. I understand it’s social media and shouldn’t be taken too seriously but it should be a normal thing to use proper grammar. I definitely look forward to the extra grammar lesson here and there.

    Reply
  28. Tai Davis

    Proper grammar is very important to be successful. I am appreciative of grammar corrections now because I know I did not take grammar seriously in my past English classes. Grammar is a way create a trusting relationship with clientele, especially if they do not know your prior history. Grammar, being something that is learned, should be a factor in whether or not a person gets hired in a field such as PR or Journalist because there is a lot of writing involved into the job description. We go to college to get prepared for the “real world” so tough love is to be expected.

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  29. khaleik

    I agree as well. Grammar should always be held at the highest standard for the reason being that helps with ones credibility. Going back to “One of the easiest ways to discount your business’ credibility is to fall victim to spelling errors and poor grammar.” It looks unprofessional and comes off as you don’t care about about the work you’re presenting to others.

    Reply
  30. Justin Chupungco

    I agree with the point you make on grammar Professor Morosoff. Grammar is of the utmost importance, regardless of what you do. Grammar is slowly dying, and becoming less important, especially with texting and social media continuously expanding. Abbreviations are becoming more common and grammar is fading. However, in the professional world, especially in the field of communications, grammar is a must for professionalism, quality, etc. Even phones and computers don’t catch all grammatical errors, despite their “spell check” capabilities. People, especially students, need to learn fixing spelling and grammar is “tough love” done for benefit, and to help improve for the future. It should be accepted not rejected.

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  31. Maria Zaldivar

    I completely agree. Many people seem to think that proper spelling or grammar is not really necessary since computers have spellcheck, but writing is still critical when communicating so we should be able to know how to do it. Computers should be a tool, but writing, specially for someone in the communications field, should be second nature.

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  32. Cam Keough

    I know that as a student at Hofstra, I strongly dislike writing and fortunately I have gotten by doing just fine so far with my poor writing skills. I have always felt s though I needed one professor to push me to get better and enjoy writing while doing it. So, will I dislike it, probably but I know in the future I will appreciate it when I begin my professional career I will need these skills, and as an educational institution it is the job of the professor to teach these necessary skills. Those students who dislike it that much should not be in school, but those who are true go getters will truly love it!

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  33. katiespoleti

    I completely agree that utilizing proper punctuation and grammar is extremely important not only in professional settings but in everyday life. I think that it is vital for us as college students to know how efficiently craft an email to a professor or a cover letter to an employer in a manner that is both respectful and correct. The worst feeling is sending out an application or reaching out to someone in the field and not hearing anything back simply because you added a extra letter into the company’s name or forgot to end your sentence with a period. Although these mistakes may sound minor to some, they really do matter and could even cost us the internship or even job of our dreams.

    As a journalism major, I have always understood how important it is to use proper grammar. I know that I occasionally make mistakes when it comes to the structure of my writing. However, I know that at the end of the day no one is perfect and that is why I really appreciate when certain professors take the time to correct my work. Perfecting our grammar skills is something I believe we should never stop working on because it will always be valued. The pre-professional fraternity for communications that I belong to is actually putting on a grammar event this month! I’m excited to see what the members of our organization have put together and I’m ready to perfect my craft in writing even more.

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  34. Amina Antoury

    I completely agree. In any profession grammar is important and critical. It is also important for our reputation in the workplace. Using correct grammar shows professionalism in a world ‘texting’ language.

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  35. cgiblin2014

    I think it’s vital to have grammar taken seriously, especially in the professional world. While I think measures like iFixit’s CEO are a bit extreme, I agree with this reasoning. A lack of grammar can show a lack of attention to detail and is lazy. Teachers should stress the importance of grammar because it’s vital in the job market. In journalism, which is my desired field, bad grammar ruins your credibility. Even as a viewer, reader, or listener, seeing someone use bad grammar irks me. I hope teachers hold grammar in high regard in the future to benefit students and get them in the habit of proofreading.

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  36. sadomablog

    Even though it may not seem like it to most, grammar and punctuation do count. Through the several jobs that I’ve held, I noticed that the coworkers that did make spelling mistakes did indeed rush through their work and didn’t look at the bigger picture…their reputation. I found myself double and triple checking projects we were chosen to work together on because I felt that they didn’t hold the same work ethic as me, nor could their contributions be trusted.

