I have to start with a cliché: knowledge is power. So in today’s power driven society, why would we not strive to use our knowledge in all areas of our lives? The idea for this blog post came to me yesterday when I saw this picture shared on Facebook.
I can only hope this is a satire, because if not, the person who marked it up was far too generous. It got me thinking. Not only is proper grammar important in formal writing, but it is also important in social media and text messages when possible. We have to get in the habit of communicating clearly. And after all, isn’t that the design of English grammar?
This is my favorite illustration of this point. The comma placement tells us which the dependent sex is.
1. Woman, without her man, is nothing.
2. Woman, without her, man is nothing.
I feel I am a pretty good writer, but it’s because I’m a hard worker. People are not born with it. It’s a learned skill. I am constantly checking myself. Here are a few of my secret tips and favorite resources.
- I defer to Associated Press (AP) style in all of my writing because it is a standard for my industry, public relations. I think it’s important to consult the style book for whatever is accepted for your industry, whether it is APA, MLA, ect.
- I use Google to search for answers frequently, especially if I’m not sure if something is hyphenated.
- I eliminate wordiness and repetition when I can.
- I read grammar books like The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, The Art of Styling Sentences, and The Associated Press Guide to Punctuation in my spare time. It’s never easy to remember all of the rules, but you’ll find the more you dive into it, the more you’ll remember.
- Never take anything for granted. Even if you think you remember a rule, if you’re at all unsure you should check.
- Read, reread and then reread it again. This is the biggest mistake people make. They write something and don’t read it to themselves before passing it along to someone else. You have to look at your work with a fresh set of eyes. Pretend like you’ve never seen it before. If you aren’t on a deadline, it’s recommended that you revisit your paper the next day. One of my professors in college said you should proofread a paper 10 times. He also suggested reading it line by line from bottom to top.
- Find your personal grammar guru. Everyone needs someone to turn to as final authority or a last resort. I’m fortunate to work with many people I can turn to for this. But if it’s not easy to find someone in your work circle, reach out to a friend.
I take pride in what I do. I love to try my best for my clients, my employer, but most importantly for myself. Shouldn’t we all?