    I think it’s great that you care about the success of your students so much so that you show a little tough love when it comes to grammer and punctuation. It’s better to make these mistakes now in an educational setting and learn from them, rather than when it’s too late and no one ever took the time to point them out.

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  37. DanielaGagliano

    I think the best way to instill proper grammar is unfortunately the tough way. Being tough on students for their improper grammar is the only way they can learn to improve it and understand that nothing less than perfect is acceptable. A number of press releases may come in at one time for a company, and a lot of the times the ones that have misspelled names are immediately thrown away. Grammar matters.

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  38. Jordyn Miller

    I definitely agree that grammar is important This is not necessarily because it illustrates how intelligent someone is, or how good of a writer someone is, but rather how much someone cares about a given project, and how seriously they are taking their assignment. Misspellings in particular seem to be the worst–especially with spell check nowadays–because they are so easily fixable. When there is a misspelling in a paper, posting, or press release, it just shows that the assignment was either rushed through, or was unimportant to whomever completed the task.

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  39. Justin McCue

    I agree with your strictness on grammar. While grammar is seemingly such a little thing, it is really a big aspect of writing. Poor grammar can really draw attention away from whatever point is trying to be made in a piece of writing. It represents who the person is, and in some cases can be an indicator whether a source is legit or not. In the media and internet, image is everything. If I were online shopping and had a choice of purchasing from a visually pleasing website versus a website with technical and graphical issues, I will choose the website that is more visually pleasing just because I’d feel more secure. Same with grammar, if I am reading from a source that has many grammatical errors, I would not feel secure in believing what the source is trying to portray.

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  40. annabaxter7

    To best represent ourselves, students and professionals should always use proper grammar and punctuation. Oftentimes, if I am reading a paper or blog post that disregards grammar and punctuation, the source loses all credibility in my opinion. No one can expect to be taken seriously if he or she refrains from editing his or her writings. Grammatical errors greatly decrease the quality of work and turn away potential clients. I would love to take a grammar test for a potential employer to prove my knowledge and ability to write and edit.

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  41. Emily DiLaura

    I could not agree more about the importance of grammar and punctuation. In many cases, my friends give me a hard time when I correct them, whether it be in person or via text/email. In the end, however, these friends turn around and ask me to help them edit papers and proofread for them. I think the last thing you said is most important: tough love. If you are helping someone out of good intentions and want to see them succeed, it changes the whole picture. Grammar and punctuation are extremely important in the career of communications, as a simple mistake can change the whole meaning. This is so apparent in the book we are reading in one of your classes “Eats, Shoot & Leaves.” Reading this book has been so much fun and that’s what this post reminded me of!

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  42. Zhen Zhong

    iFixit CEO Kyle Weins is someone I would not want to work for despite the importance of grammar in my life; My reason being: I think he only hires followers and not leaders.

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  43. anthonypugs

    I strongly agree with what you stand for when it comes to punctuation and grammar. After all, we are college students and if we do not perfect our writing skills now odds are we never will. I am always on top of my punctuation and grammar, but I am never flawless. I am excited to receive constructive criticism from you a public relations professional, Professor Morosoff.

    -Anthony

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  44. Adam Palasciano

    I totally agree with you Professor. Correct punctuation and grammar is important in the professional world in order to succeed. This is not enforced or emphasized enough in school which is unfortunate because it is a necessary skill we all need to master in life.

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  45. arthenas

    I agree. Grammar proper grammar is important and is something we should not let die. It’s sad to see so many students lacking basic grammar skills after graduating high school. We need more teachers and professors like you.

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  46. Arianna du Manoir

    I find it to be completely fair for an employer to be strict about grammar. As an employee you are an extension of the brand and if you have poor grammar, it can reflect badly on the company you work for. You seem unprofessional, imprecise, and unreliable, which leaves clients assuming the same for your fellow co-workers. After writing so many emails and documents all day it can be tempting to take shortcuts, but it only takes one to completely mess up your career.

    Reply

